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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Throwaway Animals

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

daughter of the Old-Timer



**********

It takes a lot to change hearts and minds, but it can happen. The city of Denver, Colo., no longer has to kill healthy homeless dogs - in fact, dogs from less enlightened areas with overcrowded shelters are brought to Denver, where people are anxious to adopt them. Everyone spays and neuters and there aren’t thousands of unwanted puppies being born. Unfortunately that change is still probably more than a decade away in Oklahoma.

We recently took in a young female dog. My next door neighbor, who probably regards me as eccentric, crazy or both, knows how much I hate it when he shoots dogs and cats, so for the first time he called me when this one came into his yard. “Come and get her, or I will shoot her.” The sad thing is, we both knew where this dog belonged - another neighbor with a pack of three young dogs left ignored and untended in their yard. I asked if they knew the dog had been at his home, and he offered that he had called them, and they said he could go ahead and shoot her. I didn’t want to believe that was true, so I went to their door to check with the owner, and she confirmed she’d said to kill the dog, because “I can’t keep her in the yard.” She told me this in front of her young daughter, who looked at me sadly. All I can say is, people truly blow my mind at times.

So, “Pogo” came home with me, was introduced to all our other animals, and started learning how to be a companion animal. First order of business was a spay, flea treatment and shots, and then we introduced her to walking on a leash, housebreaking, and crate training. She was smart, a quick study. And cute, with her blue eye and brown eye. The vet guessed she was mostly Australian Shepherd, a nice size at just over 30 pounds.

I have thanked my neighbor for giving me a chance to take the dog no one wanted to take care of. Yesterday, after about six weeks with us, she was accepted into the local service dog training program. She has been matched with an active 16 year old girl with severe epilepsy. The dog will be trained to alert the girl’s teachers and family when she is starting to have a seizure. The girl’s mother and I had a good cry together when the trainer decided that Pogo was the best match for this girl. The service dog trainer offered me a fee for giving them a dog. I’ve never been so happy to turn down money.

Because her life was spared, the dog will be doing a very important job.

I have taken in many, many animals in during my life. To me, each one is special. There are those who really need a purebred dog. If you want to hunt rabbits, you probably want a Beagle. But the vast majority of people just want a four-legged friend. And you can get that for a lot less money at the local shelter. In fact, if you have your heart set on a specific breed and are willing to wait, you can probably get that dog from a shelter in a bigger city.

What almost got thrown away, will be protecting a very nice young lady. She will accompany her special girl to school, church, and everywhere else. And she’ll will be happy to be at the girl’s side every minute. There are many, many more animals just like her, on “death row” in our shelters, chained up in backyards alone, and along our highways.


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