Monday, August 10, 2015


This is a rerun from 2009 since I just don't have anything for today. I only had 3 followers at that time so it should be new for most of you. 

In the years that I ran the animal rescue, I placed over 250 dogs. I would love to say they all went to wonderful homes, but that wasn't always the case. You try the best you can and while I always followed up on the adoptions, a few fell through the cracks, much like our child services organizations. One such case was Ginger.

Ginger was a street dog when I found her. She was making a living raiding garbage cans and annoying the town residents. I often worked with the Humane Society and was told about this stray. Every time they went to pick her up, she vanished. She evidently knew their trucks. The director, who was a good friend, asked me to try to catch her as the neighbors were threatening to cause her harm with vague threats of poisoning.  

She was a small Sheltie mix with a very dirty and matted coat. There was nothing pretty about Ginger. I saw her cruising McDonald's parking lot, bought a cheese burger and caught her with no problem. My vehicle fooled her. I dropped her off at the vets for exam, bath and hair cut.

When I picked her up in the evening, I didn't recognize her. They had to shave her almost to the skin due to the mats. God had given her a lot of hair for a reason, she had an ugly body.

Ginger fit right in at the shelter and she adopted Sooner, a large greyhound male, as her best buddy. They were inseparable.  He would do his sprints around the pasture at roughly 40 miles per hour. Pumping her little legs as best she could, she would trail him and he would soon lap her many times but both ran with tongues out and wide grins. They were a joy to watch.

I apologize for quality and stains on the old picture.

As her hair grew, she became quite pretty and I sought to adopt her out. Ginger was very affectionate if a bit needy so when a friend suggested a woman he knew who was in an assisted living home that allowed pets, I was thrilled. Ginger would get 24/7 attention.

When the lonely woman saw Ginger, it was instant love. I felt I had really found a perfect match and had made two beings very happy. It was a really good day and I was quite comfortable in the adoption. I left my card with the director and told her that if, God forbid, anything happened to the lady, I would take Ginger back.

It was almost a year later when the director called me. She explained that Ginger's owner had dementia that was progressing rapidly and it was getting where she could no longer care for a pet. 

I asked if I could help out with walks and such but she said that the little dog was being unintentionally abused. The lady would tie the dog to her chair and not let her move. She would swat Ginger when she tried to move away. I was heart sick that the little dog was being so badly treated but I also felt deeply for the woman and the cruelties of that disease.

The director wanted me to take the dog but said we had to do it while the woman was at a doctors appointment as she would not understand and might get aggressive. This did not sit well with me for I was basically being asked to steal this woman's dog. I had no knowledge of dementia behavior but trusted the director and agreed to steal Ginger.

I went to pick up Ginger when the woman had gone to her appointment in the morning. Ginger acted almost fearful to see me and there was a dull look in her eyes. Under her thick coat, I felt her bones. She had obviously suffered in this home. 

When we got home, her reunion with Sooner lifted her spirits and I saw some of the old Ginger reappear. I was hopeful there was no permanent emotional damage and that it would just take time, care and love.

I had plans that day and when I got home there was a message on my answering machine. As I played it, my heart split in two.

A thin reedy voice softly spoke thru tears. "My doggie, my doggie, what have you done with my doggie? Please, please, I want my doggie. Bring her back-- please." Then the phone went dead.

I didn't know I could cry and throw up at the same time. It hurt-so-damn-bad. She had evidently kept my business card from when I first took Ginger to her. Perhaps whoever placed the call, hung up for her. Regardless, she knew I had stolen her friend. Pain strangled her voice. I couldn't feel any lower or dirtier so I threw up again.

I called the director when I could finally speak. She assured me that in a very short time, the woman would forget all about Ginger. I doubted that but was then told she was going into full custodial care, so having a dog was out. The cruelty of what I had done was impossible to bear.

There was no right thing to do here. I had to protect the dog but did I have the right to make this poor woman suffer any more? Thank God she never called back but I can hear her voice clearly today.  

Ginger later went into a wonderful home where she spent the rest of her years ruling the household as a benevolent dictator. That helped my conscience quite a bit. However, I still cringe today when I hear the word "doggie."

Have you ever had to do something that was the right thing to do but it broke your heart?


  1. Wow, Patti. What a powerful story. And how awful for you to have to go through all that when everything you did was done out of kindness.

  2. There is no winning with dementia, it is a horrible disease, it is like taking the dog from a two year old, sad but only fair for the dog.

  3. How terrible for you, for Ginger, for the old woman. It's simply awful to have something like this happen when your intentions were all for the best. Ginger must have been an old soul to be tested like that. I'm so glad that she ended up in a good home. I can't think of anything I've ever had to do that turned out so badly, but there must have been some. :-(

  4. I cannot help but wonder if you could have replaced her doggie with a stuffed animal. My mother loved dogs and when she could not keep one in her retirement home, we gave her a fluffy stuffed pup we all called Grandma's Baby and she loved that inanimate critter a great deal.

  5. Oh Patti, I can see why this memory has stayed with you. I'm glad that Ginger ended up in a good home. I honestly feel like you did the very best thing for her.

  6. With dementia, they are here maybe 5% of the time..... the rest of the time they are in their own little world.
    My mother's friend had an adorable little dog that she had loved dearly before dementia set in. My mother
    noticed the little dog was beginning to look sick and lustless and when her friend started putting the ice
    cream in a cupboard, she called the friends daughter who lived a long distance away. The daughter came
    and was shocked to find her brilliant mother in such a sad mess. The daughter did all the necessary things,
    sold the house and took her mother and dog to live with her. It all ended well but I know my mother missed
    her friend.

    You were soooo right to take Ginger.

  7. Then there are the wonderful adoptions. You did good.

    Dad, with Alzheimer's, was gifted a puppy for his birthday by me. I chose a white dog that was supposed be a Bichon Frise but just luck of the draw, it was the first white dog I found. That girl had a wonderful life here with Dad and she gave him lots of company. She sat on the dinner table while he ate (I know, that sounds horrible but it made Dad happy.) He trained her very well and she would sit and wait until he said, Okay, I'm through and push the plate to her. TP gave him an opportunity to have a pet to interact with and the love was mutual.
    TP outlived Dad but always the most gentle dog and I think that came for Dad's training.

    What you did was right and very difficult. I understand.

    Thank you for helping so many dogs.

  8. I think you made the very hard, but right choice. I couldn't imagine leaving a dog with someone who even inadvertently mistreats it.

  9. That is really a tough one. I think I would have switched the real dog for a toy dog in the hopes that the woman wouldn't know the difference at that point.

  10. Great story. Thank you for caring so much.

  11. You did the only thing you could do. But like you it would break my heart to do it. Because of you that dog had many more happy years.

  12. You did what needed doing. Kuddos to you. Yes, I've done a thing that had to be done and broke my heart.

  13. Marty,
    Thank you. It really was rough and I haven't totally shed it.

    I really didn't have another choice. Hopefully you are right.

    I use to worry just how long Ginger had been abused without anyone knowing about it. The home she finally got was exemplary. It was a retired couple and she had them wrapped around her paw.

    Grannie Annie,
    What a great idea!!! Sure wish I had thought of it at the time. It might have really helped her.

    I really had no choice I could live with. It was just a rotten shame it had to end that way for the lady. She was so heartbroken at the time.

    So glad for your mother's friend that her family took her in. This woman had a son but he rarely visited her. Family can make all the difference.

    Pets can make all the difference in a person's life when life becomes difficult. Dogs give to them perhaps more than they give to the rest of us which is a immeasurable. Your Dad was lucky to have you to make sure he and the pup were OK.

    The sad thing is that the manager didn't notice the neglect sooner. The sad thing is that the woman had no idea that she was mistreating the dog. Her state of mind had just changed.

    You and Grannie Annie both had that great idea. Just wish I had thought of it at the time. It might have really helped.

    Thank you. Some people have a choice to care, I never have.

    I know you are right. It was so hard at the time but in the end Ginger had a wonderful life of a thoroughly spoiled primadonna. It was a blessing to witness it.

    I know how you feel. Knowing it is the right thing does nothing to lessen the pain but we have to do it.

    I'm sorry. It made me also--even today.

  14. I can easily understand how distressed you were by this situation. I]m fortunate in that I've never had to do anything similar. I'm sure in your heart you know you did the right thing.

  15. I believe that when you work with animals, when you try to help them and things go wrong, your heart is often broken. I feel this is because you can't explain. Now in your case, this also is true for the woman, which really is just so heart breaking.

  16. As I read your story, I felt bad for the dog, I felt bad for the old lady, and I felt bad for you. But mostly I'm happy that Ginger had a happy ending.

  17. What a tough time to go through. I think you did exactly the right thing - I'm certain that the woman forgot about the dog and it would not have been right to leave Ginger there to be abused.

    I can't say I've ever had to do anything quite so difficult. I did have to ask a good friend to move out of my home - long story short, she was living in my basement, didn't pay her rent, and the place was a pigsty. (I hauled 20 bags of garbage out of 600 square feet when she left). It wasn't pleasant and we've never spoken since. But it was the right thing to do.

  18. Indeed. Am familiar with these circumstances. Still in this case alls well that ends well. You did the right things, Patti....

  19. You have done a good job. Many peoples don't care for street dogs. They used to throw stones on them and always disturb them. I was impressed by your work.All the best!

  20. Oh my goodness. . . you did a wonderful thing. Definitely not for the faint of heart. You're made the world a better place, Patti. No one's mental condition should give them a "pass" for mistreating a living being.

    That woman needed a teddy bear, not a dog.

  21. You did the right thing, Patti. The poor woman missed Ginger for only a short time, most likely, and you saved the dogs life. I wish I had a facility to care for rescued animals, there is such a need! And yes, I've done things that broke my heart.
    Have a nice week!

  22. What a heart-breaking experience for you, Patti, even though you obviously made the right decision and Ginger ended up well-cared for. I remember a decision I had to make in 2010 that brought me to tears. Bob and I went to a rescue organization to adopt Sweet Pea (the subject of my current blog) and, while there, saw the most wonderful little orange and white kitten whose name was Mango. He leapt purring into my arms and we decided to adopt him along with Sweet Pea, thinking that they would be great kitten companions and not bother our two older cats so much. The rescue organization was having funding difficulties and didn't have the resources to test animals for leukemia or FIV. As we had recently lost our beloved Marina, a three year old cat, to undiagnosed leukemia, we were extra-sensitive about its dangers -- how easily it could be spread to a kitten. We had been fortunate in Marina's case: our other two cats had not caught it from her and had subsequently had super-immunizations. So we made an appointment to take Sweet Pea and Mango to our own vet two days later for testing.

    In the meantime, we fell totally in love with Mango, a cuddly, curious, funny little fellow, while realizing that Sweet Pea had some major feline personality disorder and was going to be a difficult addition to our family. When they were tested at the vet's, Sweet Pea was fine but Mango tested positive for leukemia. We realized that, in order to keep Sweet Pea from becoming infected, we would have to take Mango back. It totally broke our hearts. I sobbed on the phone when I called the shelter. The volunteers there wept with me when we returned him. Our next door neighbor, who was totally enamored with Mango, stomped around his back yard in a rage, fighting tears. The shelter was a no kill facility, fortunately, but Mango, his litter and his mother were all put in isolation. The kittens, including Mango, all died of infections within a few months. The mother, also infected with leukemia, was adopted by a loving family as an only pet.

    I still get wistful when I think of sweet little Mango. His picture hangs in a collage in our entry hall with the rest of our feline family. Even though he was part of our family for only three days, in spirit he's with us forever.

  23. Stephen,
    You are right. I hated the decision at the time but knew even then it was the only thing I could do.

    I wish I had followed the suggestions to get her a stuffed animal. It might have helped both of us. You are right. There were many times there was nothing I could do for an animal and that hurt a lot.

    Linda R,
    Me too. If it hadn't turned out for Ginger the way it did, not sure how I would have managed.

    Wow, that was the friend from Hell. How sad she abused you so. You had no choice.

    Thank you. I did what I had to like we all do.

    Thank you. It was the stone throwing that usually made it hard to catch a stray. They were very wary of humans.

    Thank you, I did what I felt I had to.
    I know, I just wish I had thought of the stuffed animal at the time.

    I so hope it was only a brief time she suffered. You do the same thing with the cats you rescue. I know how involved one can become.

    Dr. Kathy,
    Your story was so heartwarming about Sweet Pea. That was one lucky cat to have had you adopt her. Pretty sure no one would have stayed with her like you did.
    Feline Leukemia is such a dreadful disease and how awful that you had to return Mango who was the sweet one. It is so contagious and you had no choice.

  24. Oh Patti, you did the right thing, of course. What happened to that poor dog was also sad. I'm sorry you had to suffer so much with that experience.

    My son's dog must have been mistreated by a man with glasses before he became a rescue dog. When we were in Pennsylvania last month, Mungo would growl and snarl at my husband until he sat down and gave him a treat. He would always let me in the door happily, but wouldn't let any man (especially with glasses) pass him into the house. By the end of our 2 week visit, Mungo would let Art in occasionally without a treat but never completely trusted him. It was weird because Art is a dog lover. I am not used to dogs but Mungo would often sit by my side.