It has been a while since I have been on a Rez run with my friend, Sheri. That changed with an unexpected little jaunt to the reservations on Monday. I just want to warn you that this is not pretty, it has rare moments of black humor and back to sad again. The whole day we kept talking about what I should put in my blog and how this is going to be in two parts because it was a very long day. This is also a longer than normal post for me. There is a part two and I’ll post that another day.
Sheri keeps most of the adult dogs at her home when they come into our rescue. We had two adult dogs that were not doing well nor had been for quite sometime. On Monday, Sheri announced she was going to Hardin to take in two adult dogs to be put down. I had a bad feeling about the day and didn’t want her to take these dogs to be put down alone. As luck would have it, I called her just as she was pulling out of her driveway. I asked her to come get me so I could go with her. She told me, “You don’t want to go, Bern. This is going not to be a fun day. I’m going to be gone all day.” I assured her that I wanted to be her wing woman and to come grab my happy butt. As I was getting ready to leave I yelled to Mr. Bernie, “Hey, do we have a nice shovel I can take with me when we go out to the Rez?” Without missing a beat or questioning, he replied, “Uh, ya there is one in the back of the garage. Grab the one with the square head that is a better digger. Do you need gloves?” See why I love this man? Most people would say, “Honey, you are going for a ride with your friend in the middle of nowhere and you want a shovel? Why?” Not my husband, he tells me which shovel to grab and offers gloves.
Sheri arrived to pick me up and I put my shovel in the back of of her vehicle, next to her shovel. That made us both laugh pretty hard. Two gals heading out with two shovels in the back of their vehicle. Nothing screams fun like that! We stopped to get supplies and sustenance for the trip, cigarettes and soda. The ride to Hardin was not our usually chatty rides. She told me how bad she felt for both of these dogs and how no matter what we did for them they did not get better. It was not fair to them and these decisions suck. I must admit I admire her for how many months she worked to try to fix them. We passed a hay truck and she yelled, “Hay, Bern!” That made us giggle a little.
When we arrived at the vets office we both head heavy hearts. This is the part of rescue that really hurts and really sucks. We had to wait while the vet docked the tail of a weeks old Aussie. Sheri has no problem with giving shots, watching surgeries and stuff like that. I can’t stand to see it. All that stuff grosses me out. When they had docked the tail, Sheri offered it up to me, literally, she grabbed it and put it close to me. Gag! It was time to do what we came to do. We brought the first dog in and I sat with her and petted her and told her what a good girl she was and how she wouldn’t hurt anymore. I must admit we both teared up a bit. The vet was gentle and she passed away. We brought in the second dog and she was petted and fussed over as well. Before we left the vet we ran to the back to see what dogs might not be picked up by their owners. That means we would be taking the home. Sheri handed me and adorable puppy to snuggle while the vet tech cleaned his cage. I held and snuggled him and loved him up. When I handed him back I realized he either had poop on him or he pooped on me. Either way we are off and running. Here is where the shovels come in. We wanted to give these girls a burial and we had hoped to find someplace out of the way in which to do that. Both girls were wrapped up and brought to the vehicle. We were pretty somber and didn’t say much as we drove away. We needed to find an out of a way spot to give these dogs a decent burial. We drove off in silence.
We drove around for a bit and noticed that there were a whole bunch of people all over picking up garbage and having controlled burns. We have never seen this many folks out during a week day, ever. We kept driving and getting a bit anxious as to where to bury these girls. People were everywhere, now what? So we just kept driving to our next stop, giving us time to think things through. The shovels are clanging every time we hit a bump. Our next stop was to pick up a Momma dog and her litter of puppies out from under a makeshift trailer. We found the puppies and sadly, one had passed away long ago. We loaded up these adorable babies, who all looked alike, and waited for Momma to show up. She must have been out looking for food and was very happy to come with us when we ponied up some food for her. As we pulled away Momma got LOUD! We called our foster home in Hardin, 25 minutes back the way we came to see if they wanted the Momma and babies. They did and they were home. So back the direction we just came from. We dropped off Momma and her babies at the foster home and were on the road again.
As we started heading back the way we came, Sheri mentioned something about dejavu while we were driving. We say more hay and more jokes. The shovels kept clanging and banging and we couldn’t find any place that wasn’t full of people. I suggested we stop by to say hello to my Patch’s Momma. We fostered her while Patch and his siblings were wee pups. When they were weaned we had to return her back to her home. However, not before we had her fixed. That was the deal we made with her people. When we pulled up there was no sign of Princess. While we were looking around this larger dog came running up to us grinning. No clue as to her breed. Sheri noticed she had just had puppies so we stopped at that house to talk to them. We asked if we could give the dog food, the woman agreed and told us she didn’t have any food for the dog. She is a nursing mother!! She needs nutrition! We gave the dog some food and decided to ask if we could take her and her pups to Billings to foster her and her, we were told four pups. We would have her spayed before we brought her back. The owner agreed and we told her we would be back later in the day to pick her up. Before we left we asked about Princess. The gal told us, “Oh, I think they took her somewhere to breed her.” Sheri and I just stared at her open mouthed, thanked her for her time and left to get into the truck before we started laughing. Princes was fixed, there is no way that dog is going to be able to breed. We think maybe the neighbor really didn’t know what she was talking about. Now we were up 2 Momma dogs and 10 puppies and it wasn’t even 11am yet!
Before we left town we realized there was no place to bury our dogs. We made a sad decision to leave them in a place that they would have ended up had we left them at the vet. That hurt both of our hearts but we ran out of options. We left in silence, each thinking our own thoughts and each shedding tears.
Time to hit the road again. We got to another reservation and saw the saddest, skinnest looking Momma you ever did see. It was heartbreaking. We gave her a huge pile of food and noticed across the street some puppies in a yard. We asked the neighbors if they thought the owners might want to re-home the puppies.He said he thought they did. Then we asked another person walking by if he knew the owners and he agreed that they would want the puppies gone. Sheri grabbed two of them and we were ready to leave when two more little heads popped out. The puppies were skinny little things and we packed them up as well. Poor Momma had to stay behind. As time goes on we are learning that many of the adults won’t get adopted. Sometimes one has to pick their battles. Now we were up to 2 adult dogs and 14 puppies. I told Sheri it was a good thing that we had removed the dead dogs from the car. How would that look, two dead dogs, two white girls and 2 shovels. “Do you want to get rid of your puppies? We can help you out with that.” That would go over so well. We drove up the road a bit to a house where people had given Sheri puppies before. About 9 dogs were just roaming the streets I doubt any of them were fixed or vaccinated. I poured out food for them to eat, which they attacked with a vengeance. Many were so skinny. The lady at the house gave Sheri two adorable black and white puppies. We got them loaded and before we left the lady handed me a puppy that looked half dead and wrapped in two smelly t-shirts. His eyes were rolling in the back of his head. He was barely breathing and my heart caught in my chest. She explained that he had 3 other brothers and sister who had died in the past day. That she thought he was quite wormy. Most puppies with worms have huge bellies, this little guy didn’t. The puppies were not hers and she was trying to save them. She knew he needed to be put down and could we take him someplace to have that done? They named him Mort-Mort.
We both had heavy hearts as I got into the truck with Mort-Mort. Healthy puppies screaming in the back and this little guy in my arms. He had no control of his bowels so the t-shirt got soaked. He smelled to high heaven and I had to keep my window rolled down. Sheri let out a huge sigh and told me she was glad I was with her today and she was pretty sure that would have pushed her over the edge. I rocked him gently and cooed to him quietly. Singing some random song to him in a soft voice. I looked down at this limp little guy and said softly, “Mort-Mort, you so were not in my plans today.” We drove on as I held the smelly, dying puppy. As we drove at times he would stick his legs out straight and scream. I started to tear up as I had no way to ease his suffering. All I could do was hold him tighter and coo to him. The stiffing up wasn’t so bad, it was the screaming as if he was in great pain. A few times we thought we lost him after his screaming and mini seizing. I was not looking forward to driving more than an hour with my new little charge against my chest. It made me angry that this could happen. It made me wonder how someone could let something like this happen. It made me wonder if we didn’t stop by how he would die. Would it be alone and not being held and loved on? More tears.
We arrived at our final destination for the Sheri and Bernie Rez Dog Tour. We drove up to the house where the Dane was last seen. It hurt my heart to put Mort-Mort on the seat as I left the truck briefly to see if I could see her. We had also left a bag of food for Mort-Mort’s person to use for her dogs and other dogs. We were out of food and out of room and it was time to pick up the Momma and babies and take Mort-Mort to the vet.
It was time to pick up our Momma and babies. When we pulled up Mort-Mort was stiffing up so Sheri went alone so I could hold him. She didn’t think to knock on the door and just dove under the trailer to find the babies. When Sheri was done the kids of the trailer came out. She asked if the Momma really had 4 puppies. The kids kept saying that she had and they would find the forth puppy. One little boy looked under the trailer and yelled, “I think its dead. Its got red stuff all over it.” He crawled back out and his big brother went back under and said the he thought it was dead too. So Sheri crawled under to get the puppy and the little girl with the boys said, “I think I saw it breathe!” It was as stiff as a board so Sheri turned it on its side back and forth and said, “I think its dead.” The little girl said, “I see a spider web under there. It was bit by a black widow.” You can imagine how that cheered Sheri up after having crawled under the trailer. The Momma came up to see what was going on and we asked the kids her name. They told us, Roxy. They wanted to know where we were taking her. We explained that we talked to their Mom and she was going to Billings for two or three weeks. The kids were ok with that. They told us that we did the same thing with their dog, Skunk. Skunk was a Momma and babies we had the same deal with . Well yippee! Its like the family plan. How special is that? Before we left we moved puppies around to different crates.
As we got to town we thought we would have some ice cream to end this day. Thankfully, the vet was able to see us right away. He tugged on Mort-Mort’s skin and said he was extremely dehydrated. We told him what the puppy had been doing during the car ride and he gave a long sigh. He said that he couldn’t be sure but it might be distemper. Sheri and I both gasped and sucked up all of the oxygen in the room. We argued that he didn’t have a snotty nose or runny eyes. How could it be distemper? The vet said that sometimes it just happens neurologically first. Distemper is something we dealt with before. We lost many dogs and puppies to that disease. It’s airborne so it can’t live in the ground like Parvo. It can kill puppies or dogs in a short time. That being said he put Mort-Mort down. The vet told us that we must vaccinate each dog as soon as we got to Sheri’s. Sheri asked about our little 14 day old puppies and he said that they get a 1/2 dose each. Then in two weeks everyone else gets vaccinated again. We both felt as if we can’t go through this again. Our only saving grace was the dogs being in crates and keeping the windows open as we drove. He had very shallow breathing so it wasn’t as if he was gasping and breathing all over. We both said goodbye to Mort-Mort and just looked at each other in shock and all we could say was “Oh, my God. Not again!” It was then that we remembered we moved puppies around into different crates. We didn’t stop for ice cream.
There is more to this but I’ll stop for now. I’ll share part two with you at a later date. We currently have a GoFund Me page for Rez Dog Rescue. April was a month that had two puppies who had to have their legs amputated.