Our first Rescue Tale come from rescuer Johnny who is associated with Collie Rescues of Carolinas. Thanks Johnny for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with my friends and readers here at FTLTD!


Do Dogs Have Guardian Angels?

John Travis-TuffIn early November, I noticed a skinny stray dog hanging around near an on ramp,  a medium-sized Beagle mix. The truckers who waited for the rest of their convoy coming from plant had been tossing him scraps, and a few concerned people who had also noticed him had been tossing food in an attempt to lure him to them, all to no avail. He was too skittish to be approached.

I took a 55-gallon barrel and some bedding, along with a daily delivery of dry food and clean water. He was living in the wooded, triangle-shaped area between the on and off ramps. As he became accustomed to my visits, he began to wait until I entered the tree line, and slip up behind me, watching from a distance and wagging his tail, but still waiting until I stepped away from his food before coming in for a taste. Over a week, he would eat with me sitting there, and was never food aggressive so I knew that he had potential… if I could just get him into the truck and off that highway.

I gradually won his trust, and he’d approach me and let me touch him while he ate, wary, but willingly, if slowly. I had almost gotten him to enter the pickup on a couple occasions but when I closed the door he went ballistic and I let him go for fear that he’d hurt himself trying to escape. A woman who worked at my credit union two exits further north told me that if I could catch him, she would take him to a family who were willing to give him a home.

One Thursday morning, he didn’t show up for our visit. None of the truckers had seen him. I went back that afternoon to try and find him. His food and water were untouched. I scouted the highway to see if he had been killed, but found no sign of him. Three trips the next day, and still no sign of him. I decided that if he hadn’t shown up by Saturday at noon, I’d go to the county shelter to see if he’d been picked up, and to let them know that he had people who wanted him so they wouldn’t kill him. The local shelter had a policy that obviously abandoned strays went to the front of the line.

He wasn’t there but a small, frightened male Collie was. A handsome, black Tricolor that had been tied to the door at the Humane Society’s front door. From his appearance, he had been stray for a time, and it was likely that someone had gotten a leash on him and brought him the the the shelter in the mistaken belief that they’d immediately take him in. They have very limited space there and because he was extremely fear aggressive, and wouldn’t let anybody approach him. They called an animal control officer to come and take him so that they could get into the building. As it turns out, I’d known the responding officer in the past, Ronnie, but hadn’t seen him for many years.

When I asked about the collie, the staff at the shelter told me that he hadn’t been there long, and was scheduled to take the last walk on Monday morning. He had been judged to be unadoptable because he’d tried to bite everybody who approached him. Vicious, they said. I knew that he was just scared to death, and asked them if I could have him if I could show that he wouldn’t bite. I asked them to let me in the cage with him which they initially refused, but when Ronnie discovered who was interested, knowing that I’d worked with dogs in the past, he convinced them to give me a shot. Kelie and I signed a release form, and in we went.

Kelie sat on the floor and called to him motioning for him to come to her. I knelt on one knee and kept a distance, as he seemed to be more comfortable with her. Slowly he responded. It took him 5 minutes to cross the 10-foot distance to her as he kept a wary eye on me. Head and tail down, wagging in that fearful, hopeful way that abused tails wag, he came, one painful step at a time. He let me stroke him lightly, but flinched at my touch, focused on Kelie. When he got close enough for her to get her fingers into his mane he fairly collapsed onto her lap, whimpering like a puppy. I moved in, and he responded to me in the same way. He found somebody that he could trust.

Everybody on staff had come to watch this little drama, and were all mystified by his reactions. The director was called at home and even he was incredulous. He came down to the shelter to see for himself.

A deal was struck. If one of us would come and spend time with him every day for a week without being bitten or threatened, we could have him. By Tuesday, he was waiting for me to show up at noon, opening time. He knew when I’d be there, and always greeted me with tail wagging furiously.  On the following Monday he came home with us.

He was still wary when approached, sinking toward the floor, and rolling onto his back, forefeet in front of his face, and eyes darting back and forth nervously. He would only approach Kelie, and only slowly, head and tail down. It took 6 months for him to finally approach any of us without rolling onto his back and begging not to be abused and to this day, he still approaches with his head and tail down, at least everybody except me. He’s become my dog, and follows my every step, and if he wakes up and can’t find me he searches the house until he does.

He’s old and arthritic now. The vet estimates his age at 13-14 years, and he has trouble with steps so I carry him whenever I catch him trying to navigate them. I’ve got him on meds for his aching hips and wrists, and it helps him a lot but it’s still just a matter of time. He appears to have had a light stroke, is completely deaf and almost blind, but he never falters in his loyalty and determination to stay by my side. He’s here beside me as I type this up. I pray that he’ll go in his sleep, so I won’t have to take him for the last ride. I don’t know how I’d handle it but it won’t be good.  I’ll do what’s best for him, though, no matter how hard it is for me. I know that it won’t be long and I know that I’ll feel his absence for the rest of my life.

Do dogs have guardian angels? I think so. Tuff’s came in the form of a stray mutt that was never seen again.

The kicker is that the day the stray disappeared was the day that Ronnie brought Tuff into the shelter and the time on his journal was 0945 AM, right around the time that I normally showed up to feed him. He had done what he came to do which was to lead me to Tuff. Mission accomplished. He probably went back from whence he came. Rainbow Bridge for all I know. I do know that nobody has seen him since and several were looking for him.

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