Tag Archives: Humane Society

Lost Dog: The Hopes of Saving Addie

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Some humans possess a genetic disposition to love dogs. Like my wife Patricia, they join humane societies, manage dog parks, and respond viscerally to lost-dog reports.

On New Year’s Eve, 2017, a vacationing young couple from Atlanta, Georgia were in the Blue Ridge Mountains resort town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, when somehow Addie, their four-year-old, six-pound longhaired dapple dachshund ventured out into the night. As a desperate search began on the small town streets, an alarm went out on social media that caused people like my wife to take immediate action.

By the fourth search day, more than thirty volunteers encountered the dog owners and their fellow searchers in a cemetery (during a funeral) and in a ski area subdivision where Addie had been spotted. The very timid dog, however, continued to elude every attempt to catch her.

As the search continued into a second week, the owners had reluctantly returned home, but the Facebook pages devoted to Addie, as well as the barrage of texts, reported the search activities on an almost minute-by-minute basis. Day and night, “Addie’s Angels,” as the volunteers came to be called, kept faith in the hopes of saving the small elusive dog.

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Emily and Charles Heuer reunited with Addie. Photo by Erin Shelnutt.

Through a snowstorm and bitter cold nights, “Addie’s Angels” remained of one heart, one mind, and one purpose. Finally, at about 7 pm on Friday, January 13th, Addie was caught in a humane trap set in the crawl space under a burned house in the suspect area. The joyous news spread quickly to the “Angels,” and their relief was often bathed in tears.

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Some of “Addie’s Angels” at the clinic.

The next morning, the owner couple arrived from Atlanta to be reunited with Addie at an animal emergency clinic. About twenty of “Addie’s Angels” were on hand to greet them and to share in their reunion.

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Photo by Susanna Russell

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Addie’s Reception. Photo by Donna Hunsinger

 

One of the “Angels” arranged for the owners to have a pet-friendly hotel suite that night.

A meeting room space was also donated, and area food and beverage establishments furnished refreshments for an afternoon party to which all the volunteer searchers were invited.

The owner couple was overcome by the generosity of the mountain community, and sincere bonds of friendship were forged by the common experience of the previous two weeks.

I was merely the support person behind “Angel”searcher Patricia Joynes, but I did get to witness the reunion with Addie at the animal emergency clinic. As my wife and I talked about the emotional impact of her experience, she suggested that it could be the genesis of a poem.

And so it became:

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Photo by Patricia Joynes

The Hopes of Saving Addie

A New Year’s Eve vacation
in Blowing Rock, a resort
town in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
turned desperate by the loss of Addie,
a very timid dapple dachshund.

Only four years old and six pounds,
her black and gray long-hair coat
and tan colored face would soon
appear on Facebook and on wanted posters.

Find Addie became a social media cry
and over four hundred people “liked” and “shared”
while more than fifty searched
where early volunteers had seen her
in a cemetery woods and
the crest of a ski mountain.

Into the second week of sightings
and unsuccessful chases,
the forecast of a snow storm
made Addie’s Angels fearful
for her survival against the cold
and the potential of predatory coyotes.

Small animal traps baited
with Vienna sausage and rotisserie chicken
had only caught raccoons and feral cats,
but those bonded to Addie
and to each other by the search
kept faith and continued.

The police and fire departments,
The Humane Society and Animal Control
supported the volunteers with
infrared lights and night patrols
as the second week passed.

A crawl space under a burned house
was a suspected refuge for Addie,
and so multiple traps were set.
Then the night exploded in tears
with the news of her capture,
and she was taken in her trap
to an animal emergency clinic.

Her human companions arrived
for their reunion with Addie
the next morning and found
nearly twenty of Addie’s Angels waiting
to celebrate her safe return with them.

The joy of their common thanksgiving
was monumental as the bonds
of new friendships were on display.
Some termed it supernatural
in the way Addie had brought
them together in a winter
of such American social discontent.

A tiny dog had united all factions
in a common unselfish purpose.
In those fearful days
no one was separate from
the hopes of saving Addie.

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Addie with her new squeaky ball at her reunion reception. Photo by Donna Hunsinger.

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Dogs – Life’s Companions – Part 2 – Mili and Heidi

img_0496    It took a full year of mourning before Pat and I could consider another dog. Again we looked to the Watauga Humane Society shelter for an adoption. Pat made the heart connection to a small Pekingese-type female who had a distinctive under bite. As we processed the adoption, the shelter manager informed us that our new dog had been diagnosed with third-stage heartworms. Our adoption would require us to see the little princess through a risky two-stage treatment to kill the heartworms. We were warned that some dogs do not survive the treatment, which necessitated two extended periods of guarded non-activity. We accepted the responsibility and named our new family member Mili after a close veterinary doctor friend who had helped us care for Angel.

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Mili

Mili came through the heartworm treatment, and her personality emerged as a feisty little girl who was not easily affectionate. She nevertheless became Pat’s shadow as if she recognized the person who had chosen to save her. Mili regained her strength, energy, and endurance and became Pat’s companion on five-mile hikes from Bass Lake to the Moses Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Our long-haired friend was never a lap dog. She rather had an almost cat-like posture of independence. Mili soon settled into our household routine as Pat and I worked the literary life from our home office. None of us expected the arrival of a second dog.

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I was sitting on the bench rocker across from Angel’s shrine when a medium-size, tan, short hair female hound-like dog came down our street and shyly entered our front yard. I spoke a greeting to her, and she approached and then jumped up on the bench beside me. I reached out to pet her, and she put her head onto my lap. That was the scene that Pat witnessed when she pulled into our semi-circular front driveway. We both had questions concerning our collarless visitor who demonstrated a sweet, affectionate disposition. We fed and watered her, but we would not take her into the house for fear of Mili’s reaction. Then with night coming, I retrieved a large travel kennel from storage and fitted it with blankets to warm the dog against an early spring chill. The kennel was placed outside our front door on a covered porch.

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Heidi on a mountain hike

The next day, Pat began to search for the strayed dog’s owner. She did all the responsible things including posted and email notices, and “lost dog” newspaper ads, with no results. Pat then advised me that the dog’s teats indicated that she was pregnant or that she had recently had puppies. Her pregnancy was later confirmed when we took her for a vet examination. As the weeks passed, we were drifting into the “strayed and stayed” dog care category. When a freeze warning was issued for our area, we decided to bring the new dog, whom we had identified as a mountain feist breed, off the porch and into the house.

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Heidi and her litter of pups

The critical moment arrived as Mili confronted the new arrival. Mili may have smelled the vulnerability of the pregnant visitor whose size was not overwhelming and allowed the intrusion. Thus a new dog bed was provided for the stray that stayed, and she was named Heidi. Within a few weeks, Heidi birthed five puppies in our living room, with Mili in curious attendance. When the puppies were mature, they went for quick adoption at the Humane Society, but Heidi was too closely involved with us to go with them.

Mili and Heidi were frequent visitors to the Humane Society’s Arko Dog Park. Heidi was very social and ran free with the other dogs. Mili stayed close to Pat and could even dissuade a Great Dane who wanted to sniff her. Mili and Heidi were a pair of odd step-sisters.heidi-and-mili-2

The first time Heidi was taken on a hike, it was apparent that she had not been trained on a leash. She proved to be, however, a lovable companion who liked to be covered with a blanket when on the sofa or in her bed. No one could approach the house without Heidi sounding the alert. Mili would join the outcry, but Heidi got credit for being the major watchdog.

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Mili had been with us eleven years when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Our dearest friend, Tennessee veterinarian Mildred Bass, monitored the surgery progress and the subsequent holistic treatment, but our little feisty friend could not beat the cancer. Brave and remarkably active, she survived seven months longer than the surgeon’s most optimistic expectations. Pat’s constant care and Mili Bass’s recommended herbal medications, we feel, extended her life, and when she passed, it was mercifully only after a few hours of distress on her final day following her visit to the dog park. For weeks after, Heidi searched the house for Mili every time that Pat and I called her to go out.

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There is the possibility that we will outlive Heidi and that her loss will be another mournful event. Her cremated remains will be added to those of Angel and Mili on our property, and we will miss her. The emptiness of the house, however, will lead us back to the Humane Society shelter to find another dog companion. There are both responsibility and cost involved in living with a dog, but even as septuagenarians, we want to share our home with a four-legged friend.

 

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Dogs – Life’s Companions – Part 1 – Angel

Angel in the Driveway We never own our dogs. We only reside with them by ancient covenants that bond us. Life is defined by events that include both joy and pain. All human emotions apply in our close relationships with our dogs. It is thus appropriate that we honor these special friends as we would our beloved human family members with stories, photos, monuments, and sincere reflections of gratitude.

Pat and I have already had three canine companions in our married life, and they have been as dear to us as our own three daughters. A super intelligent Border collie came to us as an overnight guest after she had been spayed by the Watauga County (North Carolina) Humane Society. Pat, a member of the board at that time, and I were delivering blankets and needful supplies to the animal shelter when a member, who had just returned from the vet with a small black dog just out of surgery, approached us. She said that she did not want to return the still groggy female to the kennels and begged us to take her home for overnight care.Angel on sofa

We were then living in a rented condo that specified no pets, but we thought that we might get away with a one-night stay. We tried to bed the little dog down in a bathroom with a barrier at the door, but the dog jumped over it, and her incision site began to bleed. As a former Army veteran with medic training, I took the dog onto my lap to bandage her. She was so patient and trusting that we were amazed, and Pat remarked that she was an angel. That night we realized we were hooked, and that we must adopt her, so we arranged with our landlord to keep her at an added deposit fee. Her name was self-evident. She was Angel.

Angel and MontyAngel was seldom on a leash, and she went to work with us every day. At that time we had a retail store with an upstairs office, so Angel was both our home and office dog. Angel loved to leap into my lap as soon as I sat in my easy chair at home. She could be trusted to be let out to do her necessary business, never crossing the street or wandering off.

Angel was a wonderful hiking companion on the Blue Ridge Parkway trails. She kept us in sight and never got into trouble when presented with other dogs. In a high mountain meadow she delighted us as she raced in a zigzag pattern as if to raise quail or sheep from the high grass. For fourteen years she was our constant, ever faithful, ever loving companion. Her disposition was always playful and affectionate, and she was obviously the smartest dog we had ever known.

Angel gazing

The last months of Angel’s life, however, were challenging as she struggled with cancer. Her passing was mourned as that of a beloved family member. To memorialize her, we erected a wooden black silhouette of her wearing her collar and tags at the foot of a granite gravestone engraved with her name. The shrine site sits in a front-yard garden across from a two-person rocking chair bench. In this way, we daily honor and remember a wonderful friend who happened to be a Border collie.

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Canine Companions

Our canine companions Heidi and Mili

 In moving through life everyday there are events that move us emotionally.  For the writer, there are vehicles of expression that offer us release and celebration.

 My wife Pat and I have enjoyed the companionship of dogs for most of our lives.  We begin each morning in our sunroom with a coffee klatch that includes our two dogs—Mili, a Tibetan spaniel, and Heidi, a mountain feist—who find their way to our laps.  Mili came from our Humane Society and was saved from third-stage heartworms, and Heidi is a strayed and stayed who arrived at our door pregnant with what soon became five puppies.

 Prior to Mili and Heidi, we had Angel, another Humane Society shelter adoption.  Angel was a black border collie mix who was our constant companion at work or leisure for 14 years.  In our front yard garden there is a granite memorial headstone and a black wooden silhouette of her that has her former collar around its neck.

I share this emotional attachment to our own dogs in order to explain why I was so moved by a totally unexpected event while visiting a close friend at her veterinary clinic.  Unable to contain what I had witnessed and felt, I wrote this poem.

 Old Samoyed Whose Name I Did Not Know           

I did not expect to put you down

Old Samoyed whose name I did not know.

You lay on the treatment table

As I came through the clinic’s back door,

And my veterinary friend looked up

To explain that she had just put you to sleep.

I assumed she meant preparation for surgery

Because your thick white fur seemed so alive,

But then I saw the assistant approach

With a solemn expression and the brown plastic bags.

Your head was massive and expressionless.

You were immaculate, obviously loved,

But soon to disappear to light

As they bowed your muzzle, subdued your bushy tail,

And made an unstable package of you

With the dark wrinkled bags and coarse hemp twine.

I was asked to bear your hundred-pound weight

At one end of an unpainted plywood board,

And we shuffled with you to the bed of a pick-up truck

And followed your masters to your affluent home.

I supported you again to the far back yard

Where your master removed the sod

And made shovel prints in the Tennessee clay

That became slick gray murals swirled with red oxides.

He dug the hole, spading the earth

And breaking its back on the accumulating pile.

Not long or wide enough for a man,

A baby’s grave, dug deep in the memory of the soil.

You were nine, he said, the best dog

That they had ever had, and we continued

To measure your life against the hole to put you down.

Me, a stranger to your joys, bore witness

To your strength and beauty seconds after death.

Your masters grieve, and yet they have memories

Of you while I grieve who never saw you run,

Who arrived only in time to put you down,

Old Samoyed whose name I did not know.

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Filed under Animal Sanctuary, Writing