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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday ~ When There Are No Words






Some of you know, that when I'm not writing I have been running my own dog rescue.  God's Grace Dog Rescues has focused on rescuing dogs from death row in rural kill shelters.

I know the idea of Wordless Wednesday is to post pictures that need no words, but tonight, in honor of one amazing dog, there will be words in his honor... at a time when there are no words that will help mend my heart.



This is Tramp.  And this is his story.



Tramp first appeared in my life on Facebook.  He was listed as a female mix-breed stray named Topaz.  Likely because his beautiful curly coat had such wonderful shades of topaz and amber running through the black and gray.  I'm not sure why he was listed as a female, a clerical error perhaps.  

This is his shelter intake picture:


He was scared as you can tell by his crouching, tail-tucked, stance.  And he was at the shelter for quite a while and in danger of being put on the "death row" list.  Several people worked tirelessly posting the dogs at the shelter, including "Topaz" as he was known then.  One day, we all got word that "she'd" been adopted.  We rejoiced, thanking the adopter, thanking those that cross-posted and shared "her" picture.  Sadly, when the adopter got him home and her dog attacked him, they realized this was not a female dog... this was a male dog... and their dog didn't like other male dogs.

So, "Topaz" was returned to the shelter.  A stray that is long in the shelter is in danger of being placed on the euth. list.  A dog that is owner surrendered is in even more danger of ending up on that list.  A dog returned to a shelter goes even higher on that list.  Topaz was in danger, again.

I couldn't stand that this dog was on death row, then adopted, then returned, and then on death row again.  So, some of the volunteers and I coordinated it so that he could catch a ride here to my rescue.

When I got him here, he was really friendly, seemed curious, and wanted to explore the yard.  I noticed he had on a collar.  I wrestled him into a belly rub so that I could get a closer look.  He had tags!  Better yet he had a "home again " chip tag and a return to owner tag!  The tag said his name was "Trap".  I wasted no time calling the home again number and the number on "Trap's" tag.

Realizing I had someone's precious pet in my hands, I gave him a bath, treated him for worms, fleas, and ticks, and sat back smiling.  I just knew this funny, fuzzy-faced, ball of love and laughter was someone's baby.... and they had to be missing him!

Days passed, all the while Tramp was in my home... after all a beloved-pet and such a laid-back dog had to house-broken.  He never once lifted a leg in the three days he was inside my home.  I called his owners daily.  Surely they had to be missing him.

Finally, on day four the call came.  I had Trap's collar but not Trap.  I had a stray that was adopted and returned to the shelter because he was a he and not a she.  The adopters had put their dog's collar on "Topaz" in order to get a leash on him so they could coax him into the car to go back to the kill shelter.  I made arrangements to return the collar to them and gave "Topaz" a good long look.

A stray.  Well-behaved enough to not chew up anything, follow my commands to stay off furniture, and never once potty in my house.  This was some dog!  I took a good look at him, instantly thinking of my favorite dog from my favorite Disney Movie.  Tramp.  Just like Tramp from Lady & The Tramp... this dog was more than some street-smart stray.

Tramp was happy here.  He loved the other foster dogs, he loved my dogs, he even loved the crazy cat.  He loved my sons.  He loved me.  He liked to jump up and give me hugs.  One of his favorite things was to lay in the sun by the pool. 


He was a really, really good boy.

His favorite thing in the world was a good long belly scratching!


I tried very hard to find Tramp a perfect forever family.  He was a great dog, calm, happy, playful, loving, smart, and well-mannered.  He was a Schnauzer mix... so he didn't even shed!  In fact, the only thing that Tramp seemed to have a problem with was Chickens.  I sent him to a loving foster when my rescue became very full (over-full really) but he chased her roosters.  So, back he came to me.  Three times at the shelter, rescued and fostered here, and then sent out once to an outside foster, and then back to me.  It was clear that he was here until I found the perfect family for him.

Tramp got in six applications for adoptions in the six months he was with me.  One family didn't check out, but all the others did.  We ran into some trouble finding funding to get him fully vetted (neutered) and one family ended up adopting a different dog because they didn't want to wait.  Another was too far away and we couldn't find transport for him.  At one point a Northern rescue wanted him, but he had to be neutered first.  The waiting list at Wally's was long.  Even with donations trickling in, I didn't have enough for him to be neutered through a private vet's office.  So he waited, and I waited, and the transport came and went.  We kept trying and every day I told him, "Maybe tomorrow."

I kept praying for a family with a little boy to be Tramp's best buddy.  Someone to play ball with, take walks with, frolic in the yard with, and snuggle up in bed with at night.

No one came.  Tramp learned to climb the chain link.  I live in the country... not near a main road... but between two creeks and woods.  We have coyotes here.  It's not safe for a dog to roam at will.

My husband and I put a roof on the kennel and put Tramp in there at night to keep him safe.  Somehow, the little booger always managed to wiggle out.  One night he got in the creek and came back soaking wet.  I was just thankful that nothing awful happened to him. 

My husband and I went to the kennel and put a better roof on it.

I should probably mention that I would have kept Tramp inside full time, but our little black rat terrier lost his vision and was not doing well adjusting to any new dogs being inside.

So Tramp was an outside dog, that I tried to keep safe, and prayed every night for someone... some loving family to come for him.  To give him more than I as a foster who was at the time fostering 7 dogs besides Tramp, could give him.

He had food, love, medical care (that I could provide/afford), and a safe kennel and house for night.  During the day he had 5 acres and several dogs to play with.  It was better than death row at the kill shelter... but it wasn't a "real" home.

So, before Christmas when a really good adopter came to me and said she knew someone who'd love Tramp... we began the adoption process.  I'm very picky.  I fell in love with how much the woman that came for him fell in love with him.  Paper work was completed, references called, all t's were crossed, i's were dotted, and Tramp was ready to go to his forever home... at last.

I cried when he left.  I always do.  Oh, more than anything I want them ALL to get the wonderful family and forever home they deserve... but I fall in love with every dog I foster, and I miss them, and I cry both happy and sad tears when they go home.

I checked up on him a few times, and was told all was well.

Imagine my shock when I saw a picture on Facebook saying "Scruffy needs a home!"

Meet Scruffy:


It was my Tramp!

I started sending out messages trying to find out what was going on, why did this person have Tramp, why did he need a home?

You see in my adoption contracts it states that if for ANY reason you cannot keep a dog you adopt from me, you call me, let me know, and you return that dog to me.  If you can't make it to me, I'll come to you.

No one told me anything about Tramp not working out... or needing a home.

Turns out Tramp's adopters "lost" him soon after adopting him.  He got away from them and they "couldn't find him".  This all happened within weeks after his being adopted.  They never told me.  No one did.  Had I not seen his picture listed on Facebook... I'd have never known.

Luckily for Tramp, and let's remember this dog has been VERY lucky - twice on death row, twice a stray now, he happened to wander into the yard of a loving animal advocate.  She took him in, took him to the vet for his shots, a rabies vaccine, and had him neutered (all of which the adopters had signed a contract to do but had failed to do).  In the several months this kind person had Tramp she did all she could for him and reached out for help- he needed foster, a rescue, a home.

No one stepped up.

Once I saw the picture, found out what was going on, and who had him, I reached out to her and I made plans to try to come get Tramp.  Because I have a dog here that is known to be somewhat dog aggressive, I started sending out a plea for help.  If someone could take Tramp for a few days, if someone could refoster Lexi for me, if another Rescue could step up.  I posted, and reposted, I sent messages to every other rescue I could think of.

No one stepped up.

Rescues are full and over-flowing.  Foster homes are all over-full.  There are no "no-kill shelters" in this area.  For every dog I've posted as being on death row and needing a family there have been ten ads for "dogs for sale", "puppies for sale", and "Looking for a dog to breed to my dog" ads.  Shelters are full, rescuers are overwhelmed, and yet people continue to breed, to buy, to sell.

And as for the rest of the people that saw the posts where I listed dogs and begged for help finding them good homes... they commented things like "Someone save this dog" and "Wish I could help but..." and "I hope you find someone".

With no help on the horizon, I decided to go get Tramp, and bring him home, and do the very best I could to make his days here comfortable and pleasant until I finally DID find him just the right rescue or forever home.  I sent a few messages to the woman that had been taking care of him to see where she lived and when I could come get him.

I didn't hear from her.... she'd been off Facebook a while, and though I'd sent her my number I'd failed to get hers.

Tonight, I heard from her.

Tramp had been hit by a car.  He died... in her arms.  The person who hit him didn't even slow down or stop.  Just drove on as if it was no big deal.

It was a big deal.  To me, to his current foster home, to every single person that had sent donations for Tramp, to all those that had a special place for him in their hearts.  It was a huge deal.

I'll never forgive myself for not finding him the right home.  
I'll never forgive myself for not going to get him in time.
I'll never forgive myself for not saving him a fourth and final time.

This is rescue.  This is what happens when no one steps up.  This is what happens when one or two people try to step up and make up for all those who say "I wish I could help but..." and "Someone please help...".

Guess what?  Sometimes YOU are that someone.

About 20 people shared Tramp.  Out of over 600 Facebook Friends.  Out of over 500 people who follow my rescue page.  20 shared his story... my pleas for help.

Tonight, Tramp died a death he didn't deserve.

Tonight, Tramp left behind a lot of broken hearts.

A handful of people cared that this wonderful boy had been saved not once, not twice, but three times from a cruel death.  And in the end, he met a cruel death anyway.  Because only a handful of people cared.  This is a big, big world.  It breaks my heart to know that a lucky family out there might have seen him, adopted him, and this whole thing might have had a happy ending... if only more than a handful had cared enough.

I go to bed with a heavy heart, and the small comforts I have are in knowing.. that if only for a little while he was loved, and that when he left this world he had a fan-club that prayed for him to find the kind of home and family he deserved- I hope he knew that- how many of us loved him.

Goodbye Tramp.  You were a very good boy.  You took with you a piece of my heart and soul... and I will never forget you.  Thank you for all the smiles, the happy goofy times we shared while you were here with me, and for all the joy your precious little heart expressed every single time you saw me coming your way with a tennis ball, a treat, or just hands ready to give you a good belly-scratch.

In the end, I guess you got a forever home and family better than any I could have found for you here on earth.  I hope the angels are giving you belly-rubs right now.  You will never be lost, alone, scared, cold, or hungry again.  Your death was not easy but you will never know pain again.  I hope all the joy, peace, and love you have around you now will help you forget all the sad times or suffering you experienced as an unwanted stray.  Please remember those that loved you enough to fight for you and to try to make a difference in your life.  We tried so hard boy, we all tried so hard.  I'm sorry it wasn't enough.

Across that rainbow bridge... you finally find the life you deserve and the unconditional love that you so willingly gave to myself and everyone your short life touched will finally be returned to you.

Run free my furry friend...




Many of you know the story of the Rainbow Bridge 
where dogs go to wait for their owners 
before crossing into Heaven together...

But what about the lost? 
The strays? 
The dogs that die in shelters without an owner? 
What happens to them? 

This:
The area around the Rainbow Bridge is sunny, warm but not too warm, flowers, grass and all the animals have been restored to a youthful healthy state. On one particular day it was unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch. It wasn’t long before an elderly dog came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often. He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness. Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again! As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge. With no place else to turn to, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly. They weren’t playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting. One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn’t understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for a while to explain it to him. “You see, that poor animal was abandoned by his owners. He was turned into a shelter just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of the shelter and passed on. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge. “ The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, “So what will happen now?” As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life. “Watch, and see” said the second animal. A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed him towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together. 
“What happened?” 
“That was an animal rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of his work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn’t place on earth, 
across The Rainbow Bridge."

“I think I like rescuers,” said the first animal.

“So does GOD,” was the reply.

~*~

The original Rainbow Bridge Poem:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, 
so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

(Author unknown)

6 comments :

Julie W. said...

Tramp was such precious soul. I could see it just in his photos. He captured my heart when he was at the shelter. You gave him love when no other would. Because of you, he knows what love is. Thank you for making a difference in his life and so many others. God called Tramp home because he has special plans for him. He will be waiting for you at that Rainbow Bridge. RIP Tramp...You were loved.

Anneke Turner said...

I'm so sorry.
- A

J. S. Bailey said...

Donna, I'm so sorry that this happened but you can't beat yourself up about this. You sound like a very loving and caring person who did the best that she could for a creature who had no one else. [hugs]

DM Kilgore said...

Thank you Julie... for everything. Your help and encouragement along the way meant so much to me. Tramp was one special dog, for sure.

DM Kilgore said...

Thanks Anneke. And thank you for dropping by and for checking in on me at SNHU. You're a sweetheart.

DM Kilgore said...

Thanks J.S. I love them all, and take it on as my personal responsibility to be sure they get the lives they deserve. I know sometimes it is out of my hands... but it's hard for me not to feel responsible.

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