I have Pertussis. Whooping cough. Yesterday I was a good patient and turned off my computer, turned off my phone, took my medications and napped most of the day. I'm an animal rescuer, this is hard for me. I never take a minute off for fear I will miss out on helping an animal in need. It's irrational and I should call my shrink, I know. I turned on my computer last night for two seconds, "just to check". Two. Seconds.
And I saw her. This skinny, scared, scabbed up mess of a dog. Her eyes were pleading for help, her posture was pathetic, she was just a puppy. She has Demodectic Mange, a skin disease caused by mites in dogs who have some sort of compromised immune system or stress.
Networking was done, an approved foster home was waiting, phone calls were made, and this morning I drove with a friend to Waterbury to pick her up. When we saw her, we both burst into tears. This. Poor. Puppy. Her skin is raw and looks like it's growing layers of fungus. Most of her hair is gone. She is bleeding from open sores and from scratching herself. Her face is swollen and wrinkled, her feet puffy and purple, she is in pain. And she catapulted herself into my arms, licking my face, and using my bent leg to itch her butt.
It was love at first sight.
We named this little angel Jem and took her straight to our vet in Fairfield. Dr. Suhie of Highway Animal Hospital estimates Jem is about 9 months old and has probably been living in this discomfort for the better half of her life. She is only 35 lbs. and needs to put on about 10-15 to be at a healthy weight. She was perfectly still for a skin scraping, and wagged her tail when I leaned over her to give kisses.
After her vet appointment, we had some time to kill before her foster mama got out of work, so we went to the store to get her some supplies. She picked out some big, floppy, pink toys for herself. She did "sit" for a cookie. She made a kind lady cry when we told her her story, and that kind lady left $20 at the counter toward Jem's supplies (thank you!). We got her some good quality food, some supplements for her skin, a nice soft harness that won't irritate her skin, and a hot pink leash to match.
Afterwards, we went for a walk in the park. Not a long walk, because her poor little feet are so sore, but we spent some time in the sun relaxing. She curled up in my lap and whimpered, and finally lay her head down, comfortable. By the time we had to go, I couldn't bear to make her walk on those puffy purple paws, so I carried her back to the car. She happily jumped into her crate and curled up on her bed, and when I tucked a bright pink blanket around her she curled up in a ball, covered her face in blankey, and sighed happily.
My heart hurts for her. How? How can such a sweet, loving, beautiful soul be so deeply neglected? How can someone walk by this angel and not help? How did it get THIS BAD? Sadly, these are questions we will never have answers for. I personally will never understand the kind of apathy that allows these animals to continue suffering.
What I do know, is that Jem is safe. She is on a fluffy comfy dog bed in front of a wood burning stove in a wonderful foster home. She ate a big dinner, had a ton of cookies, did potty outside and had a nap. She has started her pills and supplements and will have a medicated bath tonight. She has a long, hard road ahead of her, but she now has the tools and the support to become a healthy dog. One day, when she has healed, she will find herself in a forever home with a loving family who will never let her suffer a day in her life.
For this, Jem is thankful. I am thankful. Rescuers everywhere are thankful for the countless animals like Jem who get a second chance. We do it through networking, through the support of Facebook followers, through fundraising and donations and a TON of sleepless nights. And we do it because they deserve it.
So in this month of Thanksgiving, we thank everyone who has been part of this girl's story thusfar. I am thankful that we have the opportunity to help this girl, and I am so thankful she's got such a network of support behind her. She may not be able to thank us in words, but one look into those puppy eyes as she sighs before going to sleep is more than words could say.
To give toward Jem's care, please click here http://projectpreciousrescueinc.chipin.com/jems-journey-help-us-help-a-puppy-with-sever-demodex-mange