Sunday night after the Super Bowl, I checked my email and found an urgent foster request. A dog on Death Row at a local Animal Control was slated for "The Long Walk" at 2 pm on Monday. They have a limited hold policy that doesn't give a lot of time before euthanizing.
I wasn't sure what we were getting ourselves into, I didn't know much about the dog. I volunteered to take him as a temporary emergency foster while they looked for a full-time placement.
Throughout the day I had a few conversations with a rescue volunteer named Susan* and bit by bit found out more parts of his story through her questions.
9:00 am His name is Teddy because he reminds me of a huge teddy bear. I'm not sure how he is around other dogs. Is that ok?
Sure. We'll figure it out. Just get him out of there.
2:00 pm We're at the vet and he tested positive for heartworm. Can you give him medication?
Of course. Not a problem.
2:30 pm He's filthy. I'm pretty sure Animal Control didn't give him a bath. Are you comfortable bathing a big dog?
Yeah. I am. How big? 65 pounds? That's not too big.
3:00 pm If he gets along with your dogs, I don't know about bringing him in the house. He's not neutered so he marks like crazy.
Fine. We'll plan on crate training until he's neutered. Or use belly bands.
Susan got here around 6:00. Teddy was overly excited and launched out of the car, dragging her down the driveway, finally lurching to a stop to mark my mailbox and the telephone pole.
We tried to introduce Ollie. That didn't go so well. It started out with two happy dogs, but Ollie's warning growl triggered Teddy's fight response and they were separated. Both dogs by this point were too stimulated, so I brought Ollie inside and then stood in the backyard with Susan while we watched Teddy explore the yard.
That's when I found out more of Teddy's story.
On a mission to rescue a pair of emaciated pit bulls someone had reported, Susan saw Teddy chained to an abandoned building. He was in an exceptionally bad area of Detroit. The lot next to the building appeared to be a junkyard of sorts and the "Beware of Dog" signs seemed to indicate Teddy was guarding the area. She approached the dog and his little nub of a tail wagged so hard it turned into a full body wiggle. He licked her hand and leaned his whole body against her leg, looking up at her with his big brown eyes. There was no water, no shelter, no hay for the dog to bed down in. It was 19 degrees with a wind chill of -11, all the houses were burned out and abandoned. Susan couldn't leave him there to freeze to death, so she went to the truck and got the bolt cutters. That was three weeks ago.
This is all we will ever know about Teddy for fact. Anything after this is deduced through reasoning and listening to what he tells us. In the last 18 hours, Teddy has told me someone once loved him enough to teach him to sit for a treat or meal. He also said that he's never been inside a house and going through the door is breaking a rule. (Probably because of the continuous marking.) Last night, he showed me how he is easily entertained, likes comfy things and will keep his bed clean overnight. He told me he wishes he didn't feel like he had to mark everything all the time and that it is exhausting. Oh, and his tail would like to add that Teddy really wants to do the right thing.
He has so much to say.
So sad no one listened to him before this.
*not her real name