Friday, August 21, 2009

Tears of happiness

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

Things are finally starting to wind down at the temporary shelter. The dogs are quickly and happily being carried to the transport vehicles to start their new lives. The volunteers are in tears, but they are tears of happiness to see our guys move on to the next and better phase of their lives.

So many of these animals have touched our hearts. Many of them were in critical condition when they arrived, but with the skill and expertise of the UAN volunteers, along with loving care, most are now well on their way to being healthy. Some are thoroughly thriving.

One girl who really got to all of us was Lulu. Lulu is an older dachshund who was so pregnant she could not move and could barely breathe. The first thing everyone asked at the morning briefings was, “Did she have her babies yet?” Lulu had constant care and comfort as the volunteers cheered her on. We finally got approval to send her out for an emergency c-section. Imagine our surprise, relief and a brief flash of frustration when the vet called back shortly to tell us she was not pregnant. She had an abdominal infection that was causing a massive fluid buildup in her abdomen. They immediately drained her stomach and she is a changed dog.

She arrived back at the shelter to smiles and snaps (clapping gets the dogs riled up, so we have resorted to snaps instead of loud cheers). We got her comfortable in a cushy bed with some food and lots of water, and watched her turn into the dog that was hiding inside. She began doing the front-foot tap dance every time we walked by. Seeing her doggie smile and wagging tail made our day. Lulu was so incredibly uncomfortable when she came in; we are so pleased to see her feeling so much better.

Another of my favorites went out to rescue today. Regina, a senior two-and-a-half-pound Chihuahua caught my eye on the first day of regular shelter operations. One of the volunteers asked if she could add a blanket to her cage because she was shivering and felt cold. I had the vet take a look at her and found nothing seriously wrong, other than years and years of neglect (and being a Chihuahua).

I began checking on Regina often, making sure she was warm enough with her blankie, but not too hot. She wasn’t eating so I was growing concerned. I finally looked in her mouth to find just three teeth. We immediately switched her to watered-down soft food and she dove right in. As I watched her eat, the food kept falling out of her mouth. I hand fed her as often as I could, but was worried she wasn’t eating enough. She went to our “hospital” area and the vet determined she had a non-recent nasal bone fracture that never healed, most likely from having no other option and trying to stay alive by eating hard kibble. The vet said he’s seen it before in massive cruelty cases, but it was definitely not common.

From then on, she received a gruel-like mixture of tasty wet food and she was able to eat very happily and very, very often. We set her up in a bed made of hospital sheets and a litter box and she was obviously pleased. She napped and rested, and when we came by to visit she’d flop her tail and smile, but was always hesitant to leave her comfy new bed. I know someone out there is going to be the luckiest person when they adopt Regina. She has so much gratitude for all who cared for her, and the expression on her face is priceless.

The UAN team on this deployment was amazing. Representatives from every organization that participated commented on how great the EARS volunteers are. Dedicated, solid, work horses, passionate and fantastic were words I heard often while listening to folks describe the crew. I, again, am so honored to have met and worked with so many compassionate people who so easily made caring for these animals their top priority. Whether it was hauling garbage; setting up fans; providing lunch for the volunteers; cleaning poop; bathing dogs; helping the vets; or all of the many, many other tasks it took to care for these dogs, each person was invaluable. The spirit, trust and the happy look in the dog’s eyes just proves what a difference each and every person made.


  1. I'm glad you posted the stories about the two dogs. You just know we'll inevitably see this again on another deployment, so it's good to learn now what those problems sometimes present like.

  2. janelle hope you are feeling better. i just wanted to say the trip to kaufman reiterated
    the tireless efforts of my fellow volunteers
    i saw in fort worth. what a fabulous group
    to be associated with.. a special thanks to
    mike for taking time to showing me more of
    'the ropes' during a massive crisis such as
    this one was.. and also special thanks to karen
    trevino who invited me to the workshop in waco. gods speed til we meet again..resa rose


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