I have been in touch with three German Shepherd Dog Rescues that receive this blog from me each day. Almost two months ago, I sent a letter to them asking if any of them would like to write a story about their organization and their work with the rescue of our beloved breed. I told them that I would be happy to use some of their stories about these wonderful dogs that they help give a new lease on life to. Dawn Restuccia, President and founder of “Last Hope, Save Haven” contributed this story. Thank you Dawn for sharing this with us. In a few weeks, I’m expecting another story from one of the rescues that receives this blog. I look forward to sharing more of these sometimes gut wrenching stories with you……because not all dogs live in an air conditioned home stretched out on an overstuffed sofa.
THIRTEEN DOLLAR DOG
She was a washed out black and tan German Shepherd...probably a product of some uncaring puppy mill breeder by looking at her structure. Who had previously owned her, no one knew; for she was deposited in the "night box"...a small cage outside the facility to accommodate people who can’t dispose of their pets during the daytime hours.
She found the filthy hammock pushed into a corner of her cell, and laid her exhausted bones down. At least there was some comfort to be had; lying on the concrete would have been excruciatingly painful due to the prominence of her bones through her sparse fur. Her soft brown eyes searched beyond the chain link, hoping to see a kind face; a familiar face. What had she done to deserve this? Surely they would come back for her....she would just sit here as she had done so many other days in the past; waiting for her food....waiting for water to quench her thirst....both of which had come all too infrequently.
From the day she was brought home as an innocent happy puppy and shackled to what would be her only shelter for the next four years, she would wait. People would come and go; she could only wonder what green fields they must be visiting, for her prison consisted of a mud pit full of feces and flies. Sleep became her only release; and in her dreams she was running and playing with others of her kind....the pain in her stomach from hunger was no more. The scrap of rug she was given to rest on wore away....her ears tattered from the fly bites who tortured her incessantly.
Muscles that should have carried her on strong legs slowly atrophied from disuse and the stare in her eyes became vacant...lost. The day arrived that her human came and unshackled her, leading her to the car that had brought her here. She could hardly contain her excitement! Was she going to see some new park? Perhaps go for a walk? The person put her into the back seat, and started off on what could have been her last journey.
As he pulled into the lot, he scarcely said goodbye, unbuckling her collar and shoving her into a cage with many other dogs that had been discarded that evening. She wanted to cry "WAIT!!!...you forgot me!!!"....but had no voice to utter the human words. She could only bark out her fear echoed by the voices of the others who shared her fate.
It was a long and frightening night, with the sounds of the woods all around edging close to where they lay huddled for warmth. When the attendant arrived in the morning, he removed them, one by one; leading them to their cells. A bowl of food was shoved in as well as some brackish water; the first food she had seen in many days previous. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad here; at least the void in her stomach would be filled.
For days she lay watching and waiting. She heard them say that her life was worth $13 though she did not understand. Other dogs were led out of their cells, tails wagging, hoping for a walk or a few minutes of respite in the sun...never to return. She watched and waited wondering when it would be HER turn. Then one hot afternoon, a soft spoken woman approached her cell door. "Could you please take her out?" she asked the attendant, who happily complied. Gentle hands caressed her, feeling the years of starvation with every stroke. A cloth collar was buckled onto her thin neck and she was led quietly out the door and into the sunshine. The thirteen dollars had been paid. Her life was finally beginning. Her Angel had come.
This is dedicated to a washed out black and tan emaciated German Shepherd Dog who sat in a rural shelter; her face in a corner. She was rescued and with love and luck, will find her place in this world. After all she has been through, her trust in us has not failed...the pull fee for her was $13!
I wrote this a few years ago in honor of this dog that WAS saved by Rescue. While we do not know where she is now, we can only hope that she is lounging peacefully at the foot of her Master. Please know there are many dogs like this sweet angel quietly awaiting their fates in "shelters" across the country. We are all that stands between them and the abyss...
They give us all they have to give...they deserve no less from us.
From the book: "ONE AT A TIME"........."Amazing, heartbreaking, tragic, loving, magical..." -- Sherman Alexie, director, poet, author of Ten Little Indians
One of the most beautiful books on animals ever produced... A magnificent work, and one that gets my highest recommendation. -- John Robbins, author of Diet for a New American and The Food Revolution
Presenting life and death in an animal shelter in unvarnished, uncompromising terms … an emotionally moving and profound piece. -- Midwest Book Review, December, 2003
Riveting, stilling, chilling and intensely motivating... shows clearly that each and every one of us can make a difference. -- Marc Bekoff, author of The Ten Trusts (with Jane Goodall)
This book has the potential to save millions of lives - if only we would open our hearts to its message. -- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats
You will be breathless from cover to cover. -- Jim Mason, author of Animal Factories (with Peter Singer)
My rating: German Shepherd Dog Rescues: (4), dogs living (barely) in shelters: (1)