Monday, April 21, 2008

The Quiet Rescues

Paul, Natalie and "Custer"

The ARNO family had a quiet rescue this week, one that comes without all the fanfare and drama that some rescues deliver (some of us just have to do things the hard way!) but it was a rescue that made me appreciate all the quiet rescues that we all help facilitate on a regular basis.

No more than two weeks ago, a large yellow dog was spotted roaming around the vicinity of where our shelter is, always spotted by others who reported back to us, businesses along the main highways and streets in what is basically an industrial area of the city. The dog had yet to be spotted by any of us until the middle of this
past week when yet another business owner spotted the dog and came to the shelter, grabbed Robin and a catch pole and headed out to find the dog had again vanished. I left the shelter early that night to ride around and sure enough, there he was cruising down the street but unwilling to stop for a whistle or an offering of
food. He was skittish and scared of human contact. So we set a trap that night near his path where he had been spotted and hoped...we caught a cat and just imagine the sight of two petite women (Laura and Nat) rolling a large dog trap back to the shelter (about two streets over) on a rolling pallet because there was no way they were going to release an intact cat!

So the next night I headed out, once more trying to determine the dogs whereabouts and once again here he or she comes, pretty much down the same path, cruising down the main street and crossing over at the major highway to hit the garbage dumpster at the steak restaurant.....again, not stopping when food was offered and only
speeding up to get away from a human.

Of course, all night I couldn't sleep and thought about the collar on the dog and thought about a plan and thought some more. The next day, Friday, I emailed Natalie at the shelter to let her know that with only 3 hours of daylight to work with between the time I got off of work and the time the dog would likely come through again, my plan was to stop only for bacon, get to the shelter, change into trapping
gear, drive a couple miles away, unlock some traps at another location, head to the firestation to obtain the help of the firefighters all in the nick of time so that when here comes the dog at about 8:30ish, bam, he goes right into my bacon lined trap and we call it a night.

Thank goodness some things don't go as planned and thank goodness sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time and be in the right frame of mind to do what we do best...rescue. Although I was prepared to stalk this dog (especially since he was in our territory and especially since he had a collar) I can't honestly
say I was looking forward to the hunt...this dog looked like a pet not a street dog and all day Friday I kept checking the updated weather forecasts, all saying thunderstorms likely for Friday night...add to that the window of time I knew I had to make things happen just to get everything in place and then hope the dog would
come through the same path at the same time..that's a lot to hope for.

When I arrived at the shelter yesterday, in the rain and after stopping at two places
to find bacon and darn well speeding the rest of the way because you know the sun was going down, I arrived to silence which was odd but I ran inside anyway, tossed the bacon in the microwave, changed my clothes and ran outside to find one of our teenage volunteers sitting there...."where is everybody?" I asked and was told that they went to get a dog by the tracks, one that is injured. Well my heart sunk
right there on the spot, but I ran it and got the greasy half cooked bacon and drove over to the lot I knew the dog would go through at this time of the afternoon....and there they were, Natalie, Paul and four of the muddiest dog legs I have ever seen. I couldn't see the dog, only the muddy legs but I knew if they were standing right next
to Paul and Nat's legs, even though the dog was out of view, if the legs weren't, I wasn't going to be losing any sleep that night and this dog was one for the "rescue" column. Well the happy ending for this story started with Custer, that's our newest dog, and his decision to walk straight up through our neck of the woods, right
past the shelter, on Friday afternoon, during daylight hours...and everything fell into place when Natalie happened to be looking outside our glass door and couldn't believe her eyes when here comes Mr. Elusive. My guess is that Custer was making all the plans for this rescue and all the traps and bacon and firefighters in the world
wasn't going to change this one. Natalie followed Custer, around the block and across that main street but first asked Paul to follow her in his truck and by the time it was all done, Paul and Natalie both had used good sense and sound judgment and when they saw a chance to allow the dog to corner himself by walking through a gated area to eat some cat food, they took it....they told me that once Custer knew he was cornered, he gave up and who could imagine that the dog who was giving everyone in the neighborhood the slip was such a sweetie?? All I know is that when I saw those muddy legs and then Natalie and Paul's faces, I was ecstatic and never happier to see two people than I was at that moment.

So this quiet rescue of Custer by two people who on any other given day of the week are two people that help at the shelter, made me realize just how special our ARNO team is and just how happy I am to be part of their team. Our small but dedicated group of local volunteers who help make this shelter run every day is a group of
individuals who not only care about the animals that they look after day and night, but they care about each other and do what it takes to make each other's tasks and efforts a little easier and sometimes, their efforts help someone else get a good night's sleep. So with that in mind, I am taking a minute to express my thanks at being part of and having around me a wonderful shelter team that starts but does
not end with our shelter director Robin. Some of our most special rescuers who help get whatever it takes to get things done at the shelter (and beyond) but may not always get all the fanfare of the not-so-quiet rescuers, are:

Natalie - Natalie is our on-site person who I know Robin counts on a lot. Natalie is a genuinely caring person, towards people and animals and on top of everything else she does, she is very special to me because she is Boy's "other" handler...if Boy took to her right off, she must be special, right? Thanks Natalie for rescuing Custer
and for loving Boy and for just being there at ARNO to help make what we do possible to keep doing.

Laura Richard - Laura is our local photographer who helps with Petfinder and other projects and aside from overall type of help at the shelter including animal care, Laura is one of the people who administers meds and more individualized care to the animals..she's pretty good with a needle too. Laura was the one who loved one of
my other special projects, Rocca Zu, Boy's running buddy for nearly the two years he was out there. Rocca was always a people person but when she came to the shelter, she truly blossomed under Laura's very loving care. Thanks Laura for loving Rocca Zu and also for just being there at ARNO to help make everything possible.

The cat team - Anastasia, Tom, Nicole and Beth and Chamaine This bunch are the ones who keep our cats cared for and very loved....our cats have just the perfect hammock, the perfect toy, and everything else they can hope for until they are adopted. While Anastasia, Tom, Nicole and Beth care for our cats at the shelter, Chamaine works hard to place our cats into loving homes. Thanks Cat Team for being
part of the local crew that helps make things possible for ARNO.

Mimi - everybody knows Melinda's baby Sarah but Melinda or Mimi as we call her is one of those quiet ones who can move mountains if she needs to. She is a tiny person but can do the work of many people and she often does. Mimi can handle some of the toughest dogs but one of my favorite images of her is when she was good and pregnant
and napping in a kennel with Buzzy, one of the Lunchbox Gang members. Thanks Mimi for sticking it out with ARNO for a long time now, and I am grateful that you are part of its foundation.

Kelly Faye - Kelly is a firefighter so you know she is a strong person but Kelly is very special because she has helped ARNO so much with its cats...she has fostered many of ARNO's tougher cat cases and some of its ferals that for whatever reasons had to be socialized. Kelly has bottle fed many litters and many solitary tiny and helpless kittens as well..and she has had to deal with the pain of the ones who just couldn't be saved, for those she is most special because she has been the meal, the warmth, the love that they never would have known but for her. Thanks Kelly for everything you do for ARNO.

Tanya O'Reilly - Tanya helps at the shelter several days each week and she also helps out behind the scenes...she is the one who brought the Bacon family to ARNO last Christmas and I know there are other things in the works that she is helping with as well. Tanya is also one of those people who spends time away from the shelter either feeding or working to trap stray dogs...she was involved with Bandit,
our former feral, long before he came to ARNO. Thanks Tanya for being part of ARNO's team and for helping the stray dogs too. ARNO also has some fairly new volunteers who have already started to become regulars who the core volunteers count on for their help and they are also just nice people to be around to make our efforts more
enjoyable. Three of these volunteers who come to mind are Nicole, Paul and Karl. Nicole helps out with our dogs and we definitely missed her when she recently was gone for a few days..thanks Nicole for helping ARNO. Paul is the other half of Custer's rescue team and is genuinely helpful to everyone at ARNO, Paul was one of about four of us who missed JazzFest last weekend and instead joined us at
ARNO to walk dogs after and during a rainfall that left thigh-high water in front of our shelter...thanks Paul for rescuing Custer and for being willing to help all of us at ARNO no matter what the task is or how dirty it might be (puppies!) Finally, Karl is also a volunteer who has been coming to ARNO for just a couple months but
already has become a regular that we count on to help get things done...Karl also helps with the dogs but is also pretty handy with the zipties..thanks Karl for helping out at ARNO!

So what started out to be possibly another tough rescue and one that time was going to be of the essence because of the busy highways this dog travelled, Custer's rescue by two of ARNO's volunteers who normally and routinely help at the shelter was appreciated not only by Custer for saving his life, but by me, one of those not-so-quiet rescuers who really really needed a good night's sleep last night instead of a night hyperfocused on a bacon lined trap.....I am so glad I get to spend my time with the quiet rescuers who are ARNO.

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