The woman broke into tears as she asked if we could help. She lost her job after the Joplin tornado last year. Over the summer she had begun to have seizures. They had gotten progressively more severe and frequent to the point that she was to undergo surgery in an attempt to make them stop. In December, a neglected looking, starving cocker mix timidly wandered into her garage, with a broken rope dangling from her neck. She gave the dog a blanket and some food and water. The weather was terribly cold and though she knew she was at her limit, having four dogs of her own, she couldn't bring herself to turn this frightened little dog back out in the cold. On Christmas Eve, this bedraggled little dog gave birth to eight puppies in this woman's garage. The woman brought the mama and babies into her home, fearing it was just too cold for them to survive out in her garage. Four weeks later, this woman is facing brain surgery. Her family committed to care for her own four dogs but would not agree to the task of caring for and finding homes for a stray mother dog nursing eight puppies. The family said she must get rid of the mother dog and puppies before being admitted to the hospital. When she called, she had two days left to find a solution. She had called all the local resources she could find. No one would take the little family to whom she had grown so attached. She explained that the mother dog was a beautiful little dog with a coat almost the color of an Irish Setter. She had the look of a Cocker Spaniel with shorter hair. The world had not been kind to her because it took weeks of coaxing before she stopped shrinking and cowering back when any human hand reached out to touch her. It was breaking this woman's heart to think of all the time and care she had given these sweet things, only to have them all be euthanized. Her voice broke again as she said she was especially worried about Rainbow, the mother dog. She was so terribly shy and skittish that she feared no one would give her the time to adjust and build trust before labeling her "un-adoptable". She said all eight puppies were variation of the red and blonde theme and absolutely adorable. Life seemed to be caving in all around this woman and the plight of these little helpless dogs was just about to put her over the edge. My heart hurt for her. If at all possible, I wanted to offer one small bit of help, comfort and peace of mind for this woman, in an otherwise very dark and frightening time, as she faced a serious surgery, long recovery and many unknowns on the other side.
A generous and energetic volunteer offered to take eight four week old puppies. (Yes, I questioned her sanity.) It was an emotional good-bye as we loaded Rainbow and her puppies into the car, but also a huge expression of gratitude and relief from a lady who had not had many things go right lately. I promised her we would make sure they ALL got good homes, including Rainbow. (On the inside, I was hoping I could keep that promise.) Rainbow needed some extra medical care and nutrition for an advanced infection, so at the advice of our veterinarian, we weaned the puppies.
The puppies were Cocker/Golden retriever, TV commercial adorable. At eight weeks, five out of eight are already in forever homes as I write this column. Rainbow had suffered at the hands of man, so she looked to be quite a "project". Thankfully, she received all that she needed and more from another one of our amazing "foster moms". All Rainbow needed was constant love, reassurance and security, (don't we all?), to live up to the beauty of her name. When I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God, the faithful promise-keeper, who inspires me to try to live the same way. I am glad God keeps His promise to not give up on me and I am glad we didn't give up on our beautiful Rainbow too.