This is the most personal “note” I have ever written. Today has been a very bad day. If Johnny Rzeznik had it right about bleeding to know you’re alive, then today I am very much alive because my heart is bleeding baby, it is bleeding.
I thought the day got off to a not so awesome start due to a few not so awesome emails in the inbox. Now I’m wishing that was the worst thing to happen. If that were true today would be a very good day in comparison. Things looked up for a brief moment when there was a good update on our parvo pup Drew. I was ready to shake off the bad vibes and turn my day around.
And then the emails started. First Deja, an emaciated female beagle/hound mix, attacked by another dog, she has puncture wounds on her face, head and ears. Damn. Then Justice, a female Great Dane, emaciated, pregnant, infected bite wounds on her body in need of immediate help. The flurry of phone calls starts, can we get a driver to take her to the vet? Can the vet see her today? What rescue can take her? She’s part of a cruelty case, can we even move her from the shelter? And before the dust can settle, there is Liam. Liam is our Sinjin’s daddy. He has been shot. He has a bullet entry wound on the side of his abdomen. No exit wound. Commence the cussing and continue the mad scramble.
The fabulous staff at Bell County accommodates our kids. We have appointments, transportation arrangements are made. And then, and then Gabriel. Then the call comes about a puppy, a puppy that has been shot, in the mouth. The ACO is rushing to get him. The staff at Bell County says, yes, bring him too, without a second thought. They know their day just got longer, they do not care.
But here is where I have a really, really tough time. Here is where I break down. Here is the part that will give me nightmares for days and weeks to come. If you are faint of heart stop reading now. This is your warning…graphic content ahead….shut it down, close out the note…stop.
If you are still here then here is where I find out that Gabriel has a hole in the side of his nose, he has no lower jaw left to speak of and no tongue left at all. This is where I look at the pictures and convulse into heaving sobs, unable to control it, unable to stop. You might ask why I looked. Do I have masochistic tendencies? Is it the train wreck you can’t look away from? Truth – I had to know. I had to know there was really nothing we could do. I just had to know. And the tears flowed and flowed.
This is where my “kids” gather round mom, concerned looks, tentatively wagging tails, kisses and kisses to make it all better. Only nothing can make this better. I love my kids. I mean I LOVE them. And I am grateful for their sweet faces and so damn grateful they are here and they are safe.
But Gabriel is not safe. He is the farthest thing from safe. I cannot fathom this level of human depravity. Someone took the muzzle of a gun, they had to have placed it right against this little boy’s face and they pulled the trigger. Then knowing he was not dead, knowing the damage the inflicted did not kill him, they walked away, leaving him with his face falling apart. Gabriel will never be safe in this world again. Maybe he never was.
But while I’m falling apart, our friends at the shelter do not have that luxury. They must take the only care of Gabriel they can. They must hold him as he wags his tail, happy just to have some kindness and human touch and caress him, stroke his head and tell him he’s a good boy while he is sedated and gently falls to sleep. And then they must hold him and whisper that they love him as his pain and suffering is ended forever and he takes his very last breath.
These folks are heroes. They must deal with so much pain and heartbreak and they continue to pull themselves back together and return to the front lines. They do it so they can be there to be the bridge to safety, so Deja can have her wounds gently cleaned, so Justice and Liam can make it to the vet and so Gabriel can leave this world surrounded by love. They do it to be a voice for the voiceless. They do it so that together we can build a bridge and bring more kids to a place where they will be safe. They do it to make a better world for these beautiful spirits, God’s creatures who are solely dependent on us. They keep compassion alive in this world. They are the faith and the hope for the future of the human race.
If you get a chance, please go to the Harlan County Animal Shelter facebook page and tell them you appreciate what they do. Tell them that we are grateful they are there. Tell them that they are amazing for what they do day in and out. If you have adopted a dog from Safe Hands thank them for saving your kids life.
It has been a very bad day. Tomorrow I will pull myself up by the bootstraps and start over again because so will they and because the dogs need us all. Tonight, if you have read this far, make this day a little better, go tell Jessica, Mikel, Willie and Jenn that they are heroes and that it matters.