The Dog That Nobody Wanted
It's a call I've gotten too many times. "Heidi, I've found a dog. She's a stray that's been wandering my neighborhood for a while. She's thin and scared and she's a pit bull. Oh, and she has a huge litter of puppies. Can you find a place for the puppies? Can you find a place to take her? Can you help?"
I give a heavy sigh and collect my thoughts before I respond.
The reality is that I've never had a rescue in Texas respond for requests for help with a stray, un-socialized, possibly sick pit bull. And then there are the 9 puppies to consider.
I know no place local will take them. I respond to an offer of help from a rescue acquaintance who said she can get the puppies into a rescue outside of Houston and pray that the puppies wind up in loving homes. It's the best I can do and I have to let it go.
A dear friend from my therapy dog group, Lupe, offered to foster the mother on a temporary basis while we figured out what the mother's medical needs were and how far we could proceed with care. I posted the mother, whom her foster mom named Girl, on a popular website with cute pics and an even cuter biography and prayed someone would be interested.
No one inquired.
And Girl was heartworm positive in a big way. Her medical costs for treatment would be more than Lupe and I could ever hope to raise.
I agonized every night about the inevitable call I would get from Lupe asking me when the dog would be re-homed, as it was supposed to be a temporary foster situation.
And still, no one inquired about Girl. She was the dog nobody wanted. She was a plain, red pit bull mix breed like thousands of others waiting for adoption all over the country.
I sent endless emails to rescuers who have far more experience than I do handling situations like this and asked for advice, tips, things I wasn't thinking to do, any help they could provide.
Then things changed. A dear friend from a rescue in central Texas shared a windfall and sent a check we could put towards a heartworm treatment.
And a wonderful local rescue, For The Love Of Strays, let us get Girl's heartworm treatment for a greatly discounted price. Lupe and I cried-we were so grateful.
Another local rescue, Rott-N-Dane Rescue,
And still, I never got one inquiry about her. Not one.
Over the summer I was slammed rehabbing wildlife and I hadn't kept in touch with Lupe. I still dreaded getting the phone call that she could no longer keep Girl, but it never came.
When we caught up, she explained that Girl was starting to grow on her. She mentioned that she was even starting Girl's basic obedience training, and wondered about therapy work for her.
I hadn't seen Girl since she was an un-socialized stray barking in terror at us while hiding under the house when we dropped off some food for her at Lupe's house. A therapy dog? It didn't seem possible.
Then came time for Delta Society Therapy Dog evaluations a few weeks ago. I was shocked to hear that Lupe and Girl were scheduled to test that day.
The Delta exam is tough for both the handlers and dogs-heavy obedience work, tons of distractions, loud noises, arguing crowds. You name it-the Delta evaluation throws it at you, and you and your dog have to handle every single portion of the test calmly and completely, or you don't pass. Our evaluators are tough.
I watched and participated in the test, playing the part of the patient with a walker who wants to pet the dog. I held my breath for the obedience tests and neutral dog meet and greet.
I watched this dog greet every person she met with a wagging tail and a friendly smile. I watched this dog sail through her Delta exam with tears streaming down my face-this dog that nobody wanted.
Thank you Lupe, for never giving up on Girl. Thank you Nicole, Cheryl, and Angela, for allowing us to get Girls' medical needs taken care of.
For those of you who help rescue, never, never, never give up.
I had the honor of accompanying Lupe and Girl on their very first trip to a local nursing home. They visited the Alzheimers ward in a large group setting. Girl was amazing-calm and loving-she leaned in to each patient to get maximum petting!
They visited 12 people that day. I stood on the sidelines with a lump in my throat. This SO easily could have been another story of an unwanted pit bull with a tragic ending. Rescue works! Never give up!
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