Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wrinkles, Now & Then

Wrinkles, 2015

As so often happens, it was a friend and former adopter who alerted me to a senior pug needing rescue. He was, through no fault of his own, in a risky situation. Jen B picked him up and met I met her in St Louis to retrieve him. His story, as I understood it, is all second-hand:

I was told Wrinkles had been saved by a good Samaritan, and that his original family had planned to euthanize him. I never heard why they decided they couldn't be bothered with him after nearly 12 years. The person who took Wrinkles already had a full house and could not keep him, so she started looking for an appropriate home for him.

Wrinkles is a pound overweight, needs his shots updated and a dental, but is otherwise healthy. Like most owner-surrenders whose families abandon them, he was not thrilled at the conditions at my rescue house. Clearly, he had never seen so many dogs in one place. Wrinkles ran out my back door and as far away from all of us as he could get, which is to say, he was in a corner against the far fence. He made himself as inconspicuous as he could. Wrinkles stood there, visibly shaking. He would not eat. He would not drink. He would not come near me or any of the rescue dogs. His eyes darted about nervously as if to say, "Where are my parents? What is this place and why am I here?", followed by an emphatic "HOME...TAKE ME HOME!"

Though my heart ached for him, I knew the best course of action was to leave him alone and let him calm down. It was a beautiful day and Wrinkles was safe, so I went back inside and began trying to piece together what I could of his history..

Wrinkles came with a folder containing his medical history, The first thing I saw on opening
Wrinkles, 2004
it was a grainy xeroxed photo of a pug puppy with adorable airplane ears. Wrinkles' vet had taken it on his first visit and never changed it. Seeing that photo - realizing his family had bought Wrinkles as a very young pup - was a shock. For me, that would be tantamount to giving away a child. In December of this year, Wrinkles will be 12y/o. What kind of people get rid of a dog they raised from a puppy in his last few years of life? I could only imagine the emotional trauma. No wonder Wrinkles wanted nothing to do with us.

I left him alone that first night, although we did make him come inside to sleep. The next morning, back out the door went Wrinkles, and as far away from us as possible. He would not be tempted by even the most delectable morsels - chicken, tried-and-true arsenal. Nor would he allow himself to be caught, or even approached by me. As darkness encroached, I enlisted the aid of my brother, Mark, to catch Wrinkles. Mark came from one side, I from the other. As I came close enough to touch him, I commanded "Sit!" several times with the accompanying hand gesture. Wrinkles sat, but he still looked at me as if I were coming to kill and eat him. Instead, I gently lifted him and sat him on my bed.

Wrinkles had pain-filled eyes that made only the briefest contact. Not physical pain, but the despair of abandonment - of having your whole world evaporate in an instant. He was deeply sad, and I was sad for him. Every muscle in his little body seemed coiled and ready to spring. Slowly, I began to massage his head and neck. I brushed the loose fur away. I concentrated hard on sending gentle, calming energy through my fingertips. I tried to explain.

"What they did to you", I whispered, "was horrible. You did nothing to deserve this. You're a good pug." Some of the tension faded. "I know you have feelings. I care about your feelings. I promise, no one here will hurt you. I won't let anyone hurt you again." I kept speaking in a soft, low voice. He did not understand the words, but he did understand. After a long while, Wrinkles laid his head down and went to sleep. He slept on a corner of my bed that night, a privilege, I'd been told, he was not allowed by his original family.

The next morning, Wrinkles went outside and came right to me when I called - no more cowering in the corner. He ate some canned food for me.When my brother worked outside that day, Wrinkles followed him. His tail was raised and curled. When I came home from work, he stood with the other pugs. He was a full-fledged pack member. I was so proud of him. Even after nearly 20 years of rescue, it amazes me that a senior dog can be so resilient. Despite the most grievous insult from the family he had loved, somehow he found the courage to begin to trust again. 

Wrinkles has been with us almost four days now. He's doing better and better. Every day a little bit better. I think we have reached a state of understanding.

But the family who bought that precious little pug puppy, raised him for nearly 12 years then dumped him like a piece of old furniture?

Some things I will never understand.