Hope for Hope
*Guest post by Landra, originally featured on Confessions of Animal Junkie*
I define hope as a feeling associated with longing for something more than what is already provided or present. When an adult female dachshund got delivered to the pound covered in feces, fleas, and filth, I and my fellow rescue directors believed it would take a miracle for us to save this poor soul – thus she was named Hope.
Hope’s original home was a cesspool. In fact the Animal Control Officer at the time commented that when he walked out of the home after picking up the dog he threw up, the first and only time he experienced such a reaction during a pickup call. Our rescue president, Lora, was called to the pound, as our rescue is the only one operating in the immediate area, and the ACO thought Hope was beyond saving. In a split-second decision, Lora decided to admit Hope to our rescue and get her to a vet.
She was absolutely covered in nastiness to the point that her coat was black. The pictures of her in the pound clearly do not demonstrate the severity of her condition, but it was BAD. No one was allowed to touch her with bare hands as Lora couldn’t make heads or tails of it, almost thinking it was the worst case of sarcoptic mange a dog could have. For those who are not aware, sarcoptic mange is an extremely contagious form of mange, and is even contagious to humans. In Homo sapiens, sarcoptic mange is referred to as scabies.
The next day Lora transported Hope to the vet. Hope remained at the vet for a week. Within 24 hours, we were told by the vet that the black spots covering her coat were fleas. Our hope, pun intended, renewed at the idea she would survive. Lora received the pleasure of taking Hope home and the first night was incredibly rough. Lora found that Hope’s coat was increasingly unappealing in sight and smell. The vet encouraged her to refrain from bathing Hope, as she’d been given Advantix as a treatment against the fleas. Unfortunately the smell over took and bathing became necessary. Lora recounted to me that her bath reduced the water to black, all fleas combined with gunk. Hope’s skin was black and when Lora dried her off with a towel her skin just peeled away. Thankfully and unfortunately (from the learning angle) I don’t have any pictures. The bath didn’t damage the flea treatment luckily and Hope began to flourish within a few weeks. We couldn’t wait to get her to a pet fair and in front of potential loving adopters.
Then another bomb got dropped: Hope was 13 years old. She didn’t act that old, and there were many pictures and stories of her running and playing. The reason this was a bomb is because, let’s face it, who wants a dog that’s near the end of her life? Very few. Adoption events, flyers, and even personal pleas for someone to offer Hope a home went without success. Our group even tried to find another foster willing to care for a senior dog. At the same time, I and the other directors agonized over asking someone to take in a dog and basically turn their humble abode into a nursing home. I wouldn’t wish that heartache on anyone, and neither would anyone in our rescue. We all understood the hardships that would and could come from being a foster in this position. Heck, we’re experiencing it.
Senior rescues were another option, but our rescue coordinator quickly discovered that senior rescues are few and far between. In addition, she discovered other horrifying stats that quickly made me realize how lucky Hope truly was, since we didn’t know her age when we removed her from the pound. To quote the Senior Dogs Project website, “Senior dogs are at the top of the euthanasia list when they are taken into most shelters….a senior dog frequently requires a longer time to find a new home because most people who visit shelters are looking for puppies or young dogs.”
The end to this story is sad and happy. Hope is still with us, and thriving. She lives with Lora, who gives her oodles of love and care. Due to her previous living circumstances/genetics/fleas/age, Hope now has severe skin allergies and requires daily medication. She’s also been prone to random epileptic seizures, though these are few and far between. Regardless of the challenges her age presents, we still hope that our angel will find a forever home and someone to love her as much as we do.
Update: Hope was adopted by a wonderful family in December of 2011. We’re extremely happy that Hope finally found a forever home, even though it was tough to part with such a sweetie!