Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Then came Ella...

Submitted by Janell Matthies, UAN Emergency Services Manager

I'm writing this on Sunday night, and every last one of our dogs has gone off to great rescue groups. Even the mangy dogs, the old dogs, the ultra-scared dogs … there was a place for each and every one of them. The shelter is empty and quiet and feels very strange after the flurry of activity over the past four days. I am always amazed we can get the job done so quickly. Dogs came in different trucks with varying numbers and breeds and problems. We documented them, gathered evidence, cared for them and -- boom -- they were out the door. Many of us even found time for grooming, bathing and cuddle time. This was a huge undertaking for any emergency shelter. And as I said in my previous post, it was all done extraordinarily well. No one fell through the cracks; every single dog got fed, cleaned, comforted and cared for. We know exactly where they came from, what they did while they were with us, and where they ended up. You would think I would get used to the incredible abilities and dedication of the UAN volunteers, but they never cease to amaze me.

So I thought I was getting off easy on this deployment. Many of the dogs were very cute and very sweet, all needed attention and affection. I happily thought to myself, "I am finally getting used to this; I haven’t really fallen for any of them. Maybe I’m a real professional now." Then came Ella, a tiny long-haired chihuahua.

I noticed her lying limply in her cage, panting and uncomfortable. I took her over to see the vet, who took one look at her and said: “Well, she’s older than dirt and a train wreck” and proceeded to discover all of her many ailments. Those two phrases "older than dirt” and “train wreck” are somehow my weakness. Can’t I every fall for a cute, happy, healthy puppy? And I’m a big-dog girl. I hand fed Ella some smelly puppy food and she tentatively ate some polite little bites, but she still didn’t look very happy. I then got an ice bag and wrapped a cushy towel around it, misted it with just the right amount of water so it was cool, but not too cold, and put it in her cage. I got as many fleas and ticks off of her as I could after she was documented and left her to it. When I went back a while later (okay, it was ten minutes) she was fast asleep on her cooling bed. Seeing her go from unhappy and uncomfortable to sleeping so deeply she was almost snoring gave me the warm fuzzies.

I kept bringing her to the vet and fretting over her and Doc finally sent her to the local emergency clinic. As far as we know she didn’t have any critical needs, I think the vet just needed me to stop worrying about her. Again, you’d think I’d be used to this. I now know she is resting very comfortably there, getting constant treatment and supervision and is starting to perk up. Oh my, is she going to brighten someone’s life! She’s an itty bitty little girl who needs a whole lot of love, but I know someone special will give her the life of luxury that she has been denied but so deserves. Thank goodness she is no longer where she was and is now getting the ultimate care she desperately needs. Once she gets over her mange, gets a bath, gets her nails trimmed so she can walk again and gets some love and attention, she will change someone’s life. I’m glad I was able to meet her and start her on her journey to the life she deserves.


  1. Janell, your posts of the ones that steal your heart always get me. I'm so grateful you and the rest of the UAN team were there to help Ella and the rest of the pups.

  2. If you weren't falling for at least one, then I'd have to say you'd be needing a break.

  3. Good point Brian...:) Granted all of them get to me, there's always "that one" that make me wonder if my airline allows dogs as carry-on.

  4. Janell, I am a "big dog" girl, too, but after Dane County, I have an incredible urge to rescue a Chihuahua myself... I cried my eyes out over a tiny black/tan one there who played with a Kong toy just as big as he was, knocking it all over the cage as if he'd never played before... there's something about those tiny ones sometimes!!


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