Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

July 29, 2012

A home for Scrubby: Down-on-his-luck dog teaches valuable life lesson

— — Looking out the kitchen window, I saw a stray. A ragamuffin. He was eating greedily from my dogs’ food bowl. The German shepherds were not upset by this new face in the backyard. They had accepted him, and brought him home. Mi casa, su casa. Jazmine and Shadow stood guard while he ate.

“We have a new dog,” I announced to the husband, as he meandered through the kitchen. He was a bit confused until he looked out the window. The border collie mix was enjoying the last remnants of the kibble.

“They brought home a stray,” I explained.

lll

In no time, the border collie mix became part of the family. We called him “Scrubby,” because of his less-than-groomed appearance. For a week or so he stayed at the house, playing with the German shepherds in the backyard and enjoying the proverbial three squares a day.

Visiting my mom, I told the relatives of the new addition to our family. My sister was not surprised to learn of Scrub’s appearance.

This sister was also my neighbor. In country terms it meant her property bordered mine, but we weren’t within yelling distance of each other. Scrubs had lived at my sister’s house mere weeks before. It seemed he was a vagabond, a stray who went from house to house — enjoying the good life and moving on.

For the next few months, Scrubs would appear at our doorstep unannounced. While in our custody he would eat, drink and play a fast-paced game of ball with the shepherds. Then he would move on to the next household.

He was the neighborhood dog, beloved by all. Or so we thought.

lll

It was a cold winter’s night when we heard the unmistakable whine of a dog in distress. Quickly, we noted our shepherds were well and good, snoozing in front of the fireplace. But the whimpering continued.

We walked outside and realized the cries were coming from beneath our house. Crawling underneath, we found Scrubs, tears in his eyes and cries on his lips.

We fashioned a makeshift stretcher and tried to move him from beneath the house. It didn’t work. Any movement caused him extreme distress. His screams echoed in the dark. We shook our heads in dismay. The next morning I called our veterinarian and gave him a rundown of the problem. Unable to move Scrubs we couldn’t take him to the vet, however he did give us antibiotics for him. Our hope was that this would help the little dog heal.

For the next week we crawled under the house three times a day to give Scrubs his medicine, food and water. Try explaining to your boss why you need to leave work early to nurse an injured mutt. Fortunately, my boss understood.

lll

As spring broke in Four Seasons Country, Scrubby continued to heal. He was still under the house and refusing to move, but he was eating, drinking and taking his antibiotics.

On a warm, late-February weekend I brought out the ball for an intense game of fetch with shepherds. As Jazz and Shadow chased the bright yellow ball I heard a noise. Scrubs, limping gingerly, emerged from beneath the house. He was curious about the game, and now well enough to leave his sanctuary. I gave him a hug, and a treat.

Each day I watched Scrubs from the kitchen window, expecting him to move on to the next house. He never did. Our house was now his home.

A few weeks later we were once again outside playing a mad game of fetch. The spring sun shone brightly, and illuminated a metallic object on Scrub’s backside. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a bullet that had worked its way from inside to out.

I now knew what had injured our mutt. And I wondered what kind of heartless person would shoot such a kind-hearted dog.

After his injury and recuperation, Scrubs never left our house. He grew old, fat and lazy, enjoying the stability of a well-filled food bowl. And, whenever the urge took hold, there was always a game of fetch to be played with the well-worn yellow ball.

lll

Last week, the Mercer County Animal Shelter was placed under quarantine due to an outbreak of distemper and parvo. No dogs could go in or out. For animal lovers it’s a problem — what to do with dogs with no home and no hope.

As the shelter struggles with its challenges, maybe more people across the region will think about what they can do to help homeless animals. Maybe they’ll think about dogs like Scrubs, and offer a home to such strays with big hearts and even bigger personalities.

We didn’t choose Scrubs. But he found us, and our lives were blessed by the happy little vagabond whose greatest joy seemed to be wagging his tail. Sometimes, we learned, it’s best to yield to the German shepherds in a decision-making process.

Scrubs, Shadow and Jazz are long since gone. But they brought much joy and unconditional love into our home during the years they were with us.

The Bible teaches us the importance of showing kindness to strangers and those who need a helping hand. Jazz and Shadow taught our family it can be just as important and gratifying to help a down-on-his-luck dog.

Adopting a stray isn’t always easy or simple. But any inconvenience is well worth the payback of love and  overwhelming devotion.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.

1
Text Only
Columns
Editorials
Poll

Do you agree with the plans by Republicans to sue President Barack Obama over allegedly failing to carry out the new health care law? After voting, go to facebook.com/bdtonline to comment.

     View Results