To those who know me well, please suspend disbelief when I say how thankful I am for the woman who shared this comment in response on my recent post about the dog Gwen.
“I’m sorry but this is just a dog. A very very injured dog and it’s suffering. Please have mercy and put her down. The money spent to help this 1 dog is crazy when winter is coming and there are so many that need basics to survive the winter. It’s a horribly sad story and no good options but please be sensible.”
I truly am grateful. Not because this post doubled my resolve to get this dog the help she needed either. Her previous owner’s response of “we didn’t even know how long she’d been missing” had already sealed that deal. Nope, it was the “this is just a dog” that has lingered and has sparked to life a seemingly long dormant desire to write again.
Without going into all the nitty gritty, after years writing about my adventures in animal welfare; writing to release frustration and at other sharing great moments, lessons learned or inspirational events, I somewhat suddenly lost my ability and desire to do so. Even when I felt the need for the cathartic qualities of my blog to help me heal, it was like trying to run in someone else’s shoes. Actually sometimes it was like trying to run in shoes of concrete. What once had felt so easy and nature, felt heavy and uncomfortable.
Then came a beautiful Flat Coated Retriever looking dog we named Gwen. Well Gweniviere because my friend and fellow rescuer Kristal said she needed a fancy name. She wouldn’t go for Bellasandra of the Hampshires but Gweniviere was accepted and she was Gwen from then on. Gwen had had been hit by a car, lay in a clinic near Columbus with a multiple pelvic fractures and a hip dislocation. The vets kept her comfortable, she ate and drank but unable to stand, let alone walk, she was in bad shape. She would need surgery for sure and rehab after and it would not be cheap. Her owners signed her over, unable or unwilling to care for her, to the local shelter but the shelter had no funds for any medical care so she had no one until Kristal said she would take care of her. That’s when I got involved. That’s when Kristal sent her pictures and I was hooked.
Needing to raise money for her medical care while we looked for a rescue to help with her longer term, I did as I have done before. Shared her story on Facebook and asked for donations. Before long a stranger would respond to the pricey estimates for various surgical options offered that she was “just a dog” and that I should “have mercy and put her down.” I think she also inferred I might be crazy but since she was not the first person and probably won’t be the last to suggest such, I’ll leave that one be. But it was the idea that this one dog did not warrant such effort nor expense that inflamed my desire to write.
Now what she couldn’t possibly know is that it was someone else not so long ago who suggested that another dog was not worthy of such expense or such effort that left me disillusioned to the point of making writing impossible. Thus I tried, despite what my friends would suggest was thinly disguised contempt, to contain my response.
Don’t get me wrong. I know what’s she’s saying. Why would anyone spend so much money on ONE animal when there are so many in need? After over 17 years pretty intimately involved in animal welfare, few understands the extent of the great need out there more than I. Her suggestion would have landed a bit softer had it not included the inference that I was allowing this dog to suffer. That was a bit insulting. But again, she doesn’t know me nor the extent that I have gone to in ensuring animals do NOT suffer.
Really, I’m not trying to berate her but rather use this as an example of how we need to consider all the facts before we rush to judgement. To possibly open the eyes of others to the concept that it is not necessarily wasteful to spend money to save a homeless animal even if there are many others in need. That it is not wasteful to save a life simply because the cost is great.
Of course I was tempted to ask when it was we began putting a dollar value on a life but I did not. And who says because we help one with great need, that others will go without? I have not found that to be the case. And I’ve seen time and time again that many people will come together to give a little to make a big difference without slighting others. It’s sort of like working together in a village where the burden is not laid upon the shoulders of any one villager but spread across the entire community so that it does not exhaust any one resource.
And this isn’t my first rodeo. Not by a long shot. Having helped to raise money for medical needs many times before I’ve seen the village come together to help a dog named Panda, whose foot had been gruesomely mangled to the point the leg had to be amputated. And Bo, who had been hit and drug by a car taking skin and muscle, and leaving a gaping wound. Bo kept his leg but not without weeks of rehab and great worry. But each benefited from the gifts of many.
And each time I saw those who stepped up donated, regardless of the amount, people feeling this sweet sense of satisfaction of making a difference and of being a part of something bigger than themselves. And they want to feel the same again and again.
How delightful and encouraging that with Gwen, I saw gifts from strangers, along with old friends. People from states far away that somehow heard of her plight and gave. A woman who adopted a puppy mill dog from our shelter in 2008 gave.. The couple who I used to work with and their dog both donated. The friend who won a little money last year and was waiting for something special and gave! Others who wanted to help because they saw in Gwen’s eyes something that spoke so loudly they could not deny it. And to the woman who said “I’ve decided to forfeit eating out and my ridiculous hair appointment this month for a much better cause” gave. All for just a dog.
During the discussion with the Golden Retriever rescue group representative Sandy Strebler, she asked me what we would do if they weren’t able to help. We didn’t have a plan exactly but we knew weren’t giving up. Gratefully, Gwen is now with the rescue and going to get the best care possible but there were moments that not having a plan weighed pretty heavily on us. But when nearly 100 people are saying loud and clear that they too believe she deserved a chance and wanted to help, it inspires you and the weight gets lighter. Again, that village thing.
And they were saying Gwen deserves a chance! She deserves better than to be left along the road where she was hit. She deserves a life where her family misses her. One who would search high and low for her if she were ever lost again. Who would, upon learning of her injuries would rush to the vet and climb into her kennel, holding her and telling her she was loved. Even if they did not have the money to help her. Trying not to judge but that told me a little about her past life and made me want to change her future so very much. She deserves to survive these injuries, to learn to walk and run again and use healed legs to jump into the bed of loved ones who see her as part of the family.
So, 100 people said she deserved all this and more and wanted to help. Golden Treasures Golden Retriever Rescue said too, black or gold, she deserves a chance and the best care possible! Her hip replacement surgeries will cost them $10 to $12,000 and even with our donations, they have a long way to go! And months of rehab to follow but they too were committed to helping her even before ever meeting this sweet girl! The vets who cared for her were so committed they gave us a wonderful break on our bills so that we could move all donations to the rescue who will carry the biggest financial burden.
I’d say that the villagers have all spoken and in doing so have demonstrated the awesome power to do amazing things by working together for a single purpose larger than ourselves.
All for just a dog.
If you’d like to help Gwen and the rescue who now is fighting for her, you can see ways to donate on their webpage at https://goldentreasuresrescue.org/cmsgtr/index.php/how-you-can-help/donations.html. Every dollar counts. Every dollar says you believe in the value of every life. Even if she’s just a dog.