Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pregnant and abandoned is no way for a dog to spend Mother’s Day

Waiting at our front gate
First the facts:

She was pregnant.

She was abandoned. Not once, but twice. By two different men.

She was suspicious of people. (What a surprise.)

She was heavily infested with ticks—on her eyelids, ears, throat, chest, and rump.

Because she wears a diamond on her shoulder—a white patch of fur in the shape of that crystal—and because she is a jewel herself, to me she became “Diamandi,” Greek for diamond.

And she was waiting for me.

Just as I arrived back at our house on the island of Kefalonia from Athens, where I’d loaded my previous rescue/foster Princess Kali Amanda on the plane to fly to her adopters in Denmark, under the auspices of rescue group Graeske Hunde—right when I drove up—Diamandi sat there waiting at our front gate.

Challenging my Lenten vow

I almost made it. For 40 days from late February till Greek Easter in April, I’d sworn off rescuing and/or fostering any more dogs.

During that time I already had a rescue in progress—an energetic teenager, the elegant yellow Labrador mix Princess Kali Amanda, who was a big project. Her care and the complicated international delivery to her forever family in Denmark ate up many of my waking hours and even some of the hypothetical sleeping ones.

While I fostered Kali there was almost no time left for accomplishing the tasks for which I’d come to the island of Kefalonia—salvaging our crumbling old house there and working on writing projects. Certainly there was no time, let alone energy, to take in a second rescue.

But it was hard to resist. Street dogs wander and chained dogs languish everywhere, some in reasonable shape, others near death.

For Lent, I vowed to give it up. The canine species is one of my great passions in life, but rescuing nearly 130 of them in the past 10 years has created a major distraction from the things I am supposed to be doing. Like, for instance, earning a living. And how about living up to innumerable promises and responsibilities that are too embarrassing to list due to the fact that so many of them have not been lived up to?

All on her own

Diamandi lurked around our village throughout the long, harsh winter. Some of the neighbors fed her. She found shelter here and there, they said.

For the first several weeks I had assumed she had a home. Her best friend seemed to be another female dog named Froso. Diamandi devotedly followed Froso everywhere, the same way other dogs follow their humans. Since Froso belonged to a family around the corner from us, I thought Diamandi was theirs too.

Also one of the neighbors let her accompany him and his own dog on their daily walks through the countryside, a regular bit of companionship that I noticed she seemed to cherish. She never missed it, and she often skipped around in excitement at the sight of that neighbor and his dog.

But aside from those walks and her friendship with Froso, Diamandi was on her own.

Nibbled at my conscience

Originally, some guy had brought her to the village, I was told, and he kept her chained up, quite common in Greece. Then he moved out and left her behind. Also common.

Next, another guy took pity on her and decided to keep her at his house in a different village. But for whatever reason, he brought her back. And left her there. Again.

All winter, after I realized she had no home, Diamandi nibbled at my conscience. But she wouldn’t come anywhere near me. Plus I was barely managing to care for and make the travel and adoption plans for Kali, the first one. Would it be fair to anybody, including Kali, to take in a second?

As I prepared for the road trip to Athens for Kali’s flight to Denmark, the weather began to warm, and I knew all too well what that meant.  Most un-spayed female dogs on the island soon would go into season. By summer they’d give birth to unwanted litters of puppies who they’d have to raise with little or no help. Diamandi would probably be one of those struggling mothers.

The night before Kali and I left, I saw two different males following Diamandi. If they accomplished their missions, in a few weeks she was going to have one heck of a Mother’s Day. She’d be hugely pregnant, nearing her due date, and still on the streets.

A hard choice

When you’re crazy about dogs, and you’re surrounded by dogs who need help, you end up making choices you don’t like.

To get Kali to Denmark, which required a one-hour drive, followed by a three-hour boat trip, followed by a five-hour drive, followed by a search for the pet store where I needed to buy Kali’s transport crate, followed by an overnight in a hotel, followed by another one-hour drive to the airport and the subsequent complicated process of getting her on the plane, I had to force myself to forget about Diamandi.

At least temporarily.

Please see the next article about Diamandi.

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1 comment:

  1. Kat-Ur stories draw me in so deep. I can't wait for the next section.