The Story of a Bonded Pair in a High Intake Animal Shelter
Chachi arrived at Animal Services with her mother in late October, 2013.
I didn't, and still don't know, if I can do these 2 dogs justice with words alone.
But I'll try... simply by telling their story.
A Bonded Pair
Have you ever seen 2 dogs so bonded... so bonded they sleep together, curled up, one using the other as a pillow, they eat together, with one always just a step behind the other, ready to play, to gently jump on its buddy, to mouth, roll around and have a lot of good ol' doggy fun?
This is how Chachi and Chichi were, extremely bonded.
Chachi, the daughter, was always gently bouncing on her mom to provoke play, and her mom delighted in the love and attention of her daughter!
I'll never forget the first time I saw them- they were sleeping together in a kennel about half way down the long row of full large-dog-runs, Chachi using her mom's hip as a pillow.
I bent down quietly and snapped a few photos, ready to network to try to get these precious girls out of the shelter alive.
Over the next few days I got to know their delightful, carefree personalities, and watching them play together brought such joy I'd often laugh aloud!
I sent out an email blast with their story: they had been picked up on the side of a highway together. They were a bonded pair and ideally should be fostered or adopted together. After their stray wait nothing would be guaranteed for them. -That's pretty much what the email said, accompanied with their precious photos.
Hope for the Pair
Days went by and nothing, nothing other than Maria's 'last option' for Chachi and Chichi.
So I emailed her, letting her know they'd need to go to foster care a.s.a.p. or face an uncertain future at the shelter. At this point in time it was unusual for a dog to be at Animal Services for more than 3 weeks... if they weren't walking out the door by around that time (with an adopter, foster or rescue) they'd be carried out the (back) door in black garbage bags. Euthanasia was, and still is, a reality in high intake shelters. Space and the constant flow of incoming animals are always issues.
Maria said, "yes," but that she'd need to figure out a way to break the news to her hubby that 2 more doggies would be in the house for a while... she was going to be really sweet to him!
We worked up Chachi and Chichi to leave on foster care. 'Working up' shelter pets consists of micro-chipping them, running blood work, and sterilization, if possible based on the animal's condition at the time of departure. So, when blood work's done, fingers are always crossed.
In South Florida (where this story takes place) heart worm disease is prevalent and, at times, fosters or adopters back out upon discovering a dog is heart worm positive and will need treatment for several weeks, or even months.
Things are Rarely Simple in the Shelter World
Luckily, Maria still hesitantly agreed to take on Chachi and Chichi. -A heck of a woman that Maria!
So, hallelujah! Relief, humility and joy graced my psyche. These 2 kindred spirits had a plan in place, we'd network them and take them to events to find them a permanent home while she fostered. Maria was scheduled to pick up Chachi and Chichi on a Wednesday we'll say. I was ecstatic the day of the pick up... these are the moments you live for, moments that keep you going, when working in a shelter.
I went to visit Chachi and Chichi and... Chachi wasn't there. She was nowhere to be found. The dogs had been moved around in different kennels and I was immediately panic-stricken and angry.
-How could this be happening? -I had worked so hard. -These dogs were going to beat the odds... now where was the daughter dog?!
I searched that place up, down and all around. She wasn't there. I beckoned the help of the kennel manager. He reviewed euth records to see if she had accidentally been put down, it didn't seem that had happened.
When Maria arrived I felt ashamed and embarrassed to break the news to her that Chachi, the daughter, was 'missing.' She was outraged and confused.
"She couldn't have been put to sleep could she?" she asked.
I shrugged my shoulders and lifted my eyebrows which meant I didn't know... I did not know.
I did know we weren't going to let this rest.
A week went by, perhaps a few days more than a week.
Chachi was 'found.' She had been mistakenly taken to a nearby kennel that housed our dogs awaiting transport. Someone mistook her for a transport dog.
When Chachi returned to the shelter she was somewhat of a different dog. She was clearly agitated, jumping on the fence a lot more, barking more. She seemed confused, frustrated and desperate... who wouldn't be? This dog had been through so much. I was angry and devastated knowing Chachi's innocence had been robbed.
Her playful, carefree puppy side was merely a shadow of her past (of course it could come back if she were rescued).
Immediately upon discovering Chachi's whereabouts I contacted Maria, the foster. She couldn't take Chachi now. She explained that if she had brought them both home together she could have smoothed it over with her husband but now... she simply couldn't do it. I empathized. None of this was her fault in the first place. She had been the only person able and willing to help these girls to begin with.
Maria was outraged by what happened with Chachi and wrote the Director an email detailing the event and her frustration. That didn't change anything. It didn't change the fact that I had a dog here now with a sickness and that didn't 'show well' in her kennel due to her anxiety. -Not an easy scenario. I notated on her file that she should be given another 5 day stray wait since she was misplaced for several days. That was granted; she was given another 5 days. In that time I tried to offer her some sense of solace. And I networked her and the urgency of her situation. I am ashamed to admit I didn't have it in me to get her out to play much (I got out a few dogs every day I worked in the shelter and those were my favorite moments of each day). I did not have a good feeling about how this would turn out and I couldn't bare to get too close to her again. This whole thing had been beyond heartbreaking and enraging. Bless her sweet, innocent heart and soul. She did nothing to deserve all of this.
On Chachi's new due out date, due to that 5 day extension, she was euthanized.
If somehow, someway, Chichi's foster sees and reads this blog, I'd love to hear from her.