Interview at the Dog Pound, Part II
It had been two weeks since I visited the local dog pound and its denizen. the story, not surprisingly, had attracted a lot of attention from rescue groups in the area. They were pleased someone from the city paper had taken the time to write a story on why dogs end up in the pound. It was hoped it might raise some awareness.
I found my mind wandering back to that sad place time and again. I wondered how feisty little Patsy was, and if she had been adopted yet. I also worried for Popper, the young Border Collie. I was deeply troubled in my spirit.
As I sat staring blankly at my computor screen, trying to concentrate on another story, I felt the familiar warmth of a little chin resting on my knee.
" Hi Sweetie." I stroked the soft fur of my own dog, Sophie. She always knew when I was upset. They all seem to just know. There was then a gentle nudge of my arm on the opposite side as my other dog, Banner, veid for my affections. Border Collies, both of them.
" I have to go back, " I said, looking into Sophie's intelligent eyes. " I have to know."
Return to the Pound
Once again, I found myself in that foul smelling kennel area. No matter how many times you clean a place like this, the stench is always there. It must be hell for dogs, having such a keen sense of smell.
Pete's old kennel had a new tenant, some sort of Labrador mix. She was black with small white markings on her chest and paws. There was a food dish in the corner, the kibble untouched by the look of it. She lay on her side, whining. I could see she had recently had pups by the swollen teats. Poor girl.
I moved past the Lab, to Spartan's old kennel. Empty. Good! I held my breath as I approached Popper's kennel, hoping beyond hope that he had been adopted. I was not prepared for what I saw. This once proud, handsome young Border Collie was now a quivering mass in the corner of his kennel. He glanced up at me briefly, a flicker of recognition in his eyes, then he begun to cough violently. His tail was tucked tightly between his shaking legs.
" Oh Popper!" I cried. " What has happened to you?" Popper simply cowered into the corner, shrinking away from my voice.
" It's his breed," a familiar voice spoke from behind. " they're too sensitive. The noise and smells drive them crazy. Intelligent fellows like him can't take the long hours of boredom and lack of companionship." I turned around to see my little friend Patsy, the Jack Russell Terrier. I peered through her kennel gate.
" Ah Patsy," I shook my head. " I had hoped you would have found a nice home."
" I did," Patsy replied. " Well, at least I thought I did. The day you came here, someone came in and chose me. It turned out the same ... another person who wanted a cut little dog, but not the work it takes to keep them happy. She brought me back just three days later, tired of my constant playing and running about, bouncing off the furniture." Patsy stood on her hind legs, resting her little paws on the gate." But guess what? A man and a little girl came here yesterday, they smelled VERY good too! They petted me, and played with me. Then they threw a ball for me. I brought it right back to them like a good dog!" Patsy was becoming very excited. Her stubby little tail wagged rapidly back and forth, making me grin. " They kept talking about something called flyball ! The man said they were going to go talk to someone named Mom, and maybe they would come back."
I smiled. Maybe they would come back. In the meantime, I had some questions for Patsy. " What has happened in here since my last visit?" She dropped back down onto her haunches, and became sullen.
" I hate this place," she said. " That Lab down there?" I nodded. " Well, she came in with ten puppies. Someone just dumped them all like garbage at the front door. That was last week. Five days ago, some of her young became very, very ill. I remember smelling the sickness ... the smell of blood. The workers came in, they called the sickness Parvo. They were very agitated. Six of her young died, the other four went behind the steel door." Patsy shuddered. " She has been mourning since, and will not eat."
" Lord have mercy," I whispered.
" That's not all," she said. " the disease has run through the kennel, and others have gone behind the steel door. I suppose I was lucky, I was vaccinated. So was Popper, but he has The Cough." As if on cue, Popper once again was seized by a coughing fit behind us.
" I have to get out of here," Patsy wailed. " I am so frightened!" Once again I was questioning the logic of my return to this God forsaken olace.
" Oh Patsy," I opened the door to here kennel and picked her up in my arms, cuddling her close. I could feel her trembling.
" You smell different," she said suddenly stopping and sniffing me. " You ...smell...like one of ...THEM."
" Them?" I asked.
" A Rescuer!" She sniffed me once more, her little tail wagging rapidly. Just then, the door to the kennel room opened, and a pound worker and a man with a little girl came in. The little girl rushed toward Patsy's kennel, but stopped abruptly when she saw me holding her.
" Oh no!" she wailed. " You aren't taking my dog are you?" I quickly put Patsy into her waiting arms, and said " No young lady, she is all yours! But take very good care of her, she is one special little dog."
" Yay! Daddy look!" she squealed as Patsy planted little dog kisses all over her cheeks.
" Daddy, is she really mine?"
" Yes Honey, she is really yours," her father beamed. The worker instructed them to be sure to bleach the bottoms of their shoes as they left, and I saw a brilliant sparkle in Patsy's eyes as she looked at me over the shoulder of her new little master. This time, I was certain, it would be okay ... at least for this one little dog.
As I left the building, and the many sad and despairing dogs it held, I could not help but wonder how anyone with a heart could abandon their beloved and devoted pet. Ignorance and selfishness are the cause of so much grief. These amazing animals give humans their whole hearts. They serve them, protect them, and give themunconditional love regardless of how they are treated. Their capacity for forgiveness is something I will never comprehend ..and yet they are so often treated like trash by the very ones they trust. Their loyalty is repaid with blind indifference.
Opening the door to my car, I wiped a tear from my cheek, and looked down. " Patsy isn't the only dog who will find out what flyball is, right Popper?" Popper looked up at me, a glimmer of hope returning to his glazed eyes, his tail wagging slightly between his legs. I knelt down, cupped his sweet little face in my hands, and looked him in the eyes. " It's off to the vet with you, and then when you are well, you are going to meet your new brother and sister."
This is a work of fiction, and as such, I have chosen to end it on a happy note. I truly wish all pound stories ended in such a manner, but sadly, this is not the case. For most animals, the story ends quite differently. According to the Humane Society in the USA, THIRTY EIGHT ANIMALS PER MINUTE are put to death for no other reason than THEY EXIST. Responsibility begins with YOU.
Copyright Sally Hull 2006
Please contact for permission to post or print this story.
Published: 25 January 2009
Last Updated: 27 January 2009
Interview at the Dog Pound
Interview at the Dog Pound written by Sally Hull
As a journalist, I decided to go to the dog pound, and interview some of the " inmates". I wanted to know what it was like in there from their perspective. What follows is not for the faint of heart.
I entered the building, and one of the workers accompanied me to the holding area.This is where dogs are kept before they are allowed up for adoption ...If they are allowed up for adoption. If the dogs are found to be aggressive in any way, euthanasia is employed. Fortunately, if " fortunately" is the word to be used here...this is a Canadian establishment, and they use lethal injection, not a gas chamber.
The pound worker led me past a big steel door that says "Employees Only". " What is in there? " I asked. From the look he gave me, I knew that this is where some dogs go, and never return.
We moved on to a row of kennels. The dogs were barking loudly, there was the acrid smell of urine and feces, and a feeling of despair seemed to permeate the room. " Go ahead," the worker said. " They're all yours."
I looked into the first kennel, and saw only the back of a medium sized dog who was curled up in the corner of his kennel, shivering. He was mostly white, with some black spots. " Hello?" I said. " May I come in?" He lifted his head, as though it weighed more than he could bear. When he looked at me, I could see he was a Pit Bull. His eyes were gentle, but filled with grief. " Enter, " was all he said.
I stepped in, closing the gate behind me. He put his head back down, facing away from me. I crouched down a few feet away.
" My name is Pete. Petey my Master called me," he said, still not looking at me.
" Why are you here Pete?" I asked.
" I am here because Master cannot afford to move to another province. I am here because someone with power said I am vicious, and a killer. Someone who never met me. Master took me for a walk one day, and some lady started to scream when she saw me. I got frightened, and barked at her. The dog police came, and they took me away. I have been with Master for 10 years. The last time I saw him, he just held me and cried. He kept telling me he was sorry. I worry for him. Whatever will he do without me ? " Pete shivered even more. A tear slid down my face. I am supposed to remain objective, but this was wrong ... so wrong.
" Thank you Pete." I said. He said nothing as I got up and left his kennel.
The kennel next to Pete's held a very young looking dog. Pure Border Collie by my guess. He stood on his hind legs, looking at me through the gate.
" Hello. My name's Popper. He tilted his head. " Are you here to take me home?"
" No, I'm sorry," I replied. " But I would like to talk with you."
" Sure. What would you like to talk about?"
" Popper, how did you come to be in this place?" I asked.
Popper dropped down from the gate, with a perplexed look on his face. He walked to the back of the kennel, then back to the front. I noticed he had one blue eye, and one brown. He was quite beautiful. His black and white coat was shiny and thick.
" I am not certain WHY I am here. I think maybe my family will come back for me. They bought me when I was only 6 weeks old. I remember they said how intelligent Border Collies are, and how it would be so easy to train me. they were very excited at first. The little ones played with me all the time. But the trouble is with little Masters, they refuse to stay in a group. I constantly had to nip their heels to keep them together." He looked confused. " Why won't they stay in a group?" he sighed. " So I did what I thought I should do. I am not quite sure why the little ones screamed when I did my job, but they did , and the Masters got very angry at me. They also got angry when I had to relieve myself, and did so in the house. I am not sure where they expected me to go. All they said was that I was the smartest breed in the world, and I should just KNOW better. Then they left me in the yard for a month or so. I got bored a lot, and I dug holes in the grass. The next thing I knew, the Masters brought me here."
Popper jumped back up on the gate, his white paws protruding through the links. He looked at me with his lovely eyes, and asked " Will you please let them know I want to come home? Please tell them I promise I will be good."
" I will Popper," I said.
My heart was breaking. I was beginning to regret coming here, but their stories had to be told. I moved along. The next dog I saw looked to be easily 100 lbs.,a Rottweiler. He was handsome indeed, except for the scars on his face and back. He tilted his head, and looked me right in the eyes.
" Hello. Who are you?" he asked.
" I am a reporter," I replied. "May I speak with you for a little while?"
" Most certainly. My name is Spartan. You can come in, I won't bite," he said.
" Thank you Spartan. I will."
I entered his kennel, reached out and stroked his giant head. He made a loud grumbling noise, and closed his eyes.
" Spartan, why are you here?"
Before he could answer my question, he was suddenly in the grip of a nasty coughing spasm. It sounded painful.
" Please excuse me," he said when it passed. " Kennel cough. It seems all of us who come in here get it." " Why am I here? Well, about two years ago, I was born in the backyard of some person I can't even recall. I had 11 brothers and sisters. I recall a day when a big man came and gave that person some money, and took me away from my mother. They had to chain her up, as she was very angry that he took me. They chained her and beat her. I came to know the man by the name of Jim. I overheard him telling his friends that I would grow up to be big and mean like my mother. But as I grew older, all I wanted to do was play and be friends with everybody. Jim said I needed to be taught how to be mean, so he chained me up in the yard. No more house for me, he said, I was too spoiled. When people came by to visit, I was so happy to see them. I wanted them to come near, I would roll onto my back so he would know I wasn't a bad dog. That made him beat me more." spartan's eyes clouded with grief. " Then he brought me here."
I reached out and stroked Spatan's massive gentle head once more. " I am sorry Spartan. some people are just plain evil." I gave him a kiss and left his kennel. as I walked away, Spartan called out, " What will happen to me, nice lady?"
I shook my head. " I can't say Spartan. Maybe someone kind will come and get you. We can only hope."
I walked a little further down. I could see a shape moving at the back of the next kennel. ' Hello?" I called out. Suddenly the shape lunged at the gate in a fury, barking and gnashing its teeth. I stumbled backwards, and crashed into an adjacent kennel. The other dogs began barking loudly and jumping at their gates.
" Don't go near her, " a small female voice came from behind me. " She's mad."
I gathered myself back together, and saw a little brown and white Jack Russell terrier behind me.
" Thanks for the warning," I was stilltrembling. across the way, the other dog, apparently a Husky and German Shephard cross, was glaring at me, lips curled back revealing brown stained teeth. Her ribs and hips showed through her dull, matted grey coat. The little dog invited me into her kennel, and I gladly went in.
" Who are you?"
" My name is Patsy." the little brown and white dog held a paw up in greeting.
" My owner surrendered me. She said she wanted a cute little dog like the one on the TV show, Frasier. She didn't bother to look into the type of dog I am." Pasty heaved a sigh. " I suppose she expected me to just lie about and only need a short walk each day, just like Eddie, but my energy was so high that I needed to run and play." She glanced at her surroundings. " Now I am here. I suppose it could be worse. I could be like .... her." Patsy looked towards the still growling dog across the way.
" What happened to make her so vicious?" I asked.
" From what we could gather," she replied. " She was found tied in a backyard. She only had a three foot chain. Some days there was no water. Rarely was there any food. One day a nice neighbour came by and brought her some meat. By then it was too late. She was already mad. She broke off her chain, and bit the poor man badly. We know she will be going behind the steel door. I am sad to say, I think it will be best. Perhaps then she will know some peace."
Just then, the door at the end of the building opened, and a woman stepped inside. All the dogs began to bark wildly, then one by one, they went quiet. I whispered tp Patsy, " Who is that? Why have all the dogs gone quiet?"
Patsy breathed deeply through her little nose, and closed her eyes. " SHE is a Rescuer. Can't you smell it?" she asked.
" Smell what?" I was confused.
" Compassion. Love. Sorrow. It emanates from her pores. She is here for one of us, but nobody knows who just yet." Patsy looked hopeful.
The Rescuer moved from kennel to kennel, looking at each dog. I sat quietly watching. I could see tears in her eyes as she made eye contact with each one. She stopped at Spartan's cage and spoke quietly to him.
" No more beatings my man. No more. You are coming with me. From here on in, it's all going to get better." The Rescuer produced a leash, opened the kennel door, and took Spartan away. As he walked beside her, his little stubby tail wagged with delight. Patsy sighed again. I could see the disappointment in her eyes, and it grieved me. They all had the same look, as they watched The Rescuer depart.
" I am so sorry Patsy," I said in a whisper. " But you are a little dog, and everyone loves little dogs. I am convinced you will be rescued soon." Patsy's brown eyes twinkled at me, a little bit of hope returning.
I had heard and seen enough. I needed to tell people how it was for these unfortunate creatures. They were all here through no fault of their own. I stood to leave. I passed by many other dogs I did not interview, looking at each one, wishing I could take them all home with me and give them the love they deserved.
I stood by the door taking one last glance back, when it opene, and one of the pound workers came in. His face was drawn and sad. He walked by without a word, and stopped at Pete's kennel. I heard him take a deep breath, then he paused, and opened the kennel door. The words were muffled, but I am sure I heard him say," I'm sorry old boy." He came out, with Petey in tow. The old dog's head hung down in resignation, and they both disappeared behind the big steel door.
Copyright Sally Hull 2006
Please contact for permission to post or print this story.
Published: 24 January 2009
Last Updated: 25 January 2009
Paleofloods in the Red River Basin, Manitoba's Mineral Resources
Here's a little more information that I dug up in my research about the 1826 flood I thought might be interesting. Taken from the Geolgical Survey.
The current Red River oak record extends back to AD 1286 and documents changes in environmental conditions over the last seven hundred years.
Extreme floods, such as the 1950 flood or larger, cause oak to develop distintive anatomical markers, or "flood rings", that can be used to identify older and previously unknown Red River floods. Tree rings provide an extended flood record for the lower Red River ( between Winnipeg and Morris) that extends from AD 1648 to 1999. This technique has identified seven high-magnitude floods during the last 350 years: 1997, 1979, 1950, 1852, 1826, 1762 and 1747.
Although the five most recent flood rings are coincident with known high-magnitude floods, signatures in 1747 and 1762 predate local instrumental and historical flood records and represent previously unknown floods. Flood rings also document Red River floods in North Dakota and Minnestota in AD 1510, 1538, 1658, 1682, 1726, 1727, 1741, 1747 and 1762.
- The 1826 flood was the most severe event since at least AD 1648
- The risk of flooding has changed several times during the last 350 years. Although the mechanisms responsible for these changes are not yet understood, we clearly cannot assume that the pattern of recent flooding will continue indefinitely into the future.
- Future flood risks should use techniques that account for non-stationairity and non-randomness intoduced by climatic and landscape changes.
* for a larger view go to the Forces of Nature Picture file
Published: 21 January 2009
Last Updated: 20 July 2009