Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Throw-Away Dogs: The Skeletons in Our Gullies

"Mahoney" learning that not all humans are ugly.
 Mary’s voice was strained. “Someone dumped nine puppies up on Mahoney Gully Road. Two were hit in the road. Ray and I managed to catch five, and Heidi caught another, which she is keeping. We think there’s one more hiding in a culvert.”

My heart twisted. Two dead. How long had they been out there? What kind of person . . . I had a flashback of the carcasses two dead dogs I had found in Heseltine Gully when I was hunting up rocks for my garden pool. The ear of one of them had twitched—but the dog had been dead for weeks. It was seething with feasting maggots. The hauntingly beautiful gullies here in western New York, are with decked with cascades of white trillium and other woodland flowers, birdsong, and sadly—trash. People dump old refrigerators, household garbage, and sometimes fluffy, toddling puppies.

“I’ll help you look,” I said.

As we drove slowly up the winding, seasonal road, which reminded me of my summer with the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky, we were dreading the sight of the dead pups. “We should move them,” I said. But thankfully, someone had done that—or perhaps coyotes had already dragged them off.

We rounded a bend and saw a black puppy scuttle into the ditch. I pulled over and parked on the narrow verge. The bank fell away steeply in a dense growth of hemlock, yellow birch, and maple. The puppy growled in terror as we approached. I crouched in the wet ditch—we’ve had a lot of rain—and opened a can of dog food. The little creature stared at me, still growling valiantly. Carefully I held out a handful of dog food. The pup backed further into the culvert. I dropped a few chunks and withdrew my hand. Instantly, the pup leaned forward and snapped up the food.

By this time, Mary had silently taken a place above the culvert. I dropped some more food a few inches ahead of the little muzzle. The pup wriggled after it. Another bit of food. Another wriggle forward. Slowly, I coaxed the pup toward the opening of the pipe, while Mary eased her hand down. At last, she was able to grab the puppy’s scruff and pin her well enough so that I could also get hold. The little dog braced its feet and resisted for all it was worth, but finally, I was able to drag it out—a little female with white freckled forepaws and soft eyes. She didn’t growl now or make the least offer to bite.

The puppy and I were equally wet and muddy, so Mary drove my car back to her house. Even though the pup smelled as if she’d been raised in a barn, I couldn’t help nuzzling her. She responded by wagging her tail. I knew I couldn’t adopt her—I’m already at my limit of pets—but Oh, I wanted to. Her ears perked when she saw her litter mates on Mary's deck, and she trotted happily to a greeting of licks and wags.

I gazed at the six baby dogs. They were shy—nothing a day or two of love and attention wouldn’t cure. They were beautiful, each with the potential for a decade or more of devotion to the right human. A challenge to place, but do-able. It would have been better to spay and neuter the parents. I’m pretty sure that the “human” who thinks they can’t afford to spay or neuter a dog or cat somehow manages to find the money for beer, cigarettes, lotto tickets, potato chips, and soft drinks.

Mary and Ray took the puppies to Jim Hoover for shots and worming. Then they will go to Joyful Rescue in Cuba, NY for placement. With luck, they will find deserving humans.

"Hidey" back with her litter mates

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand humans and how they could ever do this. What a beautiful dog. I would take him in a minute if I were closer.