Well, one fun little experiential phenomenon that I forgot to mention that comes with picking up a street puppy from a clown on Bourbon Street is mange. That's right. The adorable little staffie mix with the wormy belly had mange. For people, that translates to scabies. I would bet that most of the readers out there do not even know what that is. Well, neither did we. They're tiny little mites, and they're the reason all the fur falls off a "mange" animal. It's like lice on steroids.
Just imagine three adults standing in a claw foot bathtub soaked in a scabicide head to toe a few times a day for a few days in a row. Miraculously, Kaya didn't catch it. Just lucky us. We washed all the clothes and blankets and bedding with bleach and hot water. After a week or so, everyone was recovered with no further incident. Erik was less than pleased, yet it caused a strange bonding between us all.
Fast forward to months later when our landlord found out and politely asked us to find a new home. He actually expressed disappointment in a true southern gentlemanly sort of way and I felt bad that we'd let him down. But we moved and that was that.
So, you would think that I would quit jogging around the neighborhoods after what happened with Lady (that's what we named the female dog that was going to get thrown into the dumpster from the second floor), but I just loved running around those Oak tree lined streets. With the Crepe Magnolias and brick side streets and sidewalks, it was so romantic and beautiful, I couldn't help but want to get out in it.
My running path began to take me down toward Tchopitoulas Street off Louisiana Avenue and for about two weeks I'd run past this house with a chainlink fence and a concrete yard. There was a dog house and one day I noticed a small German Shepard. The first thing I noticed was her sweet eyes. Every day I'd run past early in the morning. There was never any food or water and the dog was always out there. Many people in New Orleans believed keeping a dog, any dog would keep them safe since the crime rate was so high. This dog barely had the energy to bark at me. I felt so bad for it so I started bringing treats for it. I wanted to complain to the home owners so one day I went knocking, but there was no answer and you would think the place was abandoned due to the shambles. I left a note to please take care of the dog.
Finally, I ran past and noticed someone had put flea powder all over the dog. They must have just thrown it on her because it was in her eyes and around her food bowl and unevenly dispersed in her fur. Well, that was it for me. I waited all day and into the night when the sun went down and asked my roommate if I could borrow the car, grabbed some wire cutters and went to get her. I cut the 8' chain locked fence at the driveway enough to open it and brought treats. We covered the back seat with a blanket. She was afraid, but finally came out. We helped her in the car on the blanket and brought her home where I had a hose and flea and tick shampoo waiting. It was plenty warm outside and we sat in the back courtyard of the apartment and washed her long fur. When we pulled the blanket out of the car, it was covered in bugs.
The courtyard was red brick and Crepe Magnolias lined our patio and she made a nice bed for herself that night on the step by the door. When I got up in the morning and opened the door she stood up and there were hundreds of dead ticks on the step. I pet her and fed her and promptly swept the step and after a walk, I washed her again. She had the sweetest, most gentle eyes and I needed no leash for her. She would just walk by my side. I brought her to the vet that day and found that as a full grown adult German Shepard, she weighed only 25 pounds. She also had heart worms, a deadly disease and a very expensive one to cure.
I had no intention of keeping her since we had dogs already so I made flyers and went around to all the natural food stores, natural pet stores and other places where I thought like minded and empathic folks might shop and put them up. Sure enough, a Tulane professor of women's studies saw the flier and called me. She met with us and I explained the situation. She told me she was just starting to feel the sadness from losing her own German Shepard after fifteen or so years and when she saw the flier she thought it was a sign.
The woman had long salt and pepper hair and soft skin. I told her I was so thankful to have met her and I asked her to go home and be sure to sleep on it and give me a call the next day because it was a very big responsibility and I understood that. She agreed, but she called me early the next day. She was ready. She came by and picked up the little shepard who was gaining a little weight now and chose to go to a homeopathic vet for the heartworm treatments. It was a risk because even the treatments could kill her.
Six months later, Grumble and I were walking at our favorite spot on the levee by the Mississippi up at Audubon Park and there they were. She had completed the treatment and put on weight and walked next to the professor right at her side, just as she had done with me. Most importantly, they both had huge smiles on their faces and were doing very well. I couldn't have been happier. I will never understand why people treat animals so badly sometimes. This is just not something that is in my nature and sometimes I feel every pain of it. I'm glad I didn't just stand by and let this happen. Even though I know I can't save them all, I am glad I could save this one.
Our landlord was a smooth talking Louisiana man who always wore a suit with a bow tie and drove a big white Caddie that resembled a 25 foot boat more than a car. I'm not sure how it really got around corners. He was a nice man and regretted to inform us that since we had indeed broken the rules, we would have to leave.
We found a place up Magazine Street a bit, a little closer to All Natural, the health food store we used to go to, and to the levee around Audubon park. I would ride my bike up the Camp street cobble stones and Grumble would follow along. If I went to the A&P, he would wait outside. If I went to the park, he would run along side my bike. Only if I went to the French Quarter would I sometimes put him on a leash, but I rarely brought him there so he was rarely on a leash.
One day, when I was out on my run with him, I saw a man on a second floor balcony carrying a dog out of the corner of my eye. As I got closer I could hear he was yelling something. Then I noticed there was a dumpster below the corner of the balcony.
"Hey! What are you doing with that dog?!" I yelled.
"I'm gonna throw 'er in the dumpster!"
"Stop!" I yelled. "I'll take her!"
I ran up the stairs with Grumble following along behind and met the man face to face. He was a fowl looking man, drunken and unshaven. I could see there were children in the apartment through the cracked doorway, dirty and blonde still in their underwear.
Now I was not in some bad neighborhood. I was running off St. Charles Avenue where all the nice restaurants and mansions are and the huge oak trees line the streetcar tracks.
The man didn't have a leash so he went inside and got me a necktie. The dog was terrified. He threw a bag of dog food at me. The children's eyes looked low at me and I wished I could take them too.
The last thing I needed was a dog, however, much less any stray children. How could anyone even think to throw a dog off a balcony into a dumpster? How was this dog raised? Who could be so cruel to an innocent animal? I wondered if the children were even in school and what they were doing there.
It was difficult getting the lean, black, female dog back to my apartment with the necktie always coming loose as she would resist and then try to run forward quickly. The tie was made of a slippery material and I had a good seven or eight blocks to walk with her, the dog food and Grumble.
Finally, I got her home. I could not believe what had just happened. Now what was I going to do with this dog?
Well, first thing's first - so I gave her a bath. 'Tomorrow I'll bring her to the vet,' I thought. I made her a little bed and gave her skinny self some food and went on about the rest of my day crossing my fingers nothing else out of the ordinary would happen.
To be continued.....