“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” Karen Davison
When Brian worked at his brother’s east side car lot he came across stray dogs all the time. He would pick them up, bring them home, we would take them to the vet, get the repaired, train them and find them homes. Although we don’t live or work on the east side anymore, if I see a stray I stop the car and do something about it.
After we moved to West Park we got a reputation for stealing dogs from people who mistreated them.
A postal worker had been delivering mail to a house for a few years, always saw a dog in the back yard, and noticed one summer when it was getting into fall that the dog was getting skinny, skinny, skinny. She found out the homeowner had gotten another dog and was starving the backyard dog to death.
Animal Control told her the dog wasn’t being visibly mistreated. She was distraught. One day she was telling somebody who knew Brian and me about it.
“I know these crazy awesome people that will go steal that dog. Just give me the address,” said our friend.
She gave our friend the address of the skinny starving dog.
It was Thanksgiving night. We had dinner, set the alarm for 2:30, and went to bed. When we woke up it was storming lightning and thunder.
“That’s a good sign,” said Brian. “In case the dog barks the thunder will hide the barking.”
“What about the lightning flashes?”
He didn’t say anything.
We filled our pockets with turkey. When we got there it was pitch dark. We walked up to the fence and the dog came running. Brian unlatched the gate. The dog came to the gate and sniffed him up. We gave the dog some turkey, he was happy, and he went right to the car with us.
The next morning we called the mail lady. She had told our friend she would take care of the dog.
“We have the dog,” said Brian.
“What? You have her?”
“Yeah, you want to pick her up?”
The next day, when she walked up to our front door, she was looking around in all directions. You would have thought we were doing an illicit drug transaction. Many people think dogs are their property, but when dogs are mistreated, I don’t care about your philosophy of property.
If you’re starving a dog you should have it taken away from you. When you chain a dog up, and get a kick out of it, you need some mental health. You’re one step away from being a serial killer.
A friend of ours had one of our rescues. We kept in touch. She called us one day and said her neighbor was kicking and whipping his dog. “He leaves the dog in his sweltering garage all day, too.”
She was in tears. “I can’t take it anymore.”
“Can’t you do anything?”
“I’m afraid of him, but I can’t let the dog live like that.”
“The minute he leaves, call us, we’ll get the dog,” I said.
When she called us we walked right into the man’s garage. The back door wasn’t even locked. We took the dog, who was in bad shape, because the man had been taking his belt and whipping the shit out of it.
If you treat a dog like that I can’t imagine how you treat your kids and wife.
The young German Shepherd had heartworms, which we got fixed, and we found him a loving family.
Brian went and rescued a pit bull bait dog one morning that my niece-in-law’s sister told us about.
“You stay home, just in case there’s trouble,” he said.
It was seven o’clock in the morning, He walked up to the backyard, where there was no food no water no shelter, and pulled the dog over the fence. The next minute he was gone. That was that, no more docile dog for a mean dog to attack.
It’s not always that easy, although it can be. We were told about a Great Dane in Hough that was left alone chained to a post all day and night in all kinds of weather. When we got there we found out the people were on vacation. Their neighbor was in his backyard.
“I’m here to take the dog,” said Brian.
“What are you going to do with him?”
“We’re going to find him a good home.”
Brian cut the dog’s chain and we took him away.
Most of the dogs we rescue we find by word-of-mouth or Facebook. I have lots of dog rescuer friends on Facebook. When we rescue a dog we take them to a vet, take them to our house where they can play with our dogs, and work to find them homes. Those dogs are put in our path for a reason. That reason is to help them.
We find the money for it all by praying.
We have a vet who we’ve had for a long time. We took a dog to him that Brian found running in the street. The owners of the dog were chasing him. A chain was dragging behind him and there was a padlock on his neck, a padlock that was so tight it was embedded in the skin. Brian scooped him up on the fly.
“This is the cruelest thing ever,” said our vet.
He wouldn’t charge us for that surgery, just like he doesn’t for many others. Brian rescues dogs all the time. He found one when he saw some people stopped at the side of the road and noticed they were yelling and throwing rocks at a dog.
“What the hell are you doing?”
They got in their car and took off. He found a mastiff in the bushes, gained its trust, and the next thing I know there’s Brian with the dog.
He found Gretel the same way, on a street somewhere on the east side, escaping from who knows what. I was making soup for our pastor when he brought her home. I gave the soup to the dog, instead.
“What are we going to do with her?” asked Brian.
“We’re going to keep Gretel,” I said.
“That’s her name,” I said.
She was the sweetest dog ever. It made her day the day she came to live in our home. We kept her with us until the day she died.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.