It happens all the time. We get a call that there are some puppies in an abandoned house, or someone brings in a cardboard box or plastic tub full of them. Usually they are in bad shape. Starved, covered with fleas, missing patches of hair. Usually some of them have matted eyes. They smell awful and scream with hunger. It is a lot to take in.
This is animal rescue. The side of it that doesn’t normally get seen by the public. What they see is the end product; happy, healthy puppies, kittens, cats, and dogs that are just too cute to resist. This is understandable. People recoil from pitiful, stinking filthy things, yet that is what we often start out with. It isn’t their fault of course. They were just born in the wrong place or to the wrong people. Some lost their mothers, others were just dumped on the side of the road to fend for themselves which, of course, they can’t do.
Many times they are approaching death by the time we get them. Sometimes that time has just passed and there is nothing we can do but focus on the ones that are still with us. It is some of the most gut-wrenching and most rewarding work most people will ever experience but unlike some shocking or heartbreaking experiences, for full time rescuers it never goes away. The job is never done. There are always more of them out there that we don’t know about yet who will eventually find their way to us to put their last bit of dying faith in our ability to coax them back from the brink of that dark place that is beckoning them to it.
Although the rescued animal may think they are at the end, for us this is the beginning. For a puppy, kitten, dog, or cat that we rescue, it is the starting point for a different life, a life without hunger, fear, or senseless pain. But they don’t know that any more than they know why they were born into a world that has done its best to send them out of it as quickly as possible. Most of the time they have seen, felt, and lived through the worst that this life has to offer and experienced nothing else. It is all they have known and from their point of view, all they will ever know. Life is a cruel joke that nobody finds any humor in. Who can blame them for thinking that after all? They can’t see any other life. But we can. We know better. We have seen them before. Dozens of times. Hundreds of times, and we have intervened time and again to break that downward spiral that they are caught in and show them that there is more to life than hunger, pain, and cold.
Recently Dixie Adoptables got yet another pair of puppies in that fit this story perfectly. Abandoned, starved, sick, and helpless, they had that dull look in their eyes of a life that is trying to give up, sick of the misery, while their flesh holds on and fights for another few minutes, hours, or days. It is a scene that is all too familiar for us and we did what needed to be done. Bathing, feeding, vaccinations, wormer, visits to the vet. All routine.
Over the next few months, this blog series will follow them through whatever comes. We don’t know at this point what will happen with these puppies, but we will report it as we experience it, good or bad, glorious or tragic.
Come along with us if you are brave enough. This is what real animal rescue is about. It won’t be glossed over with happy pictures and glowing reports unless that is the real outcome. We expect that all of these puppies will become healthy and learn to trust people and eventually find a new home where they are loved. Maybe they will even forget about the horrible way their lives started out, but in animal rescue, there are no guarantees. We can only wait and see.