Here's a sampling (Part 1) for anyone who hasn't had a chance to read Roo's story. He captures her state as an abandoned, abused and broken angel so vividly.
I sincerely hope her story gains a lot of international attention. in the same way Charles Dickens did in the 19th Century in bringing the plight of the downtrodden into the public eye. Incredible things happened in England as a result. Even bad dog owners who hear about it might think twice about putting another precious soul through the same thing. I hope Brian won't mind if I post Part 1. Links to the other chapters of Roo's adventure are posted in my previous post.
God bless Roo, Brian, and everyone who's every helped a Roo. Part 1
Notes from a Rescue in Progress
July 24, 2012
Posted by Brian Beker
A beautiful young Golden Retriever is hiding in the dark in my closet. I have seen her eyes in the sunlight, so I know they are filled with fear. By the time I got her, all she wanted was a place where she could hide her head. She scrambled behind the toilet. Eventually I cleared a den for her in a dark closet. She is shutting out a world in which everything scares her. I hear her shallow panting.
Roo was named by a rescue worker from IndiLab Rescue
who pulled her from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles and brought her to an inner-city clinic to be spayed. The first time I saw her, she was trembling at the end of a leash when a tech brought her out into a Saturday morning waiting room packed with pit bulls and Chihuahuas. The tech was downcast about the state the dog was in, or maybe just about the job in general. His scrubs were bloody, and Roo was covered in a week’s worth of what happens when you’re not let out of a small cage. The amount of money vouchered by the county didn’t inspire anyone to rinse the thick wadding of feces and urine off this girl before slicing her belly open.
The golden fur bred into her by humans for their luxury requires human grooming. Roo’s was the dirty grey of the LA streets. It was gnarled into dreadlocks made of a hardened mixture of cement and gravel. The sides of her abdomen were sucked in tight. She didn’t walk so much as stumble. As soon as she got outside, she peed for so long that a couple of machos with a pit bull made some cracks her way. I gave them a look that could have made me a gang casualty. Their pit bull looked like a kind dog with his own problems.
She was terrified, but Roo still had her dignity. More than I could say for myself some of the times when I’ve been wounded, scared, filthy, friendless and left for dead. I fell a little in love with her.
Sounds that I couldn’t even hear sent Roo cringing to the ground, her snout flattened in submission on the sidewalk. She expected everything to hurt her. In the bright sunlight I saw dozens of fleas crawling on her. I got down on the sidewalk and felt her trembling when I held her. She let me. With my body against hers I felt her irregular breathing. I tried to tell her things were looking up, but I don’t know if I sounded convincing.
The idea of getting in the car terrified her. I lifted her up and put her in. Every muscle in her body was as tense as a high-voltage wire. She froze and shook.
My guess is that this dog had been imprisoned. She probably grew up in a cage or a bathroom. It would explain why going into a house would be so threatening to her. Pulling on her leash wasn’t an option. I picked her up to bring her inside. For a minute I just held her and before long her muscles softened and her head drooped onto my arm. There are times a dog needs to be held as much as any human does.
Her crooked incision was inelegantly stitched. It looked like a homemade carpet repair. She was in no state to eat or drink, and what courage she worked up she used to scramble for a spot to hide. She jammed herself behind the toilet. I once knew a dog who marched himself up on top of a garbage pile when he was ready to die. It was heartbreaking. Roo reminded me of him.
But I knew something Roo didn’t know. I knew that her days of being harmed are over.
On balance, humans don’t have much to be proud of in the way we breed dogs and dictate the conditions of their lives as our property. Instead of living up to our simple end of the bargain – the provision of food, shelter and care – we are all too prone to letting those dependent lives be destroyed. All too many beings who start out pure and hopeful have their spirits crushed by what would be bad luck if it wasn’t entirely man-made. Well-loved dogs who are blessed with good lives comprise a tiny minority. Dogs like Roo – neglected, scared, jettisoned, sick and starved – are everywhere.
Any shelter is filled with dogs at every stage of the decline. Fur rots and tangles and becomes home to parasites before it falls out in clumps. Skeletons show. Infected ears make every moment a hell of pain and itching – under Roo’s flaps it’s all hot red scabs and thick brown wax. The skin is covered with sores from malnutrition and bloody scabs from gnawing at the fleas. Cuts fester. Teeth turn brown. Scars accumulate. Limps develop. Those are just the visible things. Those can be treated. Fear is a much tougher customer.
The fear is what you see in Roo’s deep brown eyes. Once she was a puppy whose eyes smiled at everything she saw. On her journey to her hiding spot behind a toilet, those smiles were extinguished.
My work was cut out for me. First things first – fleas and filth had to be dealt with so Roo could start to heal. Her incision could not be made wet, so a real bath was out of the question. Even if the incision could be protected, the flea meds can’t be applied after a shampoo.
After letting her decompress for an hour or so behind the toilet I pulled her out as softly as I could and carried her outside. I showed her how the hose works – it didn’t bother her – and ran a slow stream of cool water over her. I don’t have a bathtub, so that was the only choice. The thick black infestation of flea eggs on her back would have to wait; the water would have run down onto her belly.
Roo held still and began to close her eyes as the water ran over her. I worked as much of the dirt out of her with my hands as I could. She never moved an inch, and when the water soaked through the fur on her head I felt her take a deep breath and relax the muscles in her neck. Her head lowered a bit, and I felt her tongue lick my arm, tentatively and only a couple of times. I know what is feels like to receive unexpected kindness from someone who cares when you are wounded and frightened. Roo was feeling what I had felt. Cool water on a hot day.
Sometimes it takes so little to help. I patted her soft golden mane down with a towel. For a moment, with fleas crawling around a spot on her snout that she had scratched raw, she raised her eyes to look into mine. Her eyes were filled with exhaustion and strain, but for that moment there was no fear. Her look made me stop and hold her and she moved closer and leaned the top of her head against me.
Balls of the cement mixed with sharp rocks were jammed in-between her foot pads and underneath her claws. No wonder she had been walking gingerly. I chopped all the worst of it off with scissors. When I finished with one paw, she offered the other.
If my guess that Roo might have suffered long imprisonment is correct, it would account for why she was scared to come back inside the house. But back inside, she chose a spot under the desk instead of cramming herself behind the toilet, and that was a little less heartbreaking. At least she had chosen to be in the same room. It was a start.
She didn’t want any food or water. She just wanted to sleep. I left her in peace. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
After a couple of hours I got down on my hands and knees to say hi to her and see if she might take a sip of water. Though she wasn’t ready for that, the tip of her tail tapped the floor a couple of times when she saw me. It wasn’t much of a wag as wags go, but it was as much of a wag as this weakened dog could work up, and it practically brought tears to my eyes. It was one of the best wags ever.
I held her head in my hands, and she went to sleep like that, her soft lips on the palm of my hand. And I felt her take a breath so deep that her ribs pushed up against mine. She sighed it out in that jagged way human children do at the end of a heavy cry.
Roo needs to have basic needs met. Fleas, recovery, nutrition. Her ears. Her coat. Above all, Roo needs love and kindness. I have my work cut out for me. Whatever someone did to her needs to be undone.
This is the first in a series that will describe what happens with this dog. I’ll let you know how it goes with the angel in the tattered golden coat. I’m almost as scared as she is. I’ll keep you posted.