Warning--there are a couple of graphic pictures in this post... but I promise it has a happy ending! Italics represent Boone's 'thoughts' and regular type would be mine.
I still don't know how it happened. It was just another day of me being a rambunctious half grown puppy, then all of sudden, I was all by myself in the middle of nowhere. I mean nowhere, just a stream, rocks and trees, and me. I was scared, but I figured They would come back for me soon. So I played. I jumped in the water, and I chased imaginary fish. I dug in the leaves and splashed in the water. And I waited. I ran and I napped. And I waited. I waited so long. I tried to be a good boy. The sky got dark and got light many, many times. I was hungry and lonely. I would hear cars and I would run and look, but they just drove by me. Finally I started walking along the road. I wanted to stay and wait where They left me so They would find me when They came back, but I was so hungry. I got in trouble pretty quick when I went walking. There was a pack of dogs at one house and they tried to attack me. I fought my way through them, but there were so many and I wasn't very strong. Finally I just ran and ran. Now I knew I couldn't go back and wait for my People anymore. I saw another house and I went to ask for some food. People had always been good to me. Nobody ever hurt me, even if they did leave me on my own alot. I knew these people would help me. I was so shocked when they started screaming and ran from me! I didn't know what to do. Was this a new game? Then suddenly one of them had a long stick and pointed it at me. I just stood there wondering what was wrong. What did I do? The stick made a loud bang and I jumped. It banged again, and I felt an awful pain in my shoulder. I ran. I didn't stop running for a long time. I didn't understand anything anymore. I was so tired and hungry. Finally I found a place besides the road. There was tall grass I could lay in and watch for Their car in case it came. One day I was in the road and a car came roaring by. I tried to jump out of the way but I was feeling sick and slow. The car caught me on the shoulder and threw me in the ditch. I didn't get up for a long time. I wondered if I would ever get up, but finally I shakily stood up. I limped to my bed of grass and slowly collapsed with a painful sigh. I could barely remember the days when I was healthy and happy and my tummy was full. Now I was weak, covered with sores and wounds and most of my hair was gone. I didn't think it would be many more days before I closed my eyes the final time and I didn't care anymore.Somehow though I kept getting up and looking around for food. More days and nights passed. Some person would stop once in awhile and leave me a bite to eat and some water, but they didn't wait for me to come up to them, before they drove off. Then one day when I was almost done in, it happened. I was out in the road again, nosing around in the mud, looking for something to fill my belly. I heard a car coming and I moved over to the edge of the road and tried to pretend like I wasn't there. It was a truck and it slowed way down and then stopped. I rolled my eyes up and looked at the shocked face looking out the window. We stared at each other for minutes. Then she pulled off the road and just sat there. Finally she got out and poured a bunch of catfood in a pile in the ditch. I came slowly toward her, trying to look friendly and happy, but I couldn't manage much. She was talking, but I couldn't understand. Then she got back in the truck and left. No. Please.I hadn't planned on going to town that January day, but something came up that I needed. I couldn't even tell you what now. On the way home, I came over a hill and started down into a long valley. Up ahead I saw what I thought was a young red Angus calf loose in the road, so I slowed down. At a crawl I pulled up even with the animal and got a good look at it. To my horror I was looking at a half starved big red dog. I had never seen an animal so skinny, so abject in my life. His back was arched from malnutrition. He had big raw sores on his chest and face. Much of his hair was gone and later I would find little sores all over him. My truck was crammed with groceries and other flotsam and jetsam of shopping. I didn't know what to do. To my everlasting shame I did not want to become involved with this big animal. I already had two dogs, and well, this boy was just scary looking, especially when you are used to pointy nosed, shaggy collies. I quickly found something for him to eat and poured out a huge pile of catfood. I did not know what was wrong with him, and he looked so desperate. I got in my truck and drove off. I cried all the way home. I was sick. It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. I didn't get very far before I knew I wasn't going to be able to forget this dog and leave him. I got home and tried to think of what to do. How would I load him in the truck? Did he bite? Finally I called my folks and a short time later my Dad called back and said he would go with me and we could get him. We took their van as it sits much lower to the ground and he could ride in the back.I felt so defeated. I tried to eat some of the catfood, but I didn't each much before I went and curled up in the grass. I was so tired. I was ready. I didn't want to get up anymore. I sighed and big watery drops leaked out the corners of my eyes, as I curled into a tight ball.
When we drove by where the dog was, I didn't see him anywhere. I was even more heartsick, if that could be. We drove on and turned around and drove back down into the hollow. Then there---a brown face popped up from the grass. There he was! Would he run? Would he protest being caught, loaded? I had an old collar and some rope. Dad carefully put the collar around his neck while the dog stood there patiently. He didn't know about walking on a leash, so Dad ended up carrying him. He was quickly stowed in the back and we were on our way home. The stench from his infected body quickly filled the van.
I saw a van drive by slowly. I didn't even bother to raise my head. Pretty soon it came back, even more slowly and I couldn't help it--I raised my head up just a little. Maybe.... The van stopped. Two people got out. I just laid there. As they got closer I recognized the one as the person who stopped and gave me some catfood. As they came closer, I painfully sat up and watched them. They talked quietly and sounded friendly. I was too tired and worn to care anymore. Soon they had a stiff thing around my neck and the one person gently picked me up and put me in the back of the van. I was getting worried. I wrinkled my brows and rolled my eyes around trying to figure this out. We didn't drive very far before we stopped. I thought, well this is where I get off, but they didn't let me out. I sat in the van and looked sadly out the window as they scurried around. I didn't know what was going on or what they were going to do to me.
Once we got him to my house, I had to quickly come up with a 'plan'. I didn't want to expose my two collie girls to any potentially harmful disease since the poor fellow looked like a walking infection factory. I was also pretty sure that he had a severe case of mange, but was unsure which kind. He was in such bad condition I felt like he wouldn't be trying to escape, but I still wanted a secure pen for him. I hurriedly came up with a plan of several cattle panels wired together in the garage. This way he would be in a pen where he could move around freely and be in the covered garage. Once the pen was up, I put a huge pile of hay in one corner and laid an old blanket over it. Now to get the dog out of the van.They came for me. I was scared and worried. I didn't want to get out, but I finally did. After we were several feet from the van the back lid fell down and banged and it really scared me. I jumped and ran a little and looked for the long stick. The person told me it would be okay, that I was okay. She took me over to a building and opened up a little pen for me. She led me in there and showed me a pile of straw with a blanket. And some warm food. And water. I wrinkled my brows some more. I wouldn't look up at her, I was so ashamed and scared that it all would be taken away from me. Finally I stepped up on the pile of straw, and I lay down. I sighed, I rolled my eyes, and I lay on my side, and stretched out. I wagged my tail just a little to show her how very happy I was. Then I closed my eyes, and I felt hope in my heart. Maybe things were going to be okay now. Just maybe.Once I convinced the sad dog that the bed was his he climbed on it, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. You could see his tense pain filled body finally relax. He didn't move much for about three days. He would get up and eat, potty and when I made him, walk around a little. Mostly he would just lay there, and wag his tail. It took him several days before he would even look up at me. After a trip to the vet, he was wormed, and started on antibiotics and treatment for demodectic mange. It took months for him to be where he should, but he rapidly improved and gained weight. After about a week and half, the sadness rolled off his shoulders and he began to be the happy go lucky dog he was meant to be. It took about a year for him to completely overcome everything. The mange cleared up within about 5 months, but he had reoccurring infections in his shoulder wounds, and finally had to endure exploratory surgery. After that he healed up and hasn't looked back. Sometimes when its cold he still limps on that side, but once he is limbered up he is fine. Boone is a unique dog--unlike any I've ever had the pleasure of being owned by. We've had our differences of opinion but he has taught me much--in doggie psychology and patience! He is big, goofy and stubborn, but his love of life brings such a smile to my face. Sometimes I look at his picture of that first day he was here, and I can't even believe that is him and that he endured so much. He has almost doubled his weight, loves everybody and doesn't think badly of any one. He does get concerned when he hears loud vehicles, shots or sees someone wearing a hat. While I will never know just what he did go through during his period of abandonment, I can guess. I have pieced together just a little of it, from things I've heard and saw.
This isn't exactly a Christmas story, but perhaps in a way it is. Because Christmas is much about love and caring for others. I sometimes think of him out there, trying to live on his own, and know that during Christmas he was well on his way to starving to death. You could title this story--The Year Christmas Came Late---and I think both Boone and I would both agree.
So here is to you and yours--Merry Christmas from Boone and all of us here at Fairlight Farm.
When saw we thee hungry?...When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in?......And the King shall answer and say unto them..inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.... Matt 25:37--40 (paraphrased) From the Lord who knows when a sparrow falls.....