Friday, September 11, 2009

RATTY

The dog stopped his plodding on the dirt road and whined at his predicament. The itching was more than he could ignore. Reluctantly, he raised his hind leg to dig at his shoulder. The digging changed his problem from one of intense itching to intense pain. His whine rose to a howl as the itching and pain swirled together in an agonizing frenzy. Blood oozed down his side, the trickle setting off more itching.

He looked down at his feet, his naked feet for there was no hair, just swollen, pink, bloody, skin. The hair had been gone for a while, only a few bristles remained. Each step caused the skin on the misshapen feet to crack and bleed. He licked his foot but that caused pain also, so he quit. Hunger and thirst fought toe to toe for his attention but pain always won.

He sank in the dust at the edge of the road, wincing as the soft dirt felt like sandpaper to his skin. The blazing sun burned his almost naked body but he was just too weak to go further. His head lay quiet in the dirt, his breath blew little puffs of dry dust as he thought back to happier times and wondered what he had done wrong. It must have been something really bad. Turkey Vultures watched with interest from high above. Supper was coming.

He remembered how happy he had been that day to go for a ride. The back of the pickup truck was a favorite place. It offered a wonderful mixture of exciting smells in the wind that lifted his ears and caressed his face. Dog would normally bound from side to side of the truck bed in excitement. He didn't that day for his feet hurt. His skin had been itching a lot lately but the thrill of the ride helped take his mind off it. After a very long time, the truck stopped and his two legged keeper lowered the tail gate and motioned for him to get out which was OK for he had to pee.

He searched briefly to find a suitable spot. His leg was hiked when the door slammed and the motor roared to life. He cut his stream short and went to jump back in the truck. The gate was now up and the truck drove quickly off in the opposite direction, throwing dirt in his face. Stunned for only a second, he barked and ran after the truck which slowly became a speck, then it disappeared. Totally confused, he returned back to where they had stopped and waited. It got dark and while he was hungry, he dare not move for fear that when Two Legs came back, he wouldn't find him. So he waited.

As the second dark approached, Dog thought that maybe Two Legs couldn't find him so he started down the road in the direction the truck had taken. He drank the ditch water to ease his thirst, but hunger was really gnawing at him. His nose tested the air for any trace of food.

Ditch water and the rare road kill kept him alive but each day his skin shrank closer on the now protruding bones and the itching had intensified mightily. Traffic was rare and the few vehicles sped by him unaware or uncaring. None belonged to Two Legs. He saw game but was too slow and unskilled to catch it. Each failed chase wore him down more.


As days passed, the constant heat eventually dried up the ditch water. The skies stayed clear and the sun boiling hot. He wasn't sure how many darks had passed, he lost count. Now here he was, lying in the dust, completely giving up. That was when I found him.

I thought he was dead till I saw a hind leg feebly attempting to scratch. I pulled over and went back to see if my eyes had played tricks. He was alive but was in deplorable shape. I wrapped him in a towel for his skin was seeping and he reeked. He was amazingly light for a medium sized dog. He did not resist nor help my efforts. He could care less what I was doing. Color and breed were not distinguishable.

Fortunately, veterinary medicine had come a long way since my dealings with Savage. He spent a week at the vets with IVs, worming, antibiotics, dippings and regular meals. When I picked him up, he was a different dog. His skin was still bare but it was whole and the red of the Demodectic (Red) Mange had faded to gray. Thank goodness for Mitaban which in those days removed the death sentence of Red Mange. He had put on a bit of weight and his almond eyes showed interest. He was still a ratty looking dog but I knew he had turned the corner. He had a long way to go yet , but he had cheated the buzzards.

I called him Ratty due to his appearance but told him that Ratty was short for Radcliffe so he wouldn't get a complex. Several months with diligent care, he morphed into a fine looking, sweet natured, red nose pitbull/cross.




Not my picture but looks just like Ratty.

He and Tim, the teenage boy who worked for me, instantly bonded when I brought him home. When Ratty recovered completely, Tim became his proud new owner. Tim's family moved out of state a year later and we lost contact, but I know Ratty had the best of homes. He was adored by a caring family.

Sadly Ratty's story is not unusual. Why people do not turn sick or unwanted dogs into the Humane Society or a no kill shelter, I will never understand. Dropping a dog off on the side of the road is the cruelest torture. Domestic dogs can not catch their food. They need a human with a gun or a couple of buddy dogs to catch food on the run. Even a wolf needs a pack. Domestic dogs use to kibble in a dish, have no clue.


Sadly not all dog stories end well. I am grateful this one did. Please support your Humane Society and local shelters. Thanks so much.

27 comments :

  1. Amen! AMEN. I had a brother who used to do that with dogs and cats his kids brought home.

    Somehow over the years he has changed, but my parents and I were horrified. Even Dad who disliked pets at least had them euthanized.

    I have been accused of caring more for pets than children..which is a misconception. We had no children because of a culmination of circumstances.

    Belatedly I came to appreciate society's tossaway animals instead of blue blood dogs. I consider this a growing process in myself.

    We would never have met the joy of Luckie, had I realized I, and most people I know, are all Heinz 57!!

    If I am still alive when Luckie goes to Rainbow Bridge (I have a lot of pets waiting for me), I'll have another of her companions from some rescue facility.

    Red Mange is a deadly curse which seems to attack strays. Horrible

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  2. How people can treat an animal that way is beyond me, how very sad. I'm glad your story had a happy ending and thank goodness for people like you.
    Sunny :)

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  3. Great story Patti! Where I used to live was a favorite drop off for unwanted animals, it's how I became involved with the Shelter because I was always having to take an animal there.

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  4. Really people who treat animals badly, probably treat people badly as well. It's heartrending to see pets left abandoned by the roadside. You are a great woman to rescue these animals.

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  5. Oh what a sad tale, and I fear an all too common one. My granddaughter is training to be a Cat Rescue kennel owner. She is studying at University three days a week and then in the local cat rescue place, and some of the tales and photo's of the abandoned kittens and cats is heartbreaking. Like you, I don't understand an owner who can just cruelly abandon a living thing in a strange place, to fend for itself.

    Love Granny

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  6. These are always such sad stories, Patti. HOW can people treat animals like that??? It's just so very very sad.

    Glad you saved Ratty --and glad he got a good home. There needs to be more Patti's in the world to go out and save those abaondoned animals.

    Praise God for YOU--and others like you.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  7. Thank God for you! I never ever could understand people abandoning pets like that.

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  8. Wonderful post Patti...There is a farm nearby that trains dogs for service...giving them a safe haven till adopted by someone in need.

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  9. Nitwit,
    No reason that loving animals excludes children. Pretty sure we can love both. Bless you for giving Luckie such a wonderful home. Wish more people would shelter shop for a pet. Thank you.

    Sunny,
    I know, I just don't understand either yet sometimes people who seem very kind in other matters, think nothing of dumping an animal.Thank you.

    Carol,
    Thank you for being the one to care where you used to live. People learn quickly where you live and the parade of unwanteds appear. I fear the people who bought my place wonder why all the animals keep showing up.

    Reader Wil,
    I am sure that is often true though my father who was a kind and gentle man, dumped my pet cat when I was a child. His father had done the same to him. Hoping to break the trend.

    Granny,
    Bless your granddaughter. As bad as dogs are treated, cats are treated worse here. They are unfortunately looked on as a disposable item. They can survive abandonment better than a dog as they are better hunters. However they are more quickly dumped. I think it is wonderful that there is a school to receive training. I wish her all the success in the world.

    Betsy,
    Due to age and reduced earnings, I have passed on the baton. Rescue work will never make you rich but the rewards are priceless. Thank you so much.

    Brighid,
    Honestly, me neither. There are so many services that will take the animal if not wanted anymore. I would respect a person more to destroy the animal rather than dumping them. The animals that survived in my area did so because they formed packs. However when they start taking down rancher's calves, the are hunted and destroyed. You can't blame the ranchers.

    Wanda,
    That is such a wonderful thing to do with dogs. I have also seen prison programs where inmates socalize problem dogs so that they can be adopted. A wonderful double edge sword there.

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  10. Thank you for visiting my Pick a Peck of Pixels blog and for commenting there on my post about Fountain Pens.

    Your post is wonderful today. Dogs. If I was not married to Patty for 54 years I would be married to a lot of dogs that long. Since I was born in 1934, I have had dogs -- sometimes two or three at one time. Since 2006, when our last Toy Fox Terrier died, we have not had a dog because Patty doesn't want us to have to go through that separation experience again. I can understand that but one of these days, and the good lord will show it the way, a stray dog will wander up here and this will be his home.

    Forever and ever.

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  11. The dumping of animals is a real problem in our area. Someone dumped a tiny kitten in front of our shop. My Mom took the kitten home. That weekend my granddaughters were here visiting and they were watching Winnie the Pooh. The named the kitten Pooh. This week my wife and I are taking care of Pooh while my folks are on vacation. This dumping story had a very hapy ending.

    An Arkies Musings

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  12. I almost could not read this it is such a Horrific story, and your description of Ratty's plight was just Heartbreaking! But, as you said, his story--because of you---turned out with a wonderfully positive ending.
    I will never understand the cruelty of people where Animals are concerned.

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  13. What a wonderful story. Our daughter got a dog from a family that was moving and was going to put him in a shelter, our daughter knew that after so many days, if not adopted, he would be put to sleep. So she took him, and had him for quite a long time. Mack was a good dog, but this past winter because of a condition the vet could not help, he finally had to be put to sleep. His remains were cremated and he now sets in a little oak box with a brass name plate, on her mantle.

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  14. Abe,
    Your love of animals certainly comes through. I truly hope that a lovely stray finds your yard. I can see not looking for another, but gosh, if one comes to you, then it was meant to be.
    My first dog as a child was a toy fox terrier. Super smart and wonderful dogs.

    richies,
    Awww, Pooh sure got lucky. I mean if your Mother hadn't taken her in, how could a kitten survive alone and with traffic. Way to go.

    OOLOH,
    So sorry it was a hard read but I really meant it to be horrific. Life as a dumped animal is hard to imagine. I just tried to put into words what I saw all too many times. I would like to think that the dumping our of pets is based more in ignorance than cruelty but that is probably my pollyanna nature talking.

    Patty,
    So glad your daughter saved that dog from the shelter. She so obviously loved him to want to keep him close. Pets usually give much more than they get. It is always a pleasure to hear of one being loved and well cared for.

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  15. Patti-

    I sat and read this post seething and grinding my teeth. I can't even write about it makes me so angry.

    I am glad you were there for Ratty.

    I have read recently on Jonathan Turley's blog about two cases of extreme animal cruelty that cause me extreme anger that somehow I manage to suppress. I would not be a good juror in the trial, if they even go that far. I do not think that animal cruelty penalties are nearly strong enough.

    Again, thanks for being there and caring so much over the years.

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  16. Sorry about your teeth Barry. Me too but this was not a story that I wanted to sugar coat. I've seen cases that make me realize I have a violent side by the anger it causes. Some things I have seen that are so bad, I don't know if I can tell them. Perhaps the more people realize what is happening, they will vote wisely when laws pertaining to animal cruelty come up on the ballot. I hope so.

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  17. People who can do that to an animal are the lowest of the low. Well written story, Patti.

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  18. I know Judy, I just wish there were a way to make them go through what the animal has to. Hunger, thirst, mind numbing disease for days till near death, would be fitting punishment.Would be glad to patch them up afterwards.

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  19. Patti I thought I was gonna cry before i to to the end!!! Our dog, also had been dumped and left at a state camp ground..(she at least found her way there) and most recently our daughter watched from a traffic light as a truck pulled into an abandoned gas station. Let down the back and pulled out a pet carrier, set in on the ground and drove off. She pulled over as soon as the light changed and found a 10 month old orange and white male cat...The guy left him in the cage..People are so INHUMANE!

    thanks for stopping and getting that dog, I think I wouldve been afraid.

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  20. Great writing as always. Our last dog Goldie I am sure either was dropped off or escaped from an abusive owner. Either way she was a sweet sweet dog but never recoverd from the emotional scars of her beatings.

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  21. boots,
    At least your dog was dumped in a place where she might be found and thank goodness you did.
    It is hard to beleive someone would dump a cat like that where all could see.
    Bless both you and your daughter for caring.

    Grayquill,
    Thank you. I too have seen the dogs that never fully recover. They always duck their heads when you go to pet them. They still don't trust their luck that you won't strike them. It hurts to see. Goldie was blessed that you found her.

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  22. Hello! I just happened upon your blog and was meserized by the story of Ratty. It was the saddest thing I've ever heard, but then I am a dog lover. I've had dogs since I was 4 years old, and now I'm 58. Very interesting way to get your point across. People who dump animals like that should be jailed or fined or something. I just got a new dog from our local shelter to keep my other dog company while I work. I'm really enjoying her. Glad your story had a good ending.

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  23. By the way, I'm also from Arkansas! Go Hogs!

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  24. Janie B,
    Thanks so much for stopping by TNS. What happens to dogs that are dropped off is grizzly. I spent 15 years picking up the pieces. It is not pretty and often I was just too late. They are not "born free" to hunt game when dropped off. They starve quite slowly to death or become road kill.
    Bless you for taking in a shelter dog.
    And yes---GO HOGS.

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  25. Bless you Patti !!!

    Long live Ratty !!!

    :-) The world needs more ppl like u. Cruelty towards animals is intolerable. Although I'm not a pet-lover & I'm scared of all animals by nature..I feel for them when they undergo harsh treatment & cannot even speak up for themselves! :(

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  26. lostworld, It is very special for someone who is actually afraid of animals to feel such empathy. Thank you.

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  27. My word, Patti! What a story! The first part made my blood boil; the last part warmed my heart.

    You have earned more than a few stars for your crown, my dear!

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