July 20th, 2009
Submitted by EARS Field Leader Norma Rodriguez of Bellflower, California
As a first-time Field Leader I apologize for not creating a daily blog. My pitiful excuse is that by the time we returned to the hotel, had a shower and some dinner, it was 11 p.m. By then I was too physically and emotionally wrung out to string two words together.
Yesterday, the EARS deployment officially ended, but it will live in our hearts forever. It was my first puppy mill experience and now I am more committed than ever to shutting them down! Last night, while sharing some lovin’ with my own dogs, I noticed that I didn’t feel any bones while petting them. Many, many of the dogs at the emergency shelter were so emaciated that it was heartbreaking. One of our convergent volunteers actually broke down when she began working with a wonderful little Bassett who was painfully thin. I think that she, too, is now committed to helping shut down puppy mills.
Thankfully I can say that the joyous moments far exceeded the sad ones. Seeing lethargic, dehydrated dogs become not just responsive, but attention-seeking love hounds was a true joy. One poor standard poodle, terribly emaciated and dehydrated, did a complete turn-around with the help of EARS volunteer Beverly Brenner. I asked Beverly to take him to a quiet place on the loading dock with a bowl and bottle of water and give him some one-on-one attention. He hadn’t had a drink or relieved himself for two days. It only took a few minutes for him to accept and focus on Beverly’s kindness and compassion. A few minutes later he was eagerly and gratefully drinking. By mid-afternoon he was at the front of his kennel seeking attention!
Something very unusual happened in that some EARS folks ended up taking dogs home. A sad- looking labradoodle claimed Christine’s heart, actually demanded it, and now has a wonderful forever home. I honestly don’t know who claimed who, but it was a match made in Heaven, for sure! My guess is that Chris did cartwheels after I called her to come and get her dog. Connie, a wannabe midwife, went home with a new therapy dog. Connie was in charge of our nursery and quarantine area. She had charge of three beagles who were due any day. Tracy said they were ready to “download.” Unfortunately they hadn’t delivered by Sunday and Connie didn’t get to be a midwife.
Speaking of newbie EARS volunteer Tracy…she kept us entertained with her dog dialogues. Tracy has a way of putting into words what dogs would say if they spoke English rather than barkish. The antics of her own animals also kept us in stitches. Her expertise in large dog handling is so fantastic. I don’t believe there is anything Tracy can’t handle. I think her experience working with 700 military dogs provided her with a great deal of knowledge and insight.
The many, many EARS volunteers and convergent volunteers from the local community were truly fantastic. Everyone worked with a great deal of energy, compassion, dedication and spirit. Some came for a day, a few days, or more than a week, and everyone regretted having to leave. The community support was amazing. Every need, desire, or wish was granted so quickly! One spectacular supporter fed us and fed us and fed us! Suzanne even brought a birthday cake, ice cream and candles to celebrate Sandy Rogers’ birthday. When I spoke with Sandy she said it was the best birthday she’d ever had. (Just don’t tell that extraordinary husband of hers, G-Man Jesse!) If there was such a thing, Jesse would have earned an honorary red shirt for all his hard work and dedication! So many EARS volunteers and convergents showed up while I was there that if I hadn’t kept a daily attendance sheet I wouldn’t believe the numbers. I just hope that I was able to convey to all of them how much I appreciated their contributions to the care and welfare of the nearly 500 dogs and their teammates. They truly were extraordinary!
I also must note that the staff of the Humane Society of North Texas, especially Sandy, were very, very accommodating and great to work with. Chesapeake, instrumental in getting this rescue off the ground, provided so much in the way of support, attention to needs, and care of the volunteers. People like Ricky Ewing who were there every day asking how they could help us were a true blessing. The Hyatt Place Hotel staff was very gracious and accommodating. When we needed to be at the shelter at 6 a.m. they set up a breakfast bar for us at 5 a.m.
I have so many more experiences to share with all of you and hope to do it in the next few days as I decompress from my first Field Leader experience. In the meantime, feel free to share your own experiences and thoughts here in the “comments” section.
To paraphrase a quote I read somewhere: Saving one dog won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one dog.