I’m an equal opportunities pagan – I have my own Gods but am happy to work with others as and when the need arises. I firmly believe in the right of everyone to believe what they want to believe, provided they do not try and inflict their beliefs on others.
I’ve never been drawn to the Norse mythology or Gods but sometimes I think that Loki has a good hand in the events in my life. Loki is a trickster. Perhaps there are parallels. In animal symbolism, cats and foxes are tricksters too. I have both in my life. Allegedly, tricksters teach lessons.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me why I didn’t “do dogs”. I explained that the reason I didn’t rescue dogs was because everyone knows me as the cat lady, so I just don’t get dog calls. At least, I hope this was what they were asking (rather than the more insalubrious interpretation).
Given the trickster, I should have expected the call. I didn’t and when it came I realised how unprepared and un-setup I am to “do dogs”. The call came via a work colleague. Could I help find a home for a dog on death row at a shelter? The shelter turned out to be a kennel and this is where this got complicated. The owner of the kennel didn’t want the dog to die. She had been told to euthanase it by Monday because the dog had (i) growled at another dog and (ii) chewed her bed when she first came in. If you know that she was removed from a small flat, along with a number of other animals (more than 20) and that she was highly stressed, you can understand her behaviour. Or at least you would hope so. The person calling the shots (and from whose budget the shelter fees were coming) instead believed the dog to be unrehomable.
She was partially right. The dog was a Staffordshire bull terrier, the type morons in this country breed and sell because the puppies sell for such high amounts, bought by people who want to look big and for street cred and of course, for fighting.
Second-hand staffs are a dime a dozen and are being put down in huge numbers across the UK. The reason for this is two-fold. Most people who buy staffies like pups. This is because they can be used for breeding and of course, unneutered males can be used effectively for fighting.
Secondly, a staffie who has come out of an unsuitable environment can be aggressive. The clue is in the name – they were originally bred for fighting bulls. If a staffie is trained properly and treated decently, they are normally great animals. When they are not, they can be volatile and dangerous. So they are not sought after by people wanting to home a rescue, especially if they have other animals or children.
The owner of the kennel was desperate – desperate not to get into trouble for raising the issue of the dog and desperate to let me know that the dog was fine, had not done anything bad in the months following her admittance, that she loved walkies and people and despite only being 6 years old, had had such a poor life so far, she was greying round the muzzle. She just needed a decent home with an understanding owner who would spend time with her and love her.
I am not keen on staffies, for all the above reasons. And also because years and years ago, another type of bull terrier living across the road had jumped over a fence and tried to tear my dog’s throat out. The fact that he did not succeed was only down to swift intervention of my parents and other neighbours, some of whom had already seen the dog attack other animals in the area.
However, I was touched by the story. As M said, “you know that she is one of so many dogs being put down. You have to live with this. But when you hear about an individual dog, it becomes personal and therefore unacceptable”. She is right. Moreover, the dog had my grandmother’s name. I live in the house my grandmother lived and died in and she exists for me still in a number of ways. I couldn’t let the dog go.
So we tried. We tried everyone we could think of and when that failed, we tried to get her into every rescue home in the area. My colleague called over 40 in an evening. No way was a rescue home going to take her.
T, my colleague and I, stressed and fretted and looked at each other and took a breath and tried again. M contacted everyone she knew. V, who is a mutual friend, sent over all the info she had on no-kill shelters and sanctuaries. We called them all.
And as it got closer and closer to Monday, we knew we were going to fail. I hate failure. I hate it especially when it ends in an animal’s death.
If the animal had been a cat, it would have simply come home. But a dog I can’t have – staffies and cats generally do not mix, I haven’t got the space, nor the time to walk a dog which needs a great deal of exercise.
Then it all got even more confusing …
On Friday afternoon, we were told that my colleague’s (call her T) neighbour’s (call her B) friend (call her C) was going to take her. I spoke to the kennel owner who said that this was being discussed but that the lady (B) had an elderly dog and she wasn’t sure about it.
A lady (call her F) who works with us asked about the dog and I explained the situation. She said she’d spoken to her husband and they had agreed that they couldn’t let this dog die and would by happy to try fostering her.
That evening, we discovered that C had decided against it. So I rang F, gave her the kennel’s number and told her to contact them directly.
That evening, C called B and said the reason she’d decided not to take the dog as it didn’t get on with other dogs. T rang F and told her, as she did have another dog. T then rang me. Predictably, I went mad. Especially as this wasn’t the first time that B had given us duff information. So T rang the F and told her what I suggested – that she would speak to the owner of the kennel (who had told me categorically that the dog got on with all others apart from the one she had growled at) and decide for herself.
This afternoon (Saturday), Millie was collected by F and taken home. My colleague and I are in pieces but very happy. We still have to find Millie a permanent home but for now, she is safe.
Apparently, I do “do dogs” after all. Cheers Loki!