Friday, December 5, 2008

Old vs. young

The van ride from Montreal to Toronto in the metal crate must've been hard on Abby's sore old bones. No one knows anything about the Rottie's past except that she was picked out from amongst dozens of other dogs and rescued from a pound in Quebec where she surely would have been euthanized being just another unwanted, unhealthy, old dog in a sea of others. Not that Abby's fate, upon arrival at Toronto Animal Services was all that secure either.

There's always the question of which one do you help. Do you help the young and healthy since they have the best chance at being adopted or do you help the old and ill because they are such sad cases? The dog rescue program at Toronto Animal Services operates under the philosophy that it's better to help the young and healthy because they are faster out the door allowing more to be brought in quicker and thus more can be helped over the long run. I believe the majority of rescues and shelters run, at least partially, on this philosophy and if we look at it purely as a numbers game, it makes sense.

So, with respect to the numbers, it was bad news that TAS ended up with a beat up old dog like Abby who would in all likelihood lie in a kennel for a few days or weeks and then be euthanized once her deterioration got to a point of no return.

What was likely to happen, though, didn't happen.

Helping the life of an abandoned dog, at least on a personal level, is never about just the numbers. It's not even logical. It's about compassion and empathy and a personal connection with the dog in question. Fortunately, for Abby, Emily has got plenty of all that.

Last week Emily adopted that crazy Lab who seems to have already settled into a calm routine at her new home. Now this week, after hearing about the Rottie in peril, Emily decided to give this old girl a home as well. What concerns anyone had about someone taking two dogs in as many weeks were quickly appeased by Emily explaining her living environment and her carefully thought out plans for the new family member. Vet appointments have already been made and bedding and equipment bought in anticipation of Abby's arrival. I don't think Abby could go into better hands.

I'm not sure what the official status of the transfer of Abby from TAS to Emily will be but unofficially, it's a compassion hold. We all hope for a turnaround in Abby's health but the diagnosis from the vet earlier in the week wasn't good - likely kidney failure - and without the Metacam that Abby got started on a few days ago, she's pretty well immobile. Life springs back in amazing ways, though, with some of these well worn dogs. It happened with my Rocky. It happened with Gudrun's Gretel. Both were older dogs whose spirits and health shriveled in the shelter kennels but sprouted again once they found a home.

In my case, with Rocky, I've never regretted the decision to bring him home but I sometimes wonder what it would've been like if I hadn't and didn't have to deal with Rocky's reactivity towards other dogs. Would I have been able to foster more dogs? Would I have had more time to spend with the dogs at TAS? Would I have been able to help Kiki or this one or this one?

Do we make a fair decision when we choose which dog to rescue? Is it fair that some younger, healthier dog (or two or three) got passed over so that Abby could be saved? I don't think so. It's not fair. None of this fair. But rescue isn't about the kind of fairness dictated by numbers and logic. Rescue is about doing the best you can. And for Abby, this means that at the end of her hard life, she will finally have found someone to care for her, to love her, to weep for her and to remember her. That's what rescue is about.

Thanks to Johanne, James, Joanne and of course Emily for getting Abby home.


Emily said...

Thank you so much for this entry - I can't wait for my father to read it. I was speaking to him last night and was trying to find a way to explain why people rescue and foster the often deemd 'undesirables' and this summed it up perfectly. I can't wait for my girl, Abby, to come home - we're all ready for her and so his her comfy bed in front of the Christmas tree, may it be a very Happy Holiday for her.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Emily, Its people like you that inspire me and give me hope.
I can't wait for updates on Abby, and May all good things come to you and your family over the holidays and New year. Karma is on your side

Thank you


Lynda said...

Good luck with Abby, Emily. We're so lucky to have someone like you on this earth.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to hear.
Congrats to all.
I see 2 glowing smiles in that picture above.

Anonymous said...

Abby is at the vets right now. She is having x-rays, blood work, vaccines and, thank god, a bath. The vet says she is a simply lovely girl. She thinks she may be, from her teeth, no older than two or three. She behaved wonderfully at the vets. She is quite the dainty and picky eater. She gobbled the Marronbones and turned down the vet's health cookies. Can't say as I blame her..I tried them once...yuck. We are picking her up later this afternoon and will have more to report then.

Fred said...

2 or 3? Abby's getting younger by the day. Pretty soon she'll be just a puppy. Hopefully, her health improves as well as her age.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god look at that smile on both their faces. Love it. Totally makes my day


Anonymous said...

Update on Abby. SHE HAD A BATH!!!!!!!! There is a somewhat shiny coat under all that dirt and she smells great. Apparently she wasn't crazy about being brushed but that is not surprising as it has probably never happened to her.

The vet couldn't get a good x-ray to look at her lungs and mammary glands without sedating her so she will have to go back. A biopsy was done on the lumps on her nipples which were fluid filled. The results will be in Monday along with her blood work. The vet said that they have had some good success with operations to remove mammary lumps. So, if that is the case, that is the course of action we will take with Abby.

She has a heart murmur, the severity of which we don’t yet know. She is also very underweight and can eat however much she wants….I am envious!!!! Not sure if she is spayed or not, we think not, so that will be taken care of and her dewclaws that drag and clack on the ground so badly will be removed at that time. I think that is about it on the medical side of things for now. Will have more to report on that on Monday or Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed for this little girl.

There are some very strange things about Abby. She is a lovely dog. The vet was very impressed with her temperament. Abby knows how to shake a paw and then the other one. When I told her to be “gentle” with the cookie, she took it with the tips of her teeth. She knows to sit and lay down although they are a bit difficult for her. She travels very well in the car. BUT, this I will say, Boy has she brightened up. She took off with Emily this morning at an almost run down the sidewalk. And all she wants to do is cuddle Emily. She flops down and rolls on her back for a tummy rub. That is a vulnerable position for any dog but she seems to have no problem with it. I really, really like that dog. She is just a kind-hearted soul who life just kicked a little too hard. I hope that Emily and I can make up for whatever happened to her. Personally, I am willing go the distance with her and to do whatever I can for her. I wish I could do it for every last one of them.

Update on Monday everyone.

Fred said...

Fingers are crossed for Monday's result.

How are all the dogs getting along at Emily's?

House of the Discarded said...

I'm just coming up for air after having some company for the past 4 days. I'm SO happy for Emily and Abby! What a wonderful buzz... who needs drugs when you can rescue a dog like Abby?

Congratulations to all who helped her.