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Rhoda Hitched a Ride

 

It was the transport that none of us will ever forget. The lucky 22. The trek that Heather and her husband would take, all the way to North Carolina and back to save 21 dogs from certain death. At least that was the plan. Lucky for Rhoda, her stray time was up that Friday and Heather's last stop was the shelter to grab any that we could manage to fit on the van before heading out. I watched the website religiously and when this big dirty white distressed looking dog popped up on the shelter site I told Heather 'don't leave her!'. She was in rough shape, but still gorgeous in my eyes. We didn't have a foster for her but I would just take her myself. They euthanize on Fridays and I wasn't going to let that happen.

 

Rhoda squeezed into a spot the exact size of her large body next to the stacked crates by the side door of the van. She rode quietly the entire way laying on a blanket, and showed relief to be out of the shelter. When the van arrived in NY, we helped guide her nearly furless, cumbersome body out of the van and into the waiting kennel in the garage. She plopped down on the bed and slept for a few hours while we tended to the other 21 and got them off to their foster homes.

When it was finally Rhoda's turn, we discovered, besides missing most of her fur, that she was covered in ticks. We plucked them off one by one as she lay there, gave her a bath to wash off the skunk smell, offered a hug and slid her a bowl of food. She refused to eat, drink, and potty. No worries, we thought, it's been a long drive and she's no doubt not feeling well.

Flash forward 2 days and we are at the Emergency Vet. Still no food, no water and no potty. Rhoda was suspected of having Endometriosis, (a uterin infection which is life threatening), so they ran bloodwork, gave her fluids, and monitored her. X-rays discovered her uterous was intact but she had bullets scattered throughout her entire left side of her body. Someone had shot her with a buckshot. She stayed at the hospital for several more days and finally began eating and drinking and peeing! on her own, they sent her home to us.

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(Rhoda at the vet's office)

We loved her up as much as possible. We noticed she was a shy girl, she'd only 'do her business' behind the bush in the far corner of our lot where nobody could see her. She was afraid of thunderstorms and liked to sleep in the strangest places, wedging her big white body inside the tiniest spots you can imagine. I once found her inside a plastic tote box full of newspapers! One day after our walk, I left her in the garage to cool off a bit and she must have jumped up and hit the garage door opener with her paw. My husband came home and asked why the garage door was open. No sign of Rhoda anywhere! Just as we were about to panic my cell phone rang (my number was on her tag). The Alpaca farm down the street about a mile called, were we missing a Great Pyrenese by chance? They had three GP of their own and looked out the window and saw four. Imagine that! How in the world did Rhoda know to travel to the home with dogs of her same kind! How funny.

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(Rhoda at the back of the property. Her fur is just starting to grow in!)

Rhoda's health resulted in good days and bad days, mostly bad days in the begininng which resulted in many vet visits. Which was okay for the vet office, because they loved her and she became somewhat as the local celebrity there. "Rhoda!", they would all say in unison as she walked in the front door (picture "Norm!" from Cheers), but as time went on, they blended into good days for her. She was with us from August until December battling health issues. She was finally strong enough to be spayed and grew back all her thick fur which I absolutley loved to run my fingers through. It really broke my heart when the day came that I clicked that little button that listed her as 'adoptable'. But I did it anyway, knowing that there would be another after her who needed me. Oh Rhoda.

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(Rhoda's favorite place to sleep)

Michael was searching for a large dog and had heard about Rhoda through one of our volunteers who works with him. The situation couldn't have been more perfect for Rhoda. He is a single guy looking for a dog to spoil and Rhoda is a single gal looking for spoiling. Meeting Michael and knowing what a great guy he is and how spoiled our Rhoda would be, made handing over that leash that much easier. We missed her when she left and our hearts hurt.

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(Rhoda after one of her many walks)

Michael did a great job keeping us updated though, sending us texts several times a day the first week, then every few days the next week, and slowly cut the cord. He was amazing and understood how much we loved her and sensed that the goodbye had stung a bit. We did have the chance to see her again when Michael brought her back to one of our outdoor events in June. My husband put his face onto hers like he used to do and grabbed her thick neck fur with his hands and she nuzzled her nose into his neck. She clearly remembered him. I hugged her and she leaned into me. It was a good feeling. It was a good day.

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(Rhoda and my husband, Nate; Rhoda is all healthy and happy! Note her thick fur!)

 

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PO Box 626 •  East Amherst, NY 14051  •   •  info [ at ] blackdogsecondchance.org