My story starts in a small rural section of the South, very rural. I had just left my Aunt’s House on a nice, chilly October day. She had fallen and broken her hip and I went down to see if I could help out. While down there for a few days my Mom, went into the Hospital. So, instead of having a two week vacation, I started for home instead. I drove a mile to the end of my Aunts road heading North. I saw a car swerve and saw a little dog survive the near miss. I pulled over as I saw her going into the woods. I knelt down and said “come here baby”. She crawled to me on her belly. I took one look and knew she was not being fed. My first and only objective was for her to be safe. After she was seated in the back seat of my car I drove on, wondering what I was going to do with her. Apparently she had no home; no collar, no identification and for that matter no food in her belly. She looked to be very sick and thin. I decided the best thing I could do was to drive her back to NJ and get her to my Vet. After, she was in the back seat of my car for almost two hours, she finally sat up and I couldn’t believe what I saw in my rearview mirror. I couldn’t go back it would have delayed me by 4 hours. My Mom was still in the Hospital, I had to go forward not back! I stopped at the next rest area. The attendant and I spoke briefly. I gave him my number and a brief scenario of what took place. He informed me that she looked to have delivered not too long ago. I asked if he would call the Humane Society, and gave him the specifics of the area, road etc. That night that little girl and I stayed in a motel. I named her Rita, and decided then and there, she would also have my last name. Rita was so starved, everything I gave her, she devoured. I knew she had not eaten in a long long time. All night when I took her out she cried for her pups. I couldn’t sleep. I worried about my Mom and how she was feeling. I worried about Rita and her little pups; What did they look like? How many? How old? I could almost smell the puppy breath? But how could they survive? I prayed and the next day we arrived at 8 PM at a NJ Veterinary Hospital. Rita was diagnosed with heartworm and malnutrition. Also, poor Rita was diagnosed as being, a mere Puppy herself. A Puppy having puppies.
“Puppies” but where? I knew they were out there somewhere but, where? The backwoods officials at first refused to even search. Apparently the area she delivered her puppies in was not a very safe area, and the animal control officers did not want to go out there without “their armor” (bullet proof vests) It wasn’t until I finally called several state officials and the Administrator of the County before they actually went out. The puppies were found at last, after two days of being without their Mama. The lady who wasn’t feeding Rita didn’t take too kindly to puppies either. As they lay helpless under her porch she never acknowledged they were even there. She even admitted to the Officer she hadn’t seen the mother knowingly since that Wednesday. I still to this day can not understand if the Mother actually did belong to this lady, then why wasn’t she feeding her? Why didn’t she feed the pups. apparently the Animal Control Officers had the same questions or they wouldn’t have taken the pups. If I was the owner of the mother and knew she was missing and her pups were under that porch I would have at least fed the pups. I would have brought them in out of the cold. It was in the 40’s at night. They were just little helpless puppies. Then again if she hadn’t been feeding the Mother why bother with the pups.
Once the pups were safe in the shelter the officer informed me they would probably be euthanized. After all the worrying, frustration, heart wrenching guilt of taking “Rita” from her pups, now to find them at last. I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked, “if I found homes for the 8 pups would I be able to bring them up to NJ”. He said yes and then a few days later, the story read this way; the only way I could bail the pups out of his jail was to pay $860. This was the Adoption, Spay and Neuter Law. No law against starvation though! I was also shocked to find the pups would be neutered and spayed when they were only 3 lbs. Through special friends and virtual strangers I raised the bail money plus a transport up. A week passed, and that Monday an email; a heart stopping moment, one of the pups had died. Two days later another email, one more pup. I called once again and asked could I please bring the pups up here. I told him about the Hospital, knowing if they were here, they would survive. His answer, “we are doing everything we can here”. He was adamant and I was helpless. He also had every intention of still putting them through surgery the following week. Two days later two more pups. I immediately got on the phone with the same officials as before. Two hours later the phone call came from the Director; I can come and get the pups, 4 out of the original 8. He also, told me he had 5 other puppies from a different litter. Would I want to take them too. I knew if they remained, the same fate would befall them. So, two hours later I arranged for PDQ a transport company to meet me half way. The pups were dying and I knew every hour counted so the quickest way was for me to be driving down S while he was driving up N. I dropped Rita off at the Hospital that morning for her first Heartworm Treatment in a series of injections. I left for the South at 2 pm meeting the driver at a motel half way. When I arrived I took one look at the nine pups and knew they were all sick and in deep trouble. I drove straight to the Hospital and arrived with my precious cargo at 4:30 am Saturday 11/6/10. Rita without knowing it was finally reunited with her pups and she was the first to come home. Two days followed with puppies Libby, Ritter, and Ronan. Luke along with Charlotte, then Marshall and Leroy. Finally after 10 days in the Hospital the sickest of the remaining pups from the 2nd litter, Lil Abner and Harriet. None of these puppies had a prayer until they were in NJ. Now, our Prayers have been answered.
It’s a wonderful life! Now I know how Jimmy Stewart felt. Friends and also strangers, no longer strangers have brought me a peace and calm that I will never feel again in this lifetime. Nothing I could ever do at this time in my life could surpass the feeling of these past 30 plus days. All 9 puppies are starting new lives with families who will not only feed them, but cherish and love them as each and every one of these pups so deserve. As a pet sitter, I always heard of stories of how different dogs were rescued from a shelter. But, I never dreamed I would be a part of an actual rescue myself. But, here it is two months later and Rita has just finished her last Heartworm treatment and has her newly acquired “Humane Treatment” in her only home at “418”. My pocketbook is empty but my heart will be full of love forever for Rita and the memories of each and every one of my “Southern Souvenirs”.