It’s been five day since she arrived. Covered in mud, pulled from beneath the porch of the neighbor’s house after her owners abandoned their home and the black dog too. They obviously no longer wanted her. Maybe they never did but the message was made perfectly apparent when they left her behind, immensely pregnant and half-starved. Too lazy. Too irresponsible. Too pathetic to even drop her at the shelter. Easier to leave her and hope someone might take on their responsibility. If they were even feeling enough to hope anything for her.
There would have been a time I would have felt sorry for dogs like this one. Sorry that they had been so callously discarded. But the ironic thing is that I only feel sorry for her past…the one where she actually she lived with such cold-hearted people. It makes me sad to think of what sort of pitiful existence they may have given her.
There is no pity now as I’m happy at least the neighbor’s cared enough to lure the frightened dog from beneath their porch and drive her to our shelter. I’m happy the caked mud and filth has been washed away and that she’s now warm and dry in my care. Awaiting the birth of her puppies in a place where she’ll be guaranteed all that I can offer her. Checking on her every few hours with the help of neighbors while I’m at work and the help of my internal alarm clock that wakes me automatically every few hours through the night, I don’t want her to feel alone for one moment.
She’s huge and should deliver soon. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking. She’s seems so uncomfortable but it’s difficult to tell much as she’s never seemed comfortable since arriving. At least not emotionally. Timid, stoic and doubtful is written all over her face and body language.
She had no knowledge of the leash and fought it every step of the way for the first short walk we took together. Progress has been made and walks are no longer a struggle of wills but she doesn’t seem to enjoy them either. Baby steps. She now gives me a wag or two when she sees me. And that tail is no longer so tightly tucked beneath her that she appears to have no tail at all. It dangles straight done…emotionless. But she does offer me the slightest sign of acknowledgement now by lifting her head sometimes too when I approach her. The wary look replaced by one of slight curiousity.
She’s not shown a moment of ugliness. Never a growl or snarl but also never concedes much more than that wag and a glance upward in my direction. But I’m patient and won’t give up easily. She’ll come around and learn to trust me and others I’m sure. Yet it will take time and persistence and ample reason to believe that people are good again. Assuming she’s known some goodness.
I named her Autumn. Partly because of the promise of the approaching season and partly because it feels like a strong, unique name….one full of character. While all of these things seem absent from her now, I’m banking on her growing into her name.
Somehow it seems like no accident that Autumn found her way to us just weeks before we’ll cut the ribbon on our new spay/neuter clinic. And I can’t help but wonder what her fate might have been had we opened our doors earlier. Maybe it would be exactly the same. But I will wonder and hope and believe that our clinic will save many from this same fate. That its low costs will lure into our doors those that otherwise might never consider getting their pets fixed. Possibly for the only time but if so, this one visit will save hundreds if not thousands of lives.
Realizing as I type these words that it’s not dream of the clinic that has driven us to build it. But the dream of stopping all the unwanted litters from being born into a lives that would be fraught with challenge. Lives of careless neglect. And for some, death.
This autumn our clinic will bring positive change to our community for many animals. And for my Autumn, we will bring positive change to hers too. I am confident of both. For now, I’ll wait patiently for a few more weeks for our doors to open and hopefully wait just a few more hours if not days for Autumn’s last litter of puppies to begin lives that I promise will be nothing like that of their mother’s past. Both she and her puppies will only know the very best. They deserve nothing less.
9.22.13 It’s the first day of autumn today and that somehow seems to be just right since Autumn had eight beautiful puppies yesterday and they will start their first full day of life today! In the short time I’ve had Autumn with me, she has displayed what I have witnessed time and time again, that being a willingness to forgive whatever past had hurt her and had caused her to hide within herself. While she has a way to go, she has shown positive signs of learning to trust again. In little over a week, she began to blossom and the night before she gave birth to her puppies, she welcomed me with kisses for the first time. Throughout her delivery she allowed me and others to be with her with nothing but patience and tolerance and seemed to welcome what little help and comfort I offered her. All of the puppies are doing well and Autumn seems to be tired…understandably…but doing well too. She was ravenous and considering she’d barely eaten in the last few days, certainly understandable too. And so the story continues with 8 additional lives to join Autumn in her journey.