Written by Mary C. King of Kentucky
Rosie was a breeder puppy in rural Eastern Kentucky. She had been kept in a cage, with a wire bottom, for her whole six months of life. She had never seen or felt grass. She had never had a kind, loving hand laid on her. No puppy toys, no bed to sleep in, no basic human interaction. She ate, drank, urinated and slept in the same three square feet of wire. She learned to do her business where she slept, and then had to sleep over it until someone came to hose her and her cage down. Rosie and her sisters were taken from the wire cage to a concrete kennel at the animal shelter, where they still had no bed, no love and none of the basics puppies require to make good pets.
These puppies had no chance in this shelter because it wasn’t open to the public, disease was rampant and the director was not sympathetic. His job was not to be an adoption agency, it was to collect and dispose of the animals. Period. That’s what our tax dollars paid for and that’s what he did. No adoption events, or puppy training or any of those fuzzy, warm things people think the term “shelter” means. In Kentucky, shelters are for the most part mean, sad places animals go to die.
Then along came Elaine, the one person that stands between them and death. She takes Kentucky’s unwanted and turns them into wanted, loved, faithful, loyal and happy family members. She is just one human who also works full time and has a low cost spay/neuter clinic she runs as a non profit organization. She also travels with 20+ animals every two weeks to Germantown, Maryland (nine hours away) where people stand in line waiting to adopt her dogs and cats.
I am one of Elaine’s fosters, and I usually just foster cats. It was during one of her spay/neuter clinics that I saw Rosie, cowering in the back of her cage, as close to the wall as she could get, trembling with fear. If she could have melted away into that cage wall and become a part of it, she would have.
She was simply terrified of people, “traumatized,” Dr. Pack said. He had never seen a dog so shut down. He was not sure she was even salvageable. “She’s just too scared to work with, Mary,” he said. Maybe euthanasia was a better alternative. Rescues have to be able to “move them,” so they can save more. It’s “about economics,” he said.
I knew I had to try. No dog deserves to die simply because it has never had a chance to love, be loved, live somewhere she didn’t have to sleep in her own mess. I’m no longer a rescue, so I had room and I don’t have a job, so I had plenty of time, so Rosie came home with me right then.
I didn’t have a lot of things, but I did have love, and time. I could give her that. I picked up her shaking little body and she got the first chance, of many new chances, to be a dog someone loved and valued. I fell in love with her, immediately. She was kind and loving, and she was so smart and learned quickly she was safe. She learned to bark at the big cats, most bigger than she was. She weighed just 5.4 lbs!
That was November 15, the first time she ever slept in a bed, in a house, with food and a place to sleep she didn’t have to potty in. She didn’t know that, so it was a challenge teaching her that pottying was for outside, and wet grass was okay, and that a pool of water could be fun. She eventually got it. It was the coming out of her crate that she was having the worst time understanding. She thought she was just “safer” in the crate than out.
Then Rosie met Miss. Minnie
Minnie was my “thrown away” kitten. I actually watched someone throw her and her sister out of a car, and then drive over the top of her sister and kill her. I was driving the opposite way, past them, when I saw this happen in my rear view mirror. I stopped, threw my car into reverse and before I could stop them, they had killed her sister and taken off.
I jumped out and scooped up her little sister but she was mortally injured and passed away in my hands. It changed me, that day. I lost faith, in everything, including miracles. Meanwhile, across the road lived a kind man, who came to see why I was so upset and crying.
He asked me “Why are you crying? She is dead, isn’t she?”
He kindly reminded me “There is one still alive, looking at you from the grass. She is the one who needs your help now, the other is gone.” He offered to bury Minnie’s sister. I had to name her, she deserved that, so I called her Angel, kissed her little soft head and said goodbye, just minutes after saying hello. He kindly took her from me and left us, with a stern warning to me about driving in reverse down the road like that. “You’ll get killed that way,” he said.
I went down the hill to get the kitten still alive and she was shattered. That’s the only way I can describe her demeanor. She didn’t make a single move, just stared into the space her sister was in just minutes before. I wasn’t sure she hadn’t been hit too, at first, she was so quiet. I softly scooped her up, and held her close to me, as I climbed back into the car and drove home.
I was pretty stunned by what had happened too. I did not sleep for four days. She was the quietest kitten I had ever seen. She didn’t play, she didn’t meow, she didn’t purr, she ate, she watched and she slept. When I held her, she was limp in my arms. Nothing seemed to break through her stupor. The vet said she was okay, she had not been injured, but she was still,weeks later, so fragile. Unbelieving. Sad. Quiet. Kittens her age are not quiet. They’re bouncy, full of kitten crazies, sleeping one minute and chasing tails the next. She was broken, I told people. I did not know how I was going to fix her. So, Minnie got time. As much time as she needed, and as much love as I had to give.
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