Friday, September 7, 2012

Bits of Hugs and Dirt

Sam and Thorin arrived in Brevard County at noon on Wednesday as planned.  I had no words.  For twenty-four hours, I could not articulate my feelings, and I am still finding it difficult to describe.
They arrived filthy, mangy, smelly, malnourished, looking like dogs rescued from a pound or an abandoned farm. So different from the dogs we had left behind.  
The lady who brought them down to Florida helped me put them directly into the bathroom.  She mentioned that they needed to start in a smaller space and said, “Looks like they haven’t had a bath in three years.  Good luck.”  With the girls at school for the next four hours, I was alone except for our two cats exiled into a bedroom and our two dogs now barking in the bathroom. 
Within twenty minutes, Thorin began scratching at the door and yelping while Sam patiently waited in the bathtub.  My stomach curled, and I couldn’t eat the leftover curry for lunch.  I finally took Thorin out and put him in the dog kennel.  Already, he had pooped in the bathroom to express his upset at being locked up.
I placed my hands over my face.  No words.  No tears.  No ideas.  I was heartsick and lost.  Despair wrapped itself around me, and I prayed for help. 
I’d texted a few friends and family members about the dogs’ arrival and condition, and a local friend offered help.  I put on old clothes over my swimming suit, loaded the dogs into the van, and drove them to my friend’s house where we hosed and shampooed them outside.  I scrubbed and scrubbed, but nothing could help Thorin who had poop matted into his fur. 
I assessed them both and noticed they have rashes and Thorin is even losing hair on his legs.  They each have unexplained growth or tumors.  Both too thin, their eyes appeared sick and sad.      
With a fenced in backyard at my friend’s house, I let the dogs run and explore while I swam laps in the pool.  Fascinated by my fun in the pool, Sam jumped in and promptly panicked.  After I showed him how to exit at the steps, he had a favorite new game.  He jumped in and swam straight for me every time until I nudged him towards the stairs, so he could get out.  We played until they were exhausted and the girls were home from school to help. 
Lexi cleaned the bathroom while Laina gave Thorin a haircut and I washed their collars and leashes.  Laina noticed a few fleas, so I treated them with what we had in the house:  cat flea medicine.
Like me, the girls experienced mixed emotions:  happy to hug Sam and Thorin again, horrified at their appearance, thrilled they were rescued from death, worried about what to do next.
I had a class to teach that night, and on the way home from work, I wracked my mind for a solution for the next day when we would all three be at work or school.  There’s no way we could leave the dogs and cats home alone, even in different rooms.  I remembered a childhood poem, “The Duel” by Eugene Field, about a gingham dog and calico cat left alone and how there would be a “terrible spat” and how the “Air was littered, an hour or so, / With bits of gingham and calico.”  I knew the ending of the poem could very well reflect the outcome:
Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
      But the truth about the cat and pup
      Is this: they ate each other up!
Not wanting to come home to murder of cats, dogs, or our property, I knew that I had to do something.  After placing three calls, I found a friend of Lexi’s who agreed to hang with the dogs for the day. 
For me, it is not even one day at a time right now.  It is one problem at a time.  One step at a time.
When I returned home from work, all three of us took the dogs on a long walk.  Sam, still over-stimulated by the trip, jerked me all over.  Thorin, still stubborn as ever yet now old, moved slowly, at times refusing to budge.  As the dogs explored the area, we discussed the situation. 
Now that they are here with us, how can we bear to say goodbye again?!  Yet, how can we possible keep them?!
With no easy answers, we all seven fell into bed wiped out that night.  Laina slept in the living room with the dogs while Lexi kept the cats company in her room.


  1. Oh, Rachel, my heart hurts so much for you all, but I keep faith in the thought that after all this, a solution must be right around the corner...

  2. Thank you, Linda. I, too, am hoping and praying for a positive solution for all concerned.