"Stop! It's a dog!" I say as his head suddenly turns to look right at us as he hears our truck approaching. His little body immediately crouches to the ground, the fear in his face palpable. The look on his precious face is heart-wrenching.
When Tom and I get out of our truck, the young dog runs the other direction. We squat low and I call to him in a high-pitched voice. "Come here, baby." He stops and looks at me, assessing.
"It's OK, Sweetie. Let us help you. Come on, Buddy." He starts his arc towards us with a few uncertain steps. Is that hopefulness I read in his face? Sadly, many dogs in this part of the country are meeting this fate of being dumped on a deserted road, I'm learning. "That's it, Honey, come on ..."
It doesn't take this emaciated little boy long to finish his approach. He looks straight into my eyes and begins licking my chin. It seems like his whole being is saying, "Thank you, oh, thank you! I have been alone and scared for so long ..." He looks to only be 7 or 8 months old. He smells horrible & is filthy. His ribs protrude. He is intact, which didn't surprise me.
Maddie hangs her head out the back window. He tries to reach her to sniff noses. Her lip curls ever so slightly, expressing her rank as the older dog & claiming her territory. We stop them from sniffing, although it's hard.
Our only choice is to put him on the floor of the front seat at my feet. We're concerned about what diseases he might have with Maddie in the back seat. His body totally stiffens as Tom helps him into the truck. This little boy really wants to get to Maddie, so this is challenging. I did T-touch with him and he relaxes, looking into my eyes. Tom and I both sense his extreme relief at no longer being on the run.
Now what? It's a Sunday. We're in an area we don't know. Lucky for new technology, though, as Tom's phone is a little computer, so we can look for animal shelters and vets to call. But nothing is open.
That's when I notice the red bug crawling on the pup's neck. I pick it out and flick it out the window. Then another ... and another. Oh my God, they are crawling all over him! Not living in a big flea area of the country, I don't know what they are at first -- then I strongly suspect fleas. I later learn I'm right.
I'm realizing our only option may be to get him groomed and treated for his fleas in case we need to keep him overnight and take him to the Laguna Madre shelter on Monday. Not a great option in a condo where the management company we are renting from is looking the other way so we can have our own dog and cat there.
Finally, I'm connected with Police Dispatch. At this point we have stopped on a dirt road to let the little guy out. Maddie is totally perplexed and wondering why this boy is on her leash while she is stuck in the car.
The officer tells me I can take him to the Brownsville Animal Shelter and place him inside the fence as they check every few hours for animals on the week end. I ask him questions re: treating the fleas at the shelter. He advises me that they do no medical intervention at the Brownsville shelter, and says he's dispatching an officer to come show us the way to the shelter.
"Is it a kill shelter?" I ask him.
"Yes, Ma'am, he admits.
That's not an option. He's a black dog, with a wound on his back, sores on his left leg which he is favoring, and full of fleas. "Thanks for your help, Sir. But there's no need to send anyone. I won't be taking him there."
That's when the thought of Petsmart jumps into my brain. Maybe we can get him groomed there! And rescue groups adopt their animals out through Petsmart on some week ends! We head towards Petsmart after locating it on Tom's GPS phone.
Maddie is none to pleased with this entire driving and rescue venture. After all, "what is this dog doing in the front seat while I'm in the back?" is exactly what her disgusted look says.
I charge into Petsmart while Tom waits outside with the pup. We luck out. Both PAWS and the Brownsville SPCA are adopting their animals out that day! Petsmart won't groom him without knowing his vaccination history. There is no vet there to give him a Rabies vaccination. A woman from PAWS tells me they can't take him. But she calls a groomer 2 miles away for us and tells him we are bringing the dog for grooming and a flea dip.
I speak with the SPCA folks about taking him. "We have no available foster homes," Sibyl says. But before I leave for the groomer, she relents & says they'll figure something out. God bless them!
As we walk into the groomer, the pup stiffens and won't walk in the door. I'm not sure this sweet pup has ever been inside of any building. I know he's frightened. They offer him water and food -- he touches none of it, that's how stressed he is. I hate leaving him there in a kennel, but they promise to groom him next. We are starving and go grab a quick bite to eat.
When we pick up our little boy he comes out smelling so much better, but not quite as sure about trusting us after his grooming ordeal. "It's as bad a case of the fleas as I've seen," says the girl who groomed him.
Back to Petsmart we go, and just in time. Tom names the little fellow "Markie" and we watch as a woman, Ethyl, an SPCA volunteer and her 2 teen children drive off with Markie in their truck to foster on their 14 acres in the country, along with their other foster dogs that didn't get adopted.
Our deal with BSPCA is that if "Markie" is not adopted by the time we leave Texas at the end of February, we'll transport him back to a CO rescue group to adopt out. Right now I'm in the process of talking with Safe Harbor Lab Rescue and hope they will take him in ...
Who saved who that day? Markie saved me as much as we saved him. It is in these moments that we become truly alive. Thank you, little friend.
Stay tuned to learn Markie's fate ...
Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life A Story of Love
2009 Indie Book Awards Finalist
DWAA 2008 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award Finalist