Written by Brenda Greenwalt of Indiana
We found Ralph on one of our late evening jaunts to the grocery store. When we first sighted him, lying near the door in the dead of winter, we thought he was dead. He didn’t move, raise his head, or show any signs of life. When I knelt down beside him though and touched his head, he came to life and the first thing I noticed was the gentleness in his eyes.
Conversations with store employees relayed that he had been there all day and refused to leave. The assumption was that his owner had abandoned him here, dropping him off at one door and leaving through another out of sight of the dog. Thinking his owner was still in the store, the dog refused to leave.
We Couldn’t Leave Him Out in the Cold
We could not get him off of our minds. Concerned about the many dangers of a dog on his own, especially given our exceptionally cold winter that year, the decision was made: we would drive back to the store after closing time and if he was still there would bring him home and attempt to locate his owner. Knowing he probably had not eaten all day, we grabbed a package of hot dogs on our way out the door. This was before our vegetarian days, of course.
As we pulled up to the store’s doors, we searched the mounds of snow for any sign of movement but none were evident. As we turned to leave though, we spotted a red head slowly making its way out of the icy snow. After several failed attempts at coaxing him into our car, we opened the package of hot dogs, threw them in the back seat and in one swift motion he jumped in and quickly devoured the entire package. Slamming the car door shut, we jumped in our seats and took off for home.
His Body Told His Story
Once home, we were distressed to notice how thin his frame was; his hair was long, thick and matted and covered with fleas and ticks. But this was not the worse. To our dismay, we saw on the top of his nose the definite outline and burn that could only have been inflicted by having a lit cigarette pressed down into his skin; someone had deliberately put out a cigarette on this sweet-natured boy’s nose. The tears began to roll as we realized the trauma this poor boy must have gone through in his few short years, and our decision to find his owner was abandoned.
His first trip to the vet revealed, we believe, the reason for his abandonment — he had heartworms. We had already fallen in love with him, and we knew that we would have to fight to save him. For weeks, Ralph withstood the “cancerous” type medications used at that time for heartworms, received through a catheter sewn into the skin of one of his paws. The effects of the medications made him so ill that often times he could barely get up and more than once we thought we might lose him. Showering Ralph with love and attention, we tried to instill in Ralph the desire and the strength to fight…and fight he did.
A Beautiful Life With Us
Finally with a clean bill of health, we had our Ralph for eight glorious and fun-filled years during which time he peed on our Christmas tree presents, ransacked our bathroom when we mistakenly shut him in there, became acquainted with all of the neighborhood children (who simply loved him by the way) during his escape ventures, and just simply filled our home with love. At more than 100 pounds, Ralph, our gentle giant, was unfailingly sweet-natured, faithful and beloved by all who came to know him.
Holding him in our arms as he took his last breath, our baby crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. But we know that he stands vigilant to greet his adopted brothers and sisters, many whom have crossed over since him, and we know he also stands waiting for the day when we too shall cross over the bridge, reunited once again. One more photo of Ralph
Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase