Interview at the Dog Pound, Part II
It had been two weeks since I visited the local dog pound and its denizen. The story, not surprisingly, had attracted a lot of attention from rescue groups in the area. They were pleased someone from the city paper had taken the time to write a story on why dogs end up in the pound. It was hoped it might raise some awareness.
I found my mind wandering back to that sad place time and again. I wondered how feisty little Patsy was, and if she had been adopted yet. I also worried for Popper, the young Border Collie. I was deeply troubled in my spirit.
As I sat staring blankly at my computer screen, trying to concentrate on another story, I felt the familiar warmth of a little chin resting on my knee.
“Hi Sweetie.” I stroked the soft fur of my own dog, Sophie. She always knew when I was upset. They all seem to just know. There was then a gentle nudge of my arm on the opposite side as my other dog, Banner, vied for my affections. Border Collies, both of them.
“I have to go back,” I said, looking into Sophie’s intelligent eyes. “I have to know.”
Return to the Pound
Once again, I found myself in that foul smelling kennel area. No matter how many times you clean a place like this, the stench is always there. It must be hell for dogs, having such a keen sense of smell.
Pete’s old kennel had a new tenant, some sort of Labrador mix. She was black with small white markings on her chest and paws. There was a food dish in the corner, the kibble untouched by the look of it. She lay on her side, whining. I could see she had recently had pups by the swollen teats. Poor girl.
I moved past the Lab, to Spartan’s old kennel. Empty. Good. I held my breath as I approached Popper’s kennel, hoping beyond hope that he had been adopted. I was not prepared for what I saw. This once proud, handsome young Border Collie was now a quivering mass in the corner of his kennel. He glanced up at me briefly, a flicker of recognition in his eyes, then he began to cough violently. His tail was tucked tightly between his shaking legs.
“Oh Popper!” I cried. “What has happened to you?” Popper simply cowered into the corner, shrinking away from my voice.
“It’s his breed,” a familiar voice spoke from behind. “They’re too sensitive. The noise and smells drive them crazy. Intelligent fellows like him can’t take the long hours of boredom and lack of companionship.” I turned around to see my little friend Patsy, the Jack Russell Terrier. I peered through her kennel gate.
“Ah Patsy,” I shook my head. “I had hoped you would have found a nice home.”
“I did,” Patsy replied. “Well, at least I thought I did. The day you came here, someone came in and chose me. It turned out the same, another person who wanted a cute little dog, but not the work it takes to keep them happy. She brought me back just three days later, tired of my constant playing and running about, bouncing off the furniture.” Patsy stood on her hind legs, resting her little paws on the gate. “But guess what? A man and a little girl came here yesterday, they smelled VERY good too! They petted me, and played with me. Then they threw a ball for me. I brought it right back to them like a good dog!” Patsy was becoming very excited. Her stubby little tail wagged rapidly back and forth, making me grin. “They kept talking about something called flyball! The man said they were going to go talk to someone named Mom, and maybe they would come back.”
I smiled. Maybe they would come back. In the meantime, I had some questions for Patsy. “What has happened in here since my last visit?” She dropped back down onto her haunches, and became sullen.
“I hate this place,” she said. “That Lab down there?” I nodded. “Well, she came in with ten puppies. Someone just dumped them all like garbage at the front door. That was last week. Five days ago, some of her young became very, very ill. I remember smelling the sickness, the smell of blood. The workers came in, they called the sickness Parvo. They were very agitated. Six of her young died, the other four went behind the steel door.” Patsy shuddered. “She has been mourning since, and will not eat.”
“Lord have mercy,” I whispered.
“That’s not all,” she said. “The disease has run through the kennel, and others have gone behind the steel door. I suppose I was lucky, I was vaccinated. So was Popper, but he has The Cough.” As if on cue, Popper once again was seized by a coughing fit behind us.
“I have to get out of here,” Patsy wailed. “I am so frightened!? Once again I was questioning the logic of my return to this God forsaken place.
“Oh Patsy,” I opened the door to her kennel and picked her up in my arms, cuddling her close. I could feel her trembling.
“You smell different,” she said suddenly stopping and sniffing me. “You smell like one of THEM.”
“Them?” I asked.
“A Rescuer!” she sniffed me once more, her little tail wagging rapidly. Just then, the door to the kennel room opened, and a pound worker and a man with a little girl came in. The little girl rushed toward Patsy’s kennel, but stopped abruptly when she saw me holding her.
“Oh no!” she wailed. “You aren’t taking my dog are you?” I quickly put Patsy into her waiting arms, and said “No young lady, she is all yours! But take very good care of her, she is one special little dog.”
“Yay! Daddy look!” she squealed as Patsy planted little dog kisses all over her cheeks. “Daddy, is she really mine?”
“Yes Honey, she is really yours,” her father beamed. The worker instructed them to be sure to bleach the bottoms of their shoes as they left, and I saw a brilliant sparkle in Patsy’s eyes as she looked at me over the shoulder of her new little master. This time, I was certain, it would be okay, at least for this one little dog.
As I left the building, and the many sad and despairing dogs it held, I could not help but wonder how anyone with a heart could abandon their beloved and devoted pet. Ignorance and selfishness are the cause of so much grief. These amazing animals give humans their whole hearts. They serve them, protect them, and give them unconditional love regardless of how they are treated. Their capacity for forgiveness is something I will never comprehend and yet they are so often treated like trash by the very ones they trust. Their loyalty is repaid with blind indifference.
Opening the door to my car, I wiped a tear from my cheek, and looked down. “Patsy isn’t the only dog who will find out what flyball is, right Popper?” Popper looked up at me, a glimmer of hope returning to his glazed eyes, his tail wagging slightly between his legs. I knelt down, cupped his sweet little face in my hands, and looked him in the eyes.
“It’s off to the vet with you, and then when you are well, you are going to meet your new brother and sister.”
This is a work of fiction, and as such, I have chosen to end it on a happy note.
I truly wish all pound stories ended in such a manner, but sadly, this is not the case. For most animals, the story ends quite differently. According to the Humane Society in the USA, THIRTY EIGHT ANIMALS PER MINUTE are put to death for no other reason than THEY EXIST. Responsibility begins with YOU.
July 10, 2006
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