Tuesday, July 10, 2012

From Hoarded to Hope: Buddy

Buddy has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. He is the greatest canine love of my life.

I've had other rescues. There was Elvis, followed by Miss Piggy, then Rex (who required special care due to renal disease). After Rex's passing, I found Sampson, an affable tank. In between all of them have been fosters; at one time our house had 5 dogs and 4 cats.

All were special.

But there was something about Buddy.

Buddy came from a hoarder’s property. This hoarder, an older woman, living in a dilapidated house. She appeared to at least have electricity and plumbing. The refrigerator in the kitchen -- only the freezer portion was working -- contained just a few items: some medication and two pounds of raw hamburger, but no stove to cook it with. In the middle of the living room there was a another refrigerator -- inoperable -- along with two crated dogs who had no food or water. The flooring had been destroyed down to the cement, and the walls were coated with a brown scum extending at least two feet up from the floor.

At one time the property had over 250 dogs: some kenneled, some crated, many running wild, several pregnant… and most were sick. It was obvious many of the dogs were from the same litters, spanning generations. They didn’t appear socialized; they might accept food or treats, but then ran and hid. There were dirt dens, and some kennels were only five feet long and two feet wide.

The neglect of these animals had apparently been going on for years, but even worse was that the property was located in the desert of California where it was hot enough to melt the glue from our shoes. The level of noise itself almost required ear plugs. Even in the open outdoors, the smell of feces and urine was overwhelming. In the weeks prior to my arrival several other volunteers had come down with giardia.

In all this chaos, Buddy stood out. He was a shaggy mess in a sea of shepherd and lab mixes.

He moved slowly in his kennel. No barking, no jumping, nor did he run and hide.

I went in as part of a grassroots rescue, for several weekends we cleaned, fed, watered and did basic medical for the dogs. We were slowly transporting them out as the rescue community could take them in. Those that were extremely sick were taken out right away.

Buddy's hair was probably 6 inches long – so long I couldn't see through to his eyes. He kept his head down and once he caught my scent he walked sluggishly over to me. I squatted down, my body pointing away so that I posed no threat – and I slowly reached out to him. His tail wagged – barely – and he nudged closer.

Finally I moved the hair away from his eyes. They were closed. Did he even have eyes? I couldn't tell. I stayed a few minutes with him, then moved on. There were 200 more dogs that needed food and water.

A few hours later I found my way back to him. He came over to me in the same way and I petted and rubbed him gently.

My friend Kim came over – I told her I wasn't sure if this old guy even had eyes. She looked at me worried, cocked her head and said, "I'll give you a thousand dollars to take that dog."

Um, what?

She repeated herself.

Crap. It wasn't the money, I was already in love with him.

There was something about him that made my heart swell, skip a beat, go pitter-patter. Pick one or choose all.

I called my husband, another great gift in my life. His response? 

"Whatever you want, my sweet."

I'm lucky.

So Buddy was loaded in a crate and into my life.

The groomers bathed and shaved him. The vet pulled most of this rotted teeth out, and his blood levels were great . He wasn't suffering from malnutrition, giardia, mange or any tick-borne illnesses – all of which plagued many of the dogs that had already been pulled.

Still, he was mostly blind, partially deaf, very thin, and not even house-broken.

But he is perfect in so many other ways.
He has never barked or growled; he will just "purr" when you pet him. He'll get the zoomies about twice a week till he falls over. He rubs up against me like a cat and then falls into my lap.

I have to carry him in and out of the house and keep him crated at night to avoid late night accidents. He loves his breakfast, dinner, and evening Kong filled with peanut butter.

Buddy is a lot of work, but to me this 15-year-old ragamuffin is worth every bit of extra care, and is worth far more than a thousand dollars. He is priceless and he makes my heart sing.

Tomorrow, Buddy will cross the Rainbow Bridge, this has not an easy decision. But we can no longer help him, he will not get better. So tomorrow we will let him go, with dignity, grace and our love.

Note:  The property Buddy came from appeared on an episode of Animal Planet:  Confessions Animal Hoarding.  You can watch that clip here
Buddy was adopted by Ida during the grassroots effort, a few months prior to the HSUS arrival.
This story also appeared in Ohmidog, you can read it here

If you have a story of an animal you adopted or rescued from a hoarder we'd love to hear from you.  Please send your story to us at:  endhoarding@yahoo.com

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