What is it about us that there’s no getting use to what’s unacceptable, horrid, vile.
The treats and wonders of this life light us up from the break of dawn until the last glimpse of the star-spread night. The irresistible innocent thrill of crisp yellow dried grass crunching beneath your slick soled mucks as you step from the slippery morning steps gives way to annoying drops of chilled condensation you try to miss as you deliver food from deck to deck. Perhaps what’s so special is that these are the last of the predictable moments of the day.
I begin every day with a plan and toss it in with the dyer sheet of the first load of laundry. Coupled with the unexpected is the weight of time and cost management, two factors that can clash and certainly weigh on all of our minds in these economic times. Fierce faith and total compassion have to merge with sound decisions to make the seemingly impossible - a promise to animals that have no hope without Project Hope’s commitment.
This week was a glowing example of how we meet the expectations of our home team, supporters, viewers, and ourselves.
Sunday, as I arrived at PetSmart to meet fellow rescuer Debbie Young who’d aided us with the placement of pups, Chickasaw County Sheriff Jimmy Simmons called to ask for help. On a tip, he’d busted a group of dog fighters. There were two dogs involved and another dog on site. Arrests were made, but his county, like so many in the region, has refused him an animal shelter, so he took the dogs to his home kennels temporarily, but needed our help in finding a haven and a future for them. Our vet, Dr. Abernathy, agreed to care for them temporarily. It would be Tuesday before I could offer assistance.
On Tuesday I arrived at Sheriff Simmons' to transport the dogs. As I pulled in to his property his Basset Hound, pot belly pig, and Preacher, his Mt. Cur/Catahoula mix met me. Preacher is Sheriff Simmons' constant companion, even accompanying the Sheriff to court.
As I passed the gates to his workshop and kennels a chorus of curious, begging, and frustrated voices peppered my ears. Sheriff Simmons keeps numerous hounds and aids stray and abandoned dogs. Dogs were chained, kenneled in cotton trailers, hutches, and a variety of cages. My senses were challenged. Sheriff Simmons cares deeply for dogs; he just has a vastly different acceptance of care and confinement than we do.
Sheriff Simmons pointed to a confined senior Golden Retriever named Gatsby and asked if I could take him. He’d nursed him back from starvation, but with his responsibilities he might not get the time to place him soon. I couldn’t deny him help, nor leave the dog.
The two males who’d fought were housed at the back of the property where Sheriff Simmons had securely separated them from each other and his dogs. The first male refused to leave the barrel he’d curled up in. He offered to hurt the two men trying to get him to come out. A homemade catch pole was necessary to extricate him. He was pitifully marred with scars, punctures, and lacerations.
The next dog came more willingly, though he seemed perplexed with his circumstance and clearly displayed symptoms of discomfort and pain. He shook his badly infected ear and his stomach and groin sucked in with each painful breath. His legs were also badly punctured and lacerated.
Once in the van the unwilling dog began to growl and snarl towards the other dog. I slipped thick cardboard between them and he calmed down. The trip to Doc’s was uneventful except that my senses had experienced more than my emotions could rationalize. I hurt so for what I’d seen and wanted to change that my insides ached. I was ill.
At Doc’s, attendant Peggy cheerfully came out to assist. We began by setting up safe and as comfortable as possible caging for the dogs. I named the Golden Retriever Gatsby and when we got him out his exuberant and strong lead nearly overpowered Peggy. He was thrilled with his meal and settled in.
Chickasaw III (the female) I named Iris. She was so sweet and cooperative. With her settled in we went back for the boys.
Chickasaw I (the black male) now named Harris, did not want to be moved again but he did not challenge or take his discomfort out on us. Once inside I shut the doors to the entrance, exit, and other run areas and allowed him to explore the area in front of his run. The large dogs in the adjoining runs were calm so I allowed him to approach and smell them. He was calm and showed pleasure from my gentle strokes on the small area of his head free of lacerations. He was so totally covered with scars and wounds that it was astounding.
Sarah, our new volunteer vet student who also works at Doc’s, took notes on the mannerism and condition of the dogs after she walked them and Dr. Ann treated their wounds.
The gentler rewards of the week involved our joint efforts with the second year MSU student program who altered the 13 dogs we aided the Cleveland Shelter with. The dogs were to have been heartworm negative so they might be chosen for transport, or local adoption. It turned out that some of them had not been tested and others were positive. It was very stressful learning that this complication had set our efforts back, but both the MSU students and PH decided we wouldn’t turn our backs on the dogs. We will jointly aid the shelter with saving the dogs. The blessing for PH is that the cost of treatment will not impact us. We will simply work with the school and shelter in finding placement and transport for the dogs.
Sherri Norquist called to ask for our urgent help for a mare who was removed from a circumstance of extreme neglect. "Buttermilk", now Buttercup, had a worthy guardian who was talked into giving her to a man who wanted a horse for his grandchild. The man fell into financial woes and totally failed his four horses. He didn’t even pick up the phone to see if they could be returned to their previous guardians. Buttercup was nearly dead.
Rodney is so thrilled to have a horse to spend time with. It took Buttercup a little time to understand that the big gentle giant has something about him that lends to his abrupt approach. Though blind, Rodney is remarkably adept at using his senses find food and friends with minimal effort and with seldom and slight bumps and near collisions.
Rodney loves his Buttercup.
All and all it’s been a remarkable week. As challenging and emotional as our encounters with cruelty are, the determination and rewards to aid suffering and exploited animals overrides even the fears of how all of this can be accomplished and with the limitations of the resources of today’s economy.
Sheriff Simmons has rescued horses that our friend and helper in horse cases, Billy Mills, may be able to take. A Vaiden family rushed a dog to us that had been shot and Doc is aiding. We’ll be helping our dear friend and fellow rescuer, Linda Money, in her extreme time of need. Her home burned and her animals that were inside perished. We can all relate to that horror.
New volunteer Trista with Natalia.
New and absolutely wonderful volunteer Trista Wilkinson has not only volunteered nearly every day this week, but her father has offered to aid us with the electrical work we so badly need. He may not be able to help until early summer so we may have to go ahead with two of the projects, but we’re thrilled with the prospect of genuine volunteerism heading our way. Saturday we had four volunteers aid for at least a portion of the day. Yahoo!