19 January 2008

Come In From The Cold

The high temperature today was -5 F. That's without wind chill. It's been crazy cold for the past few days, and we don't expect things to warm up until after Monday.

Hopes are high that the Packers will easily defeat the New York Giants tomorrow on "the frozen tundra," since most people (even football players) become instantly numb outdoors in Wisconsin at this time of year.

Chef Jeff made sure the goats and chickens were prepared for the low temps this week with heat lamps and an extra layer of dry bedding.

The dogs don't even want to go out to their playpen for their daily games; they step outside to relieve themselves and almost immediately start doing "lizard legs," standing on three feet with one frozen paw stuck up in the air, then putting that one down and lifting another. They quickly hobble back inside and hop onto the futon. Emma barks at us to come and cover her with an afghan.

It's hard to imagine being in a foreign land on a day like this. Even with a relatively warm coat, how would you fare if you suddenly found yourself in a strange place, unable to speak the language, without any food or water, in frigid temps?

What if you were ill, and in terrible pain?

What would you do?

Boris sat by the side of the road where he was abandoned, and he waited. I happened to see him (who knows how long he'd been there?) and immediately grabbed dog cookies and a leash, threw on a parka, and was out the door to investigate.

Boris had the trusting, patient look of a "dumped" dog, watching for the car that left him to return - because a dog's heart, full of unconditional love, can't imagine that the only master he's ever known won't be coming back.

Boris was a bit wary of me, but being a sweet boy (not to mention exceedingly cold, tired, and hungry), he let me approach him. He cringed and crouched as my hand went up to pet him. He was wearing a collar - one that he'd obviously outgrown ages ago, and without any tags - so I was able to get a leash clipped to it.

I got him up to my dogs' playpen, brought him some food and water, and then brought my dogs out to meet him, one at a time and very quickly, to determine whether they would get along. It was just too cold to leave him in the pen, and the goat barn was not an option with our buck Dexter in the extra section.

Tails wagged as the dogs met through the fence. Boris was friendly. I set up a baby gate in the kitchen doorway, and Boris was brought indoors.

He moved so slowly. All he wanted to do was sleep. When he awoke, he could hardly stand. He looked arthritic, and though his tail wagged, it was obvious he was in a lot of pain. And he had to urinate so frequently...

The following day, Boris was taken to the vet. It was discovered that he has Lyme disease, another tick-borne illness, and a massive UTI. He was prescribed antibiotics, and he received his rabies and other vaccinations. He also got an injection of pain medication. We were told he wasn't aged, but actually just an overgrown puppy!

The day after that, it was obvious that Boris was feeling much better. He had apparently never had toys or chews before, but the other dogs taught him what to do with them. One dog was let into the kitchen with Boris at a time, so that they could establish their relationships in a controlled manner. This will continue for a number of weeks until Boris is neutered and housetrained. So far, Valentine is his best buddy.

We live in a remote area and are not served by our county humane society (in that we cannot take strays there, though we may adopt animals from them). In this area of the state, I'm sad to say that people seem less educated about caring for dogs than other places I've lived. They let them run loose and seem surprised if they get hit by cars. They take them out hunting without proper recall training. They don't spay and neuter. They think it's ok to let them live outside in uninsulated dog houses in sub-zero temperatures. Puppy mills and animal swap meets abound, and even the "wholesome" Amish breed "decorator dogs" indiscriminately, to sell to the "English" from their farms.

Some people are even so uneducated that they think a dog left on the side of a road, in January, with temperatures in the single digits, can fend for itself if there's a farm within sight. They think this is better than taking the unwanted dog to a vet or humane society to be painlessly euthanized. It's cheaper than taking out an ad in the paper to find a new home for it.

But, like a dog who has never been hit by a car so doesn't know the danger until it's too late, a dog doesn't know that there may be food and shelter at a farm. So he waits, and waits, and waits, by the side of the road...

Some people get a puppy on impulse, and then, if the puppy seems unable to learn bladder control, they punish it, not thinking to have their vet run a quick urinalysis to see if there could be a problem (why, that would cost money.) They move the dog outside, and tie him to a dog house, where he spends cold, lonely, boring days and nights. The people don't replace the puppy collar because the growing dog is now out of sight and out of mind. And when the untrained puppy becomes too much of a bother, they...

I don't know. I don't understand. I can't even imagine how someone comes to take that next unspeakable step. I try to have compassion for them, to pity their ignorance or the abuse they themselves must have suffered... but for the life of me, I just can't get inside that mindset. I cannot wrap my mind around that.

All I know is...

I'm glad God knows where we live, and that he helped Boris find us.

He's a damn good dog.

He is NOT disposable.

As long as I can walk, and have money in the bank, and a roof over my head, and it's legal, no dog in need will be turned away from my doorstep.

But if you're thinking of dumping an animal here, can you do us all a favor, and just knock? Bear this in mind - I'm not a normal farmer. Most farmers in this part of the country, upon seeing a strange dog next to their sheep pasture, would get out their gun instead of the dog cookies. So make sure you have the right address, if you're going to dump a dog.

And be damn sure God doesn't know where you live.


quiltparalegal said...

All I can say, is thank heavens Boris found you!

Tasha(I was also deserted and then found by a family who chained me to a post for 3 weeks before they turned me over to the Humane Society because I dug holes in their lawn - I was just bored and my prong collar was digging into my neck - I love my new home and owner, Sue, though.....)

Nanette said...

Oh I'm so glad you found Boris and then got him pain meds. Please give him a kiss from me!

Pamela said...

Boris couldn't have found a more loving home than yours if he'd tried every house in the world.

Say said...

I'm so glad you found Boris and were able to offer him a home. What a sweet looking dog!

claudia said...

Thanks for being so awesome. Give Boris a pet from me.

Sydney said...

Apparently the same thing happens around here. People will take their dogs out in the country and dump them.

jessie said...

We are similar-minded softies and you know you did the right thing. I can't bear to think about the animals that are outside, hungry, abandoned, in this weather and I know there are plenty out there. We rescued both our cats and both our dogs, though only the poodle (a puppy-mill breeder in a cage in a garage for 5-8 years) was really bad off. Every time I take a picture of her snoozing on my husband's chest, I think of what her life must have been like before. Ugh.

Our other dog had Lyme disease last Christmas and he could barely move for days, even after the medications. I hope Boris has a speedy and full recovery and a wonderful life from here on in.

Now to get some Kleenex.

Nancy said...

Boris is one lucky dog. Hope he recovers quickly and happily. Blessings and good wishes to you and Jeff for coming to his rescue!

Patty said...

OMG - You are an angel and Boris is so fortunate! Wow. Sorry 'bout those Packers, holy smokes those guys looked cold! Could you root for the Pat's now? ;-)

Meira said...

Oh, I hear you, sister. I volunteer with my city's animal shelter -- a shelter that HAS to accept every animal that comes in -- and they are 97% sweet pit-bull mixes, destined to sit in a pen in a building that wreaks of death, until their turn comes up. And the idea that anyone is breeding dogs makes me want to strangle someone. And then there are the cats, sick in a back room and no money or resources to help them. There's about 300 volunteers who take animals home and try to heal them, find them forever homes, but the tide never slows. We each have a foster dog or two and a litter of foster kittens, and maybe a foster rabbit, but the tide never slows.

I try to take solace in the animals we *have* helped, and not focus on the ones I just don't have the resources for. But it's heart-wrenching.

I'm so, so happy for Boris.

Yellow Dog Knitting said...

Yeah, for Boris!!! Dodger had Lymes when he was just a pup also. I think you are going to have to build a bigger house!!!



Kary said...


jg said...

Snickers sends a bundle of Shiba kisses for you!

Janet said...

I had a dog named Boris a loooong time ago; I'm glad this Boris found you :-)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful ending to a horrible story for poor Boris. I can't imagine people who just leave animals. It makes me want to slap them silly....sorry but it does. How can people BE so cruel and thoughtless?

But Boris found you or maybe you found Boris and he didn't run from you and your dogs got along with him and you are a wonderful person.

Janet - comment above - pointed me to this story - it's my first time here and my blog is under construction but I will come back with my URL and to read more soon

Candice said...

I'm sooo happy for Boris, God bless you! I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and people will leave litters outside of the Humane Society, in a cardboard box, in winter, to be found by the staff the next morning. I guess even those people are giving them half a chance. It's very hard to think about what some pets suffer, and warms my heart so much to hear stories of people who rescue abandoned/stray animals.