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[N.B. This is an old post from a defunct blog whose title I had forgotten. Dumpling was a companion to Hobbes and a worthy sparring partner for Bluebelle, RIP, and a story for another time.]
Dumpling, a regal, clear thinking Collie and a little something-else mix, had suffered tremendously.
She was found on someone’s lawn, and she looked for all the world to be dead. In fact, the homeowner called the dog warden to “pick the dead dog up” from his yard. When the agent arrived, Dumpling was lying still, but had her eyes open and intently gazed at the person who picked her up and gently laid her in the truck.
At the noisy dog pound, something about those eyes – clear as glass and with a steady direct gaze, made the warden call an animal rescuer and tell a pretty big lie.
“Why, this is a pretty, middle-aged Collie girl.” “You’ll like her, just come and see.”
When the rescuer arrived at the shelter, she was directed to the first pen on the right, where a starved, ancient old dog lay in a fetal position. Her gaze didn’t even lift up to look around. She had the look of defeat – that look that says, “I’m done in this world.”
Horrified, the rescuer struggled to regain her composure and simply told that agent that she would adopt the dog immediately. She paid the fee, and then put away the leash to kneel down to the old, shriveled dog.
“Would you like to let me carry you to a pillow in the car?” she asked the Collie.
Gently inserting her hands under and around her, the rescuer discovered that each rib jutted painfully through the frail skin and worn-away coat.
Carefully, akin to holding a gossamer strand of glass, she lifted the Collie up and into her arms.
The hind legs dangled at crazy angles, and the dog’s spine seemed curved and bent beyond what any rules of nature would allow. The old Collie hung her head and showed no effort to help or to resist the move.
Even the dog warden watched silently and held her breath.
The worn out Collie was placed on a large pillow in the back of the SUV. In spite of the sunny autumn day, the rescuer turned the heat up in the car, and covered the dog with a soft blanket.
She murmured in whispers to the dog on the way home.
“What’s your name? What is a pretty name for such a beautiful soul? How about Dumpling? Would you like that?”
Glancing at the dog through the rearview mirror, the rescuer didn’t see any signs of movement. When they arrived home, Dumpling lay still and in the same position as when she was placed in the car. She was carried into the house and placed on another large pillow on a bed.
The phone call to the veterinarian went thus: “I think she’s given up and that she’s in incredible pain. Shall I bring her in to be euthanized?”
“Let me see how she does through the night and whether she tells me she wants to fight or to stop the struggle. Yes, tomorrow will be fine. See you then.”
The rescuer gave the dog some warm baby cereal and broth, and Dumpling weakly lifted her head with help and licked at it. She stayed passive while a lambswool coat was placed on her and while her overgrown claws were clipped and removed from the pads of her feet, where they had been embedded.
That night, she was placed on a large pillow next to the rescuer on her bed, and Dumpling went to sleep with the rescuer’s hand cradling her head.
In the morning, the rescuer bustled about, greeting the other animals and getting ready for the day ahead.
First thing on the agenda was to take Dumpling to the veterinarian to be euthanized.
Sadly she bundled Dumpling into the car, but she noticed that Dumpling was taking notice of her surroundings with that knowing, intent gaze.
During the ride to the clinic, the rescuer was already grieving for the dog who had endured such agonies, and she didn’t quite see Dumpling struggle to sit up and look out the window.
However, when they arrived, the rescuer did notice that Dumpling had moved herself and was trying to sit erect, although her hind legs splayed out from beneath her in odd angles. When she went to lift her from the car, Dumpling struggled to stand, and the rescuer noticed how hunched and distorted her back and legs were. But Dumpling insisted on walking unaided into the clinic.
The vet spent a long time in listening to her heart and to her lungs and looking at her back and legs.
He thought for a long while and said, “Why don’t we take this day by day and see what she tells us? Let’s start by taking a picture of her spine and legs and feeding her good groceries.”
When the X-rays were developed, the vet and the rescuer collectively groaned.
For every part of the spine from the ribs back to the tail had been broken and left to mend on their own. They had fused into odd angles, and that accounted for Dumpling’s strange sideways and crab-like walk.
“She has to be in pain, so let’s treat her with anti-inflammatories and see how she does.”
Dumpling also had several large tumors on her back and face, and her coat was almost gone over her hips and tail. She was placed into a large tub of warm bath water, and for the first time, she let out a whimper. Of relief of being able to feel some comfort or just to acknowledge the pain, she relaxed into the bath.
Over the next few weeks, Dumpling ate and ate, and she walked a little bit more each day. What a surprise when she climbed up steep stairs on her own the first time!
Since winter was fast approaching, and cold weather meant a need for more dog coats for the others, the rescuer planned a trip to the local big box pet store, where animals were invited to shop along with their people.
Dumpling now stood by the gate, always waiting to be invited to ride in the car. Since she had visited the vet so many times, and each visit resulted in feeling better and receiving treats, she loved the car, and the good times the rides brought for her.
This time, Dumpling was helped onto her favorite travel pillow and eagerly looked at the passing scenery. Before long, she was “whooping” to let the driver know that the route wasn’t the way to the vet. By the time they arrived at the store, Dumpling wasn’t at all sure about what was to come next.
She was carefully lifted from her pillow and placed on the ground. Wearing her prettiest collar and lead and sporting new and healthy hair coat on her back and hips, she sidled into the store and….
Hey! This place has dog stuff! And food! And people who pet you! And look over there…!
Dumpling carefully, oh so carefully, inspected each and every article found at Collie nose level. She greeted all of the other shoppers by coming up to say hello and placing a long Collie muzzle on their knee to pet.
She was careful to give not-so-friendly looks to other dogs, lest they interfere with her “shopping” experience.
However, her Collie upbringing prevented her from growling or being unfriendly with them. Her clear, intent, and wise gaze was eventually fixed on the food manager of the store, who came over to meet her. Apprised of her history, his eyes softened, and he offered her a treat which she graciously accepted.
After visiting with the songbirds and listening appreciatively to their warbling and trills, Dumpling was finally ready to check out with her rescuer. Discreetly and delicately for a dog missing most of her teeth, she placed her conveniently elongated muzzle into the rawhide bin and selected three choice pieces as they were waiting on line.
By now, the manager had shared Dumpling’s tale with other store staffers, and her feat at the rawhide bin did not go unnoticed. Applause was given to the now regal Collie who once again was interested in living and giving pleasure to those lucky enough to be near her. Dumpling accepted her due with grace and calmly deposited her treats on the counter.
But I wonder, who received the finest gift that day?
- Hobbes and the Holidays (incompatiblewithlife.wordpress.com)
- Border Collie Dogs (dogster.com)