Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FOR JULIA

Her body ached as she crawled out from under the brush pile and stretched. The pain in her rear legs caused her to wince as she extended them full length rearward to awaken tired old muscles. The sun was just starting to rise and there was a threat of rain. It did rain during the night and the brush pile she slept under presented a poor barrier to the elements. The combination of cold, wet ground and thirty five degree air temperature forced her from her frigid bed and prompted movement.. As long as she could arise in the mornings and move on; she would be alright. Her body was emaciated. Soon, lack of proper nutriment would take it’s toll on her old, tired body and nature would call another sister home. She moved down off the hillside toward the noisy highway below. She often found scraps of food left in paper bags along this busy road. The cars would pass her by uncaring. She was scorned because of her age. She was just another old dog along the roadside. Had she been a young puppy; the story might have been different. Discarded puppies seem to strike a note of empathy with folks. The delightful, helpless little puppy along the road. How innocent! How sweet! Begging to be saved! But the old dog is viewed as more of a problem element. Just a stray. Just an old dog nearing the end of it’s life. It will probably be hit by a car. Probably is covered with fleas and ticks and lord knows what else. The old dog is not in the predicament it is in because of any desire on her part. She has been discarded by uncaring people. The same uncaring people who are driving by in their cars; who barely notice the old girl who is struggling on a daily basis to stay alive. Suddenly her muzzle raises and she sniffs the cold air, repeatedly making huffing sounds as she draws air through her nostrils. The smells are separated and disseminated and she arrives at the conclusion that there is food just ahead. She is a hound and her senses are rarely fooled. Her pace quickens and she soon arrives at a large building where people are entering and exiting. There is a crawl space under the building and she enters this area from the rear of the building. Garbage cans are sitting about and there are bits of table scraps lying on the ground beside them. She gobbles up the fare with zeal. There is not enough of the scraps to make a meal, but it is more than she has eaten in the past two days of scavenging along the roadway. The old hound turns to return to the crawlspace when she is startled to see a lady standing behind her. The dog did not hear the human approaching because she is nearly deaf. The vision caused the old hound to cower and step back a few steps. The lady threw down a few scraps for the dog. Bread, a piece of dough, cake and a pork chop bone devoid of any meat. The hound ate the scraps quickly. She tried to chew the bone but couldn’t. Her teeth were rotten and the nerves were exposed on three of her molars. Intense pain shot through her jaws as she tried and tried to crunch through the solid bone. Her natural instinct for survival compelled her to try again to eat the bone but the intense pain would not allow it. Her mouth in agony, she sought water to quench her thirst. She found a bucket that collected roof water sitting by a drain spout. The water was ice cold. She lapped up the liquid and the pain was renewed in her mouth. Her teeth would not allow her to even drink water in peace. Eventually, her rotten teeth would be her demise. It wouldn’t be long before she could not eat or drink. She stayed here, day after day, under the crawl space, eating the scraps and getting thinner and thinner. The small amount of food she was eating did not contain the elements to satisfy the needs of her body. It did, however, help stop the pain in her stomach due to emptiness. She was so thin that it appeared her ribs on one side would touch the ribs on her other side. It was predicted that the weather would turn extremely cold for the coming night. She might survive the first night in her crawl space., but in her undernourished condition survival would be doubtful if the temperatures stayed cold for a second night. And they would. She would have to maintain her life in twenty eight degrees temperature for the first night and eleven degrees the second night. As she sat near the building awaiting some scraps she noticed a couple of humans approaching her. What was this? Her alert buttons were pushed and she attempted to move away from them. She would be aloof. This has not happened before. Humans were actually taking notice of her.. She moved away further and crept back into her crawl space. The humans disappeared. They spoke softly to her and did not make any alarming gestures. They did not have food with them. Oh well. The old hound took up her position next to the building awaiting a morsel that might be discarded by some passerby. Then one of the humans came back outside and approached her. Soft words were spoken and she felt calmed. A cloth tether was placed around her neck and she was lead to a truck. The door opened and she was coaxed in. What was this? One thing for sure; she has not been this warm in weeks. Soon two humans returned and more kind word sounds were made and the old hound was calmed once more. Little did she know that her life would soon change drastically for the better. She would be saved from the agony of starvation. She would know comfort and peace. The old hound in the above piece has been named Julia. She lives here with me in this warehouse room. Julia has had veterinarian care and is doing fine. The old girl has had eight teeth removed, three of them with roots exposed . It had to be agony for her to drink cold water. Over the past few weeks, Julia has had the best soft foods and has regained much of her original weight. She has been transformed from an emaciated, starving dog to a dog who approaches me with her head held high and tail wagging. She will never know hardship again. It makes me feel good. No; Great! The clip below shows Julia now. She was in despicable condition when she was rescued.