Last week I received a call from an animal shelter that knows our family has a special fondness for Golden Retrievers. The message was urgent recanting, “They will put her down as early as tomorrow if a home is not found.” The animal shelter was unable to help this dog because it is city operated and the dog lived outside their limits. I made a few phone calls and through a three day ordeal in which the dog had been reported to have “run away from home”, I was finally allowed to pick her up on Saturday.
I was surprised as I turned onto the family’s property to realize that this was not a case of ignorance – these were well educated and wealthy people. They told me how a neighbor had purchased the dog as a puppy but eventually after continually visiting their home was given to them. At just fourteen months old, she’d become more than they could bear because of her unyielding desire to jump in the pond and chase ducks. Because the dog would not stop doing the very thing she’d been bred to do, she’d been sentenced to death.
As my husband and I climbed in the truck to leave with her, the owner mentioned her coat was matted and that she might have been shot in her hind leg.
Upon leaving with her, my heart was instantly broken. To realize the extent of love and devotion she had for this family who considered her nothing more than a stupid animal unworthy of love, caught me off guard. Her reaction to leaving home is something I’ll never forget – she whimpered and whined while watching her home vanish from view and attempted clawing her way out of the back of my SUV. We drove with her a couple of miles before stopping and putting her in the front seat with me. It was another thirty minutes before she stopped whimpering.
Once we arrived at our home, we were still not able to survey the full extent of her injuries. Her fur was matted so closely to her skin, she was unable to fully extend her legs.
For the next three hours, my husband, daughter, and I tried to cut out the dog’s mats. It was obvious the amount of discomfort she was in from her fur pulling against her flesh, but she was so overjoyed by the attention she was receiving, she not once tried to pull away from us as we worked. When we paused for a break, she showered my daughter with gratitude (and slobber).
When we realized that we weren’t getting anywhere, I called a friend who’s a groomer. She agreed to meet Sunday afternoon to work on her. She had to completely shave her to remove the mats.
Right now this sweet girl’s future is uncertain. I’m not sure if the condition of her hips is from having gone so long with them matted to the extent they were or that they caused her bones to form misshapen. (She still has 10 months worth of growing to do.) Or it could be that she was actually shot or hit by a car or that she’s a victim of poor breeding. For now we have been advised to watch her closely and pray that her limited mobility is from the mats. Once she has learned to walk free of them, hopefully these issues will resolve on their own. One thing is certain – she will be loved the rest of her life. And she will never be neglected again. We will continue fostering her until the extent of damage is determined and she will only be re-homed in the case that we should find someone who will love her as much as we already do. Until then.. welcome to the family, Calypso.