One must stand for something
It began in the fall of 2014 when the man came across an abandoned GSD. The GSD was completely terrified of all human contact. The man wondered how the dog ended up in his neighborhood; what could have happened to the dog to cause such fearfulness? The man fed the dog daily and tried to earn his trust. Then a memory triggered.
It was a day he was walking his own two dogs. A beautiful GSD came charging at him and his two dogs from a neighbors yard. The owner, chasing from behind, belt in hand, was screaming at the poor frightened dog. As the GSD stopped short, his owner caught up to the dog and beat him with the belt he was toting. The man hung his head in shame, convincing himself it was not his place to intervene.
With the fresh memory from months gone by, the man walked to the home where the GSD lived, discovering the home had been abandoned. Upon further investigation, he learned that the owners left in the middle of the night several weeks prior. Now it all made sense; the timing was spot-on. The dog's behavior toward people was no coincidence. The man knew he needed to help this boy in any way possible. He needed redemption from not stopping the abuse he had witnessed months ago.
The dog was named Bane, and the man was later able to trap him with the help of more experienced rescuers. Bane would go on to be adopted and renamed Beo by the most wonderful family. They knew the challenges they faced, but they accepted Beo and worked tirelessly with him and a behaviorist. In time, Beo learned to trust his family; he learned to feel safe.
Inspired by the strength and redemption of Beo, the man devoted himself to rescuing dogs. In the three years following, he would see so much neglect, abuse, and abandonment, and that he often wondered, "What good was being done?". The number of dogs in need, the number of requests for help: they rose day after day. He would find an incredible group of like-minded individuals and develop some lifelong friendships along the way. Through this group, he was able to witness truly amazing things. Through the worst of mankind, he would witness the best. Those who would go to great lengths to make a difference. One dog at a time. He always knew, unless the root cause of the problem was addressed, the circle would continue, but he found hope in the people who did so much to help each dog. There were people who would give up their own meals to feed a hungry dog. There were others who would brave the elements in search of a reportedly injured dog. There were shelter staff who face far worse day in and day out, but who would also do the very best they can to get as many dogs out of the shelter as possible. Staff in shelters are often criticized for euthanasia rates, but what else are they to do? The number in need far outweighs the number of homes looking to add a new member.
The list of names seems endless. There are dogs like Noah who was a cruelty seizure: mangled paws, open wounds around his neck, yet through it, all never failed to fill a room of people with love and affection. Noah would go on to receive a prosthetic paw and later help put his previous owner in jail. There were dogs like Miracle, with a fractured skull, (the result of being struck with a bat or blunt object of sorts and left die), only to make a full recovery. Others like Frannie, who became quite famous for her truly unbelievable transformation.
Had the man not seen it and been part of it, he would have found it hard to believe. He learned that when people stand up and offer a helping hand. a dog is capable of anything. He learned that despite human's best efforts, the spirit, will, determination and unwavering love found inside each dog is insurmountable. He learned dogs had so much to teach mankind if only they would listen. They know no jealousy nor racism nor greed. They know and understand an unmatched devotion to their family, and they would risk their lives in a heartbeat to protect their family.
Still, these dogs are too often seen as a just a possession. There are cruel and unfeeling people in the world who would lump them into the same category as a lamp or old pair of shoes to be discarded when they are no longer "new". Or when they are no longer the cute cuddly puppy. When they reach teenage years and become rebellious, instead of teaching them, the people who were once their family abandon them to fend for themselves.
The man often struggled with the balance of doing the right thing while questioning what good was actually being done. And yet each time doubt would creep in, so too, would a dog like Cubby come along. The group he was with would go to great lengths to help him, veterinary staff would exhaust all resources to identify the cause of the suffering, and people from around the world would donate to his care. Dogs like Cubby, who was yet another cruelty case) would once again show the man the good in mankind and the amount of love that a dog has to give. Cubby is a truly special being. His eyes can light up a room. As a result of his profound abuse, Cubby would never be "normal". He could, however, live a happy life, full of the spoils found in a good home that each dog deserves.
The rescue life is full of ups and downs: from the miracle upon miracles to the lowest of the lows when you find one too late. There are those like Betty, Barney, Edgar, Ingram, and Balin who were each beyond saving. The only thing you could do for those dogs is to offer them a love they had never known in this life and help them find peace as they crossed to the rainbow bridge.
Today, there is a dog named CJ. A dog who came via Houston's Animal Crimes division. CJ arrived with injuries so heinous you can't even imagine what he went through, or how someone could do such things. You read the vet's evaluation with a sick feeling in your stomach, on the verge of vomiting. CJ is a sweet boy, through and through. He never deserved to have to endure the things that were done to him. He was too innocent to fight back, too sweet to bite. He did what he knew to do; he trusted his human while his human sexually abused him.
Somehow, rescuers manage to muscle past it. Still, during one vet trip, a question comes up: a question so vile you cannot fight back the tears. You run to the restroom to vomit. The vet asks if the person responsible ever performed oral sex on the dog. It's at that very moment that you remember each and every case of abuse before CJ. You remember all the people who make rescue difficult and in that very moment you have a moment of clarity. You realize you've reached your limit, you stand and admit defeat. You realize, the trials and tribulations of trying to do right are too much to bear and you need to walk away and find a new path.
I am the man in this story and after years of helping one dog at a time, I needed to find a new way. A way to potentially help far more.