Monday, October 15, 2012

Dog rescue styles: Ms. Savvy-and-Sensible versus the Wahoooo Cowgirl

Night horror: haunting, bloody eyes (Photo: Katerina Lorenzatos Makris)

by Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

Having sustained my share of "love bites" in the past—to the tune of 50 stitches—I am no longer a very brave dog rescuer.  Nowadays I believe that discretion is the better part of valor, as the saying goes. You can't help anybody if you get hurt.

Also, in the case of the grotesquely bloody dog that friend Melissa Beamish and I found in the middle of the road one recent moonlit night, he had been barking at us from the moment we parked the car. Every time we tried to approach he’d dash off a few meters with his tail between his legs, then resume a defensive warning posture with head and tail high and stiff. He really did not seem to want us near him.

Also, I wasn’t crazy about the thought of catching sarcoptic mange, if that’s what the dog had. Some sources say the sarcoptic mange parasite does not pass from dogs to humans, but a couple of fellow rescuers swear that they’ve caught it from dogs they’ve picked up.

Since this dog did not seem to be in an emergency situation—he had been on the streets for at least two years and had endured the bloody lesions for several months, according to Petros (not his real name) the village resident who had been feeding him—I wimped out and settled for leaving the dog in situ for the time being, until we could make a better plan on how to rescue him.

“May we exchange phone numbers?” I asked Petros. “I don’t know how exactly we’re going to help, but I promise we will.”

Melissa added, “Don’t worry, Petros. You’re no longer in this alone. We will help.”

Impulse control

Armed with Petros’s mobile number, Melissa and I drove away. We had dinner. We talked about other things. 

At one point I said, “Whew, am I glad we didn’t pick up that dog. What a ginormous hassle it would’ve been to deal with a fresh rescue so late at night.”

Melissa made no comment. I got the feeling that if it had been up to her, she would have found a way to get that dog into the car and take him straight to Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK), the shelter where she had been volunteering some ten hours a day for almost a month solid.

What she did say was that whatever I decided to do, she would stand by me all the way, and help in every way she could. Coming from a person like Melissa, that's no empty promise. I knew she meant it.

But even while dropping her off at the downtown apartment where she was staying courtesy of ARK founder Marina Machado, I was congratulating myself on my wise decision.  And even while taking a shower and getting ready for bed, I smiled about how great it was to be able to do that—to come home and just take a shower and get ready for bed—instead of having the bother of an ailing, possibly aggressive dog on my hands.

What a savvy, sensible, pragmatic rescuer I had become, instead of the anything-goes, wahoooo!, wild cowgirl rescuer I used to be. 

Nope, no more of that impulsive nonsense for this gal. Tomorrow, in the clear light of day, I’d construct a clever plan for just what needed to be done and how to do it.

Smugly, with a few more pats on my own back, I climbed into bed, rested my head on the pillow, and pulled up the sheets.

There I lay. For hours. Eyes wide open.

Because all I could see in my head were his eyes—bloody, wary, and weary.

I am sick, those eyes had said, even while he barked and ran away. I am tired. I need some help.

Perhaps it is because we hear such voices in our heads that some people believe we animal rescuers are nuts. And maybe we are.

Carefully planned chaos

Friend and fellow rescuer Paley Cowan-Andersen once told me that if you’re looking for a dog, the best time to search is at dawn and at dusk, when they tend to be most active and foraging for food.

In the morning, soon after the hardworking full moon had ended her shift and left the skies to allow her colleague the sun to begin his chores, I was in the car headed for the village of Troianata.  Yes, me. At dawn. I, who am so not a morning person that halfway over there I realized I was wearing a left shoe from one pair of shoes and the right shoe from another, and that I had forgotten the dog food, my drivers’ license, and the camera.

Those were things that would have been carefully planned and packed by Ms. Savvy and Sensible rescuer. But the bloody dog in Troianata didn’t really need those things. What he needed right now was anything-goes, wahoooo! Wild Cowgirl. And she was on her way.

More articles about this dog:

Please visit The Dozen Dogs Diaries again soon for more about the bloody dog.

Better yet, sign in with the 'Join this blog' button above to receive an email notice whenever there's a new article.

Read Melissa Beamish's excellent blog about her round-the-world trip volunteering in animal shelters.

To donate or to volunteer on behalf of animals in Kefalonia, contact Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK), or Kefalonia Animal Trust (KATs).

The Dozen Dog Diaries (DDD) would be delighted if you'd spread the links to these articles. Please just keep in mind that reprint or re-post of more than a paragraph or two of the text or of any of the photos is allowable only by explicit permission from DDD, who may be contacted at youradopteddogATyahooDOTcom. Thanks for visiting!

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