This entire story makes me so sad.
I have two wonderful friends who roam the streets of Tijuana in search for hurt and abused dogs. When they “rescue” a pup, they get it looked at by a vet and place it in foster while waiting for a permanent home.
I use the term “rescue” loosely. So do they. They’re like the Robin Hoods of mistreated dogs, and have saved many canine lives. Improved many as well.
Her name: Oliva.
Her breed: A mix between Rottweiler & Great Dane. Basically a Rotty with long legs.
My status: Instant love the moment I see her face on the place for faces — Facebook.
She suffered from severe malnourishment, and could stand to gain a lot of weight. She is 6 years old, and gauging on her rescuers she has spent her entire life alone. Alone and tied to the owner’s bumper. Tied to a pickup truck. Or tied in a muddy yard. She lived either huddled under a pickup, or sloshing in a mud bath. Outside. Always outside. And alone, have I mentioned the alone factor yet?
Am I doing the opposite of embellishing the facts? Perhaps. I’m merely sharing what I’ve heard.
- my friends head out to Tijuana,
- collect her from the foster home (which was almost as shabby as the original owner),
- collect another rescue,
- stop by the vet’s have the doc inspect the pooches,
- return to San Diego late late Saturday night,
- I get her Sunday morning.
- the collecting of Oliva from the foster home could have easily required the police since the foster was so shabby it was a case of fraud where the owners were in it simply for the money,
- Oliva was not the only dog being collected from the foster – it was like rescuing a rescue from the so-called rescuer,
- the vet did more than simply look her over – she was spayed,
- the other dog had so many issues, the vet overlooked one of her damaged teets which hung precariously low looking like it had been cut,
- my friends arrived in San Diego at 3am,
- Sunday morning turned out to be Sunday afternoon at 3:30 where we met at the dog wash.
I’ve never been to a dog wash place. I have no idea what to expect. Oliva is a nervous wreck. She has no idea what to expect either.
“This is your apron” says the young pierced woman who works there. Why would I need an apron, I don’t work here I think to myself being careful to not think out loud in case I was way out of line. Good call on the internal thinking before opening my mouth.
The dog wash fee is for the use of the tubs, water, shampoo, conditioner, towels, but not the actual handling of the dog.
“It’s great for bonding, of course you’re the one doing it,” encouraged my mind-reading friend. Okey dokey I tell myself as I tie the apron around my waist taking visual cue from the other patrons. Soaking wet patrons must I add.
Yes. I’ve had dogs before. This was an era where we washed them at home in our bathtubs, or outside with the hose, or where we let them wash themselves one lick at a time. With their own tongue, not that I’ve ever licked a dog clean. Which certain may argue could be another fine way to bond with your pooch!
I wash her. All is well. We use up 4 bottles of shampoo, 2 bottles of conditioner, 2 bottles of shiner. “An extra ear wash and blueberry face wash?” Yes please!
So I enter the process of bonding with my new dog. My Oliva. My rescue. I pay the dog wash, and let her drag me down the street to my car. I load her up, and beg my friends to follow me home. If Oliva and Honey Badger (the roommate’s Great Dane) do not get along then I cannot keep her. That is the deal.
As I drive and try to not loose my friends following me down the highway, Oliva makes sure my hand is on her. At all times. As soon as my right hand holds the steering wheel, she nudged it away with her face. She climbs on me, and rubs up on my face. I gently shove her to the passenger seat. And we rinse and repeat this process almost as often as the numerous bottles we poured over her.
By the time I get home, she has climbed not only onto my lap, but right into my heart. She has wedged herself deeply between my ventricles. I can barely breathe.
Badger is overjoyed! He brings her toys showing he wants to play with her. Oliva does not understand toys. She understands the yard and its smells. She understands territory. Oliva ignores the toys, but plays with the yard instead. She marks her territory on every square inch. Oliva scuffles like a cartoon dog, and tries to dig up imaginary treasures.
“I think we’re good to go,” I tell my friends. They leave. I’m happy. All is well.
The second reality:
- Once Badger, Oliva and I are alone, Olive resumes her play of marking her territory. She pees on the scrap piece of bag we use to wipe our feet off when we come home,
- Oliva climbs on the couch, and walks on the table,
- I convince Oliva to calm down, and sit on the ground with her to soothe her,
- Oliva takes to my soothing, and snuggles into my arms,
- Badger who loves his new sister, comes in to join us,
- A low scary growl comes out of Oliva, Badger dashes away,
- He lies down on his bed,
- She lies down between the table and the couch,
- I take advantage of this to run off to the store and buy her dog food (I know. Nesting operation: fail.)
- My friend texts me: she lost her keys, needs me to look for them,
- I scour the yard, the alley where Oliva escaped (oh yeah, she can open the gate!)
- I text my friend: no luck, no keys,
- She replies she is on her way to look too,
- I head out to the grocery store, finally, and buy a big bag of Iams and a big box of treats.
- I get home, my friend is there looking for her keys,
- Oliva is on the couch, in the window, and wedged inside the blinds,
- Blah blah blah – my friend gives up her search, heads home keyless and I return to start the calming and soothing all over,
- She growls at Badger,
- Oliva pees again, on the floor, the carpet, Badger’s bed
- Where does she get all that urine???
- I wash Badger’s bed, and put us all to bed: Badger on mine, Oliva on a makeshift bed made of towels and blankets,
- Finally: by 9pm we are asleep.
- 11:30pm Oliva wakes up, and comes to me for more comforting,
- Badger wakes up. Oliva growls, Badger moves away from us.
- I wake up 3 times to use my inhaler, my asthma is out of control,
- I wake up, take both dogs outside and remember Oliva can open the gate, so I tie her up to the brick wall,
- My turn to use the bathroom, suddenly it’s very quiet outside,
- I run out – Oliva has escaped. Again. I chase after her down the street,
- I need to shower, so I cage her in the kitchen with our trap door,
- I come out of the shower, and she has jumped over the trap door, and she has peed. Again.
I tried. And I gave up. Oliva has been neglected for too many years. She is a wild animal, and Badger is stressed out.
She needs so much more than I can give. For starters she needs a home with a properly fenced-in yard. She needs attention. A lot of attention. She needs training. In exchange for all this: her heart. She loves. She loves fully. She has nothing but signs of loyalty and devotion. And she responds so well to “Ven!” Spanish for come here.
* * *
I needed a friend’s beautiful reminder that my heart was in the right place, and that I needed not to forgive myself because I did nothing wrong. I simply realized that what she needed – I couldn’t provide.
As I finish writing these words, this song comes on…