This week’s dog, Lucky, comes with an incredible story. From reader Larry Brothers in Sammamish, Washington:
I spent a month rescuing animals in the aftermath of Katrina. The group I was with got a call one morning from the police. A dog – a bullmastiff, according to them – was on a shelf in the closet of a wrecked house and was “out of his fucking mind.” He had bitten a couple of them and, if someone didn’t get him down, they were going to shoot him. I arrived to find a terrified, twenty-five pound chow/shiba mix who was, in fact, out of his fucking mind. He had been stuck in that house for two weeks after the hurricane and he bore a striking resemblance to Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” It took me almost an hour to calm him down enough to get a slip leash on him and get him out of there.
Two weeks earlier, fourteen of us from Pasado’s Safe Haven in Washington had jumped on a plane to Houston, then rented several vans to head to New Orleans. We had no idea on the way there where we were going to stay or how we were going to talk our way past the police and military to get into the city. By the time the plane landed, people back at Pasado’s had secured a ranch with an enormous barn in Houma, south of the city. Louis and Linda St. Martin, a local attorney and his wife, told us to use it as we saw fit and we did exactly that. When we first arrived, we discovered that a local equestrian center had been commandeered to temporarily vet check and house the rescued animals until arrangements could be made to reunite them with their people or ship them out to shelters all over the country.
It was a well-intended cluster fuck. Different rescue groups would arrive with trucks and vans full of animals and have to spend hours checking in—after rescuing in 95 degree heat all day. Often the Center would reach capacity before all the animals were unloaded and the rescuers would have to leave to try to find some other place for them. And, of course, the in-fighting was stupendous. The Humane Society, the ASPCA, local groups… everyone wanted to have endless meetings about who was in charge. ‘Protocol’ seemed to be the watchword. We said fuck a bunch of protocol and set up two hundred wire kennels in the barn. Back in Washington, Pasado’s sent out emails and appeals on their website for volunteers. No experience necessary, bring your sleeping bags and tents and come help save lives. No certification or degrees required, unlike most of the other groups.
Within two weeks, we had vets and vet teams from all over the country and hundreds of volunteers. We had people donating private planes with the seats removed to fly animals to no-kill shelters all over the country. Some just loaded up vans and drove hundreds of miles or more to deliver them.
Some people were there for a few days and some for a few months. We saved over 1200 animals and were blackballed in Louisiana for refusing to follow protocol.
Lucky wouldn’t let anyone handle him but me. He was in the barn for several days before he was shipped out to a shelter. Over the ensuing months, I thought about him often. I had considered taking him home but I had two cats and two other dogs at the time and I didn’t want to get him all the way back to Washington to find he couldn’t get along with everyone. I even tried to find him a couple of times but, unknown to me, his identification number from the barn had been copied down wrongly, so it was fruitless.
In February of 2006, I was talking with a friend in Alabama whom I had met when she came to volunteer with us. She was the best I’ve ever seen with aggressive dogs and she ran a shelter in Alabama. We were reminiscing and, of course, Lucky’s name came up. I told her I hadn’t been able to locate him.
Four days later, she called me. Someone had just surrendered him at her shelter. I had her fly him to Washington immediately.
Today, Lucky is approximately 7-8 years old and shares our house with four other rescued dogs and my unbelievable wife, Amanda, who is – naturally – a dog trainer. My cats have passed away but Lucky did fine with them. He loves his housemates but, not unexpectedly, he has his problems. He is fiercely protective of our home and doesn’t do well with people or dogs he doesn’t know extremely well. That isn’t going to change, so we manage his behavior when people are over by putting him in my office with some toys and a frozen peanut butter kong. He thinks he’s died and gone to heaven.
The photo above is obviously the before. The after is below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hug my dog.