March 20, 2014: Animal Speak

~by Susi Pittman

Animal rescue is a demanding job and those of us who answer “the call” and believe me, it is a calling, (because in this world most of us are too caught up in economics to be sticking our financial necks out for anything more than what is necessary) know that some of the stories will end well and some will not. We accept that, and move forward in dedication to offer humane treatment to some of the Lord’s most desolate little creatures.

A month ago, a beautiful little Beagle wandered upon the property where I live with my daughter Seana and her family. It was a pretty female with red collar, no tag, hungry and thirsty, yet very friendly. Seana enticed her through the gates into our fenced-in backyard with fresh turkey and thus began the process of moving forward to locate the owner.

Calls were made to the local animal shelter in hopes that whoever lost this adorable pup could be reconnected with their pet. Her sweet disposition and happy “tail-wagging” inspired us to call her Sunny for the time being.

It is an unfortunate circumstance to consider, but, most Beagles that end up in shelters and are not adopted are sold off to be used as laboratory animals. Why? Because Beagles are the dogs of choice for laboratory experiments because of their friendly, docile and trusting personalities. Please visit The Beagle Freedom Project for more information on this.

We knew that if the owner did not come forward, that this little dog would be part of our family which at this point included four other dogs and 15 cats. What’s one more?!!

Seana contacted our local animal shelter/animal control center and left specific information with them about the Beagle that only the real owner would know.

It was about three days later when a call came from the shelter that the owner indeed had phoned in and would like to be reunited with their dog, whose named we learned was Chloe. It appeared that they too had rescued this little dog from a bad situation. She had shown up on their property less than a year earlier, pregnant and thin and in need of medical attention. They took her in and gave her the best care and lots of love.

However, Chloe had a bad habit that became impossible to control. Chloe was a genius doggy escape artist. She loved to roam and refused to be fenced or contained, (something we would soon learn) and would make her rounds of the surrounding properties each day while her owners were at work.

Arrangements were made for the owner, Bob and his wife, Cindy to stop by and pick Chloe up the next evening.

Bob and his Cindy were a delightful couple who owned a large piece of land with horses and a pet menagerie of their own. Seana was waiting outside with Chloe, standing by the barn for Bob’s arrival. When Chloe saw the truck, her ears perked right up and her white-tipped “happy” tail began wagging vigorously. What a grand reunion! Laughter and doggie-licks and lots of petting as everyone made introductions.

After the cordialities, Bob’s face became serious and he told Seana he had a serious question to ask her. He said, Seana, we just can’t keep her the way she needs to be kept. We worry about her everyday and hope that she makes it home every night. And seeing how happy Chloe is with you and your children, we were wondering if you might consider taking her in…I mean, if you can’t we understand and we will keep her. But, she just deserves a family that will be company to her all the time, not just some of the time. Like mother, like daughter, and of course Seana said yes.

Discussion soon fell as to how Chloe could have ended up 24-miles away from home in just two days. Bob wasn’t sure at the time, but, we all came to learn that one of Bob’s nearby neighbors who did not like Chloe’s visitations, carried her off and dumped her close to our highway. He had removed her identity tag so that no one would call her owners. The rest was by divine design that she found our home.

So, Chloe became part of our family. Bob had asked for visitation permission to stop in and see Chloe and visit us. Our family was thrilled to expand yet a little bit more, especially because Bob and Cindy were such wonderful folks.

Two days had passed when Bob stopped by to drop off Chloe’s bed, toys, food medications and supplies. What a nice bonus to receive. Chloe was melding with the family and had an especially great relationship with Pistol, Seana’s adopted Boston terrier mix, chasing squirrels up trees and sparring for toys. But, her new best friend was my Dalmatian, Buddy. Bud and Chloe had their “hound” lineage in common and just hit it off like big brother, little sister.

And then, the next day, it happened.

Seana and I were in the fenced-in back yard with all the dogs exercising and taking care of their doggie business when, under a very small gap the fence went Chloe and off she ran. We were stunned. Springing into action, Seana and I took off running on foot to get her, but, to her it was a game…catch me if you can. She would stop and sniff and wait for you, then take off running, tail high in the air. It was a cat and mouse game with both of us missing her by inches.

I could hear the approach of loud motorcycle and Chloe took off towards the side of the road with Seana and I screaming for her to stop. The loud sound had scared her and all she wanted to do was get away.  I could see it was going to be impossible to reach her, so I made a quick turn to get out in front of the motorcycle and do my best to flag him to a stop. He did.

But Chloe was now extremely panicked and was gone, running a blue streak down the road and into the woods with her tail between her legs, headed to a busy intersection about ½ mile away.

We raced back to the house and got in two cars to catch up to her in hopes of corralling her safely. As we pulled off the road, other motorist could see that we were trying to catch her and they too pulled over to aid in the chase. It was 20-minutes of back and forth, and we could see that Chloe wasn’t going to trust anyone. Seana’s last desperate attempts had failed with her lunging at Chloe and missing her, rolling into a shallow ditch in tears.

There was only one thing I thought could possibly help now. I jumped back into my car and drove swiftly back home and rallied my Dalmatian Buddy into the back seat. Off we went back to the area where Chloe was scared and roaming.

Buddy and I got within eyesight of Chloe. Buddy stood at attention, catching sight of Chloe and sensing her distress. I knelt down and called out to her. She turned around and seeing Buddy, her ears perked forward and her head tilted as if she were listening to something. She made a bee-line straight for her big brother. It was in that moment that ANIMAL SPEAK occurred. I have witnessed it before. It is powerful and unheard, a communication on an unseen level that only the animals hear and understand, an orchestration of the Master’s providence. In what seemed like an instant Chloe was in front of Buddy and my hand grasped her red collar.

Amid cheers and handshakes and the kind well-wishing of total strangers, Chloe was safe and Buddy was a hero.

Today, following intensive training from Seana in dog obedience, Chloe is a much calmer and purposed pup. Chloe and Seana have a special relationship which is evidenced in the love and joy they share when they are together. Chloe never leaves Seana’s side. All perimeters of the fencing have been checked and corrected, thus insuring no more accidents. Chloe now sleeps between Seana and her husband Dave (a true prince of a man) each night, and enjoys the love and attention she receives from Seana’s three very energetic children.

ANIMAL SPEAK…thank you Jesus for that which we cannot hear, but believe. There is perfection in all of Your works.

Susi Pittman is founder of and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.
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