It’s been ten days since I pulled her from Roswell Animal Control . . . I named her, Mariah, after the wind.
The first two days she barely ate or drank, and would not willingly leave her crate. Even when I removed her from the crate to change the bedding, she would just stand . . . I began to wonder if she could walk, and was also questioning my own expertise about dogs . . . maybe the animal control officer was correct when he referred to her as “feral”. But as soon as those thoughts crept in, they dissipated just as quickly when I looked into her eyes. She made direct eye contact with me, each time, and never flinched when I reached for her. She wasn’t trying to be invisible, like most feral animals will do, and she watched every move I made around her, not with fear, but with a quiet curiosity . . . as if she were assessing and learning.
Whenever I bring in a new rescue, I like to let them adjust at their own pace. With most, it takes about 3 days, rarely longer. Mariah was different . . . so I decided to gently “push” the issue. I began leaving her food, kibble with sauteed sirloin and oatmeal cooked with chicken broth, just outside her crate so she would have to leave it to eat. It seemed to be working. So I began to physically move her to different parts of the barn, away from the “security” of her crate. She would eventually find her way back to the crate . . . it was clear that was where she felt the safest.
The other day, I closed the crate door so she couldn’t go right back in and left her loose in the barn. She knew she couldn’t get back in her crate, but showed no panic. When I came back into the barn, she walked right up to me, instead of running away as one would expect from an unsocialized or feral dog.
She had been coughing and already had an appointment scheduled with the vet for yesterday. So I put her in the front seat of the truck and gave her the option of sitting where she chose. Halfway to the vet, she walked over to sit next to me, looked up at me and whined several times. From the day I got her, she had never made a sound, until then. That was when I knew her story.
From all I’ve learned from dogs, they do not just simply walk away from a home where they are loved, and not return. Most of the impounded dogs listed as “strays” were actually taken by the owner and dumped somewhere far enough so that the dog cannot find the way home safely. And they remember that car ride. Mariah certainly did.
I choked back a tear as I thought of how alone she must have felt as she watched her owner drive away, how exhausted she must have been to drop to the ground (after being pursued for days) and try to make herself invisible in the dried grasses, and then the ultimate trauma to be finally “snared.” For 10 days she had been home with me, and now it seemed like “deja vu” to her . . . once again that dreaded ride to abandonment. . . so she thought as she trembled.
I put my harm around her, hugged her and told her she would never be left behind again.
She is on antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection . . . stress just makes every living being so much more susceptible to illnesses. Mariah is just a baby . . . barely 7 months old . . . with a heart of gold. Patches seems to have taken a liking to her. He approaches her very kindly, as if he understands that she needs a little time. So she may have a good buddy in him to help her.
As they say, “still waters run deep” . . . there is an incredibly awesome butterfly being nurtured in that shell. She’s a soul I recognize, and I am patiently waiting . . . she will eventually feel secure enough to fly in all her glory.