Monday, March 15, 2010


The reason I started my animal rescue venture is because when I first moved to Okeechobee, there was no Humane Society, just Animal Control. I witnessed the AC officer actually euthanizing a dog right after he had picked it up. Since there were no holding facilities,there was no such thing as waiting 10 days. We catch, you die seemed to be the procedure.

I was being trained on a route when I witnessed this policy. I saw the officer, pull the leg of a dog he had just captured through the cage doors and give it an injection that sent it limply to the floor of the cage. He then removed the dog and shoved it into a large barrel like container and shut the door. Stunned, I saw the hose run from his exhaust into the container.

I started to rage towards the officer in anger when Precious (my trainer) grabbed my shirt and pinned me. He then told me I could do nothing. It was the law. That was when I decided that if I saw a dog first, I could catch them and give them a chance for reclaiming or adoption. My rescue was founded that day.

Fortunately, not too long after that episode, Doris and her husband Tommy organized the Humane Society in our small town. Between them, they got some land by the local landfill, built some kennels and put "humane" back into dog control.

Doris was a tiny person. I am short but I could have eaten off the top of her head. She was tiny but fierce. I often told her I had to be her friend for I was too scared to be her enemy. She tackled politicians and dog fighters with the same fierce zeal. She truly was a force to be reckoned with.

We worked together for many years. Sometimes she would take my highly adoptable dogs I had found that would get greater exposure in her kennels and I would take her more difficult to adopt animals as I was a no-kill rescue. Doris had about 10 unadoptable dogs herself that she personally kept for that same reason. We kept duplicate records of our charges in case someone was trying to locate their lost dog.

Fortunately Tommy was of like mind and they worked together wonderfully. Unfortunately, he passed quite suddenly of a heart attack, leaving the bulk of the work to her and a huge hole in her life. Doris was not one to live alone. Less than a year after her husband's death, she met a man in church and they married. Chuck however was not the man he portrayed. There was a real mean streak in the man he kept well hidden till after the marriage.

Because marriage vows were important to Doris, she stayed in that marriage way too long. One night she called me in tears. One of Doris's pets was Twiggy who was a small white Chihuahua she had rescued from the Humane Society when no one adopted her. Twiggy was an old dog and most people want puppies or at least young dogs. Chuck hated the little dog and when Doris caught him kicking the small creature, she begged me to take the dog. She was afraid he would kill her.

I agreed immediately and tried to talk Doris into leaving that man but she had no fear for herself. Pretty sure Chuck would have seriously regretted it if he ever tried to hurt her. I think she looked upon him as a "stray" also that she could heal. Unable to talk her into leaving Chuck, I went to get Twiggy. Doris eventually left Chuck about 6 months later but she never asked for Twiggy back. Just as well, by then I was attached.

Not Twiggy but her absolute double.

I really didn't need any pets but since she was so old, I felt I probably wouldn't have to care for her too much longer. She was at least 15 then. My only house pets at that time were my 2.5 pound Chihuahua Sissy and an elderly Pekingese, Snort. Twiggy turned out to be a Miss Congeniality type and my house hold swelled to a compatible three. The outside number was in the 40's.

When Twiggy had originally come into the Humane Society, she had been put in an outside,partially covered metal kennel. One day during a fierce Florida thunder story, there was a nearby lightning strike. Doris said Twiggy had been completely traumatized which was another reason she ended up as her house pet. As a result of that lightning strike, Twiggy could sense a storm 20 miles away and was inconsolable when a storm would approach. She would hide under my recliner half an hour before the first cloud appeared. She was a jam up weather dog.

Holding her and soothing her did not help. The only thing that helped was when I folded the recliner shut and let her stay in her little safe cave. That was the only time the pitiful whining would stop. Sometimes, I actually forgot she was there and wouldn't realize it till I sat down to watch TV in the evening and as I leaned back, out would pop a little white dog, slightly ticked off.

Well, my not-going-to- live long dog fooled us all. She stayed with me for five years reaching the ripe old age of 20. Not too long before she died, she developed pretty severe arthritis. She would be walking across the pasture with me when the disease would cause her front legs to spasm and fold up tightly across her chest. She would crash into a three point landing. She never made a sound or showed signs of pain as I grabbed her legs and forced them gently back into the proper position. Then she would be off again as if nothing had happened.

Twiggy was a grand little lady and I still think about her. Could really use her here in tornado country. Weather dogs have perhaps a greater value than a watch dog.

If you have an animal afraid of storms, don't despair. Just find what brings them the most comfort and heed the warnings. They perform a wonderful function.


  1. My friend had a prescription for her greyhound who was deathly afraid of thunder storms. She said the pills were for the dog, but I believe she also took them herself.

  2. Your stories are incredible. The way you write is amazing...

  3. i've noticed Luckie seeks solace during storms. She isn't much of a forecaster, or maybe, I am not paying attention.

    She seeks shelter under my power lift recliner, under a desk, or anything she perceives as safe.

    Once I squashed her completely under the foot when lowering myself to get up. I didn't realize it immediately as she did not make a sound. When I finallhy saw the black tail I realized my error. when she got out she still did not seem miffed.

  4. Our 12 yr. old mutt man Moses(part boxer, pointer, dane, pit, and lastly beagle(barks at air) is afraid of storms coming and paces around and then lays right at my feet. He is so sweet....he laso loves our 4 cats, especially our first, Maggie...she is brindle like Moses...they are pals.
    And, I agree with turquoisemoon in that your stories are amazing.
    Keep up the writing gift you have.
    My cousins live in Arkansas...beautiful state.

  5. Mia...our Jack Russell is terrified of storms.....she hides in the male child's closet under his dirty clothes..

  6. Our dog used to be terribly afraid of thunderstorms. He died long ago. He was my childhood dog and friend and lived until my kids were in their first years of school. He would drive me crazy when he would "escape" the back yard and go adventuring. I'd call to him, but he was deaf. After that the chase was on. He sort of liked that part. Once I had to go down and bail him out of the pound. It didn't seem so harsh back then, but Ft. Worth was a lot smaller back then.

  7. Our cocker has storm phobia. Before being rescued, she, like Twiggy, lived in an outdoor cage. The vet prescribed Xanax, but we have found that if we open my husband's closet door and let her "hide" amid his shoes, the shaking stops.

    LOL at "SNORT." I don't have to ask why you named him that. :)

  8. As always, very interesting. I did know dogs were sensitive to storms but don't think I've ever had one that was afraid. That pleases me a lot.

  9. I was shocked to read how animal control officers treated strays and dogs that had wondered too far from home. That is a very sad and scary tale.

    Your rescue work was really amazing, patti.

  10. What a neat story, Patti.... Your little weather dog was really special. Glad you had her---and all of the others who were not adoptable. So Twiggy lived to be 20???? WOW--that is amazing!

    Do you still hear from Doris these days???? She sounds like a pistol!!!!! What a neat lady...

    Thanks for sharing your stories. You are truly a savior--when it comes to saving dogs...


  11. What a sweet story - I hate it when people are mean to animals. You know they're mean deep down when they do that. blessings, marlene

  12. Olga,
    I hope it helped your friend get thru the storms. I took my dogs Keflex antibiotics till I started to scoot across the floor on my behind. He he

    I am so glad you like my stories. That makes the time spent worth while. Thank you.

    She is big to fit under a closed recliner. She certainly was forgiving. Guess she was just grateful for the safe place to hide.

    Wow, Moses is really a strange mix. Too bad you can't post a picture.
    Thank you so much for the kind words about my writing.
    Yes Arkansas is really a beautiful state. I love it.

    Mia has found a safe place that smells good, to her anyway.

    Amber Star,
    How lucky you were to have a dog for so long that covered two generations. I had a deaf dog. Your can't resist calling them.
    Funny about bailing him out. That reminds me of a funny story for another day. Thanks.

    Like you, I much prefer finding a place they feel secure to pills. A nice "den" usually works.
    You must have know a Peke. Snort could snore like a grown man and was constantly making strange noises. He was a hoot.

    Not all of them are. Mighty could care less, they don't bother him at all. It is more unusual than usual to be afraid.

    I saw total red that day and was disgusted. For once in my life I really wanted to hurt someone. Precious saved me from assault charges. Fortunately the town has grown kinder thanks to Doris and her husband. They turned the tide.

    You know when I started to write this I wondered what happened to Doris. She was quite a bit older than me and when I retired and quit my rescue work, we lost contact. Pistol describes her well. I felt lucky to know her.

    If they are mean to animals, God help their children. Have no use for them at all.

  13. I had a dog that was terrifed of thunderstorms. I came home from work one day after a storm and found that he had gotten on the front porch and chewed completely through a window trying to get inside. We ended up having to replace all the windows.

  14. You have so many stories Patti, I often wonder just how many animals you have loved or helped in some way. Love your writing!

  15. Patti you have lead an interesting life...

  16. SVB
    Now that went right past funny to tragic.Yikes. Think I would kennel that dog if I weren't home. It is really sad that some are so terrified.

    Thank you so much. I placed 248 dogs for adoption, some were too sick to get that lucky, some were just unadoptable. So you can say LOTS.

    4th Sister,
    It hasn't been boring to me at least. Not too much I would have changed.

  17. Bitter-sweet story. Stunned & Shocked when I read the beginning.. seems so heartless.

    Amazed you remember it all & write down as though it happened a month ago. I'm fast learning so many new things about animals!! I simply loved the way you described Twiggy!

  18. when Isadora first got here she hid in the recliner

    I'm so glad Doris eventually left the SOB - I wish I could have kicked him

    bless you for starting the shelter

  19. lostworld,
    I know. The cruelty just stunned me when I saw that but at that time, that was how they handled the stray dog problem. The poor dog that just wandered away from his home was doomed. Sure glad times have changed.

    Recliners do seem to be the answer for most pets. If I weren't so big, I'd crawl under one to see what the appeal is.
    Thank you but I had no other choice.

  20. My little dog hates thunder and the only thing that will sooth her is snuggling up to me.....I love it and so does she.

  21. You have the best stories. We once had a dog (when I was young) who tore up the basement door every time there was thunder or lightning, or fireworks. Nothing consoled her!

  22. Amanda,
    Aww, she totally trusts you which is so cool.
    It is so sad seeing such terror in their eyes. Twiggy just couldn't be consoled except in her den.
    I am a bit surprised to learn how many of my readers had storm frightened dogs.

    Thanks Judy.
    Your dog was the sad extreme that was destructive. Can you imagine their terrible fear?

  23. Patti this was a bit to emotional - Can you knock it off? :)
    Nicely written. It reminded me of Goldie.

  24. Sorry GQ, it is really hard to do a dog story that has a happy ending. Will prominse to try.