Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 6-18-12
A man and his grandson were walking along a beach early one morning. The shore was littered with hundreds of live starfish that had washed up during the night. With no way to propel themselves, they were at the mercy of the surf. If a wave didn’t return them to the ocean, they were destined to die in the blistering sun. This disturbed the boy and he started tossing them back into the water. His grandfather said, “There are so many. You can’t save them all. Your efforts aren’t gonna make any difference.” The sensitive boy looked the old man in the eye. As he tossed one more stranded starfish back into the water, he said, “It will to This One!”
I try to remember that story every time I take in an old horse or orphaned goat and work to help it survive. My friend April made a difference to a little dog she got from the humane society. It was a brown Chihuahua/Dachshund cross – a “chiweanie” named Cindy Lou. April and Scott already had a dog, Pepper, but he had lost his eyesight, so they adopted Cindy as a seeing eye dog for him. Pepper and Cindy hit it off right away. They played together constantly and she learned to patiently wait for him to follow her whenever they went outside. Besides the trauma of being abandoned, Cindy endured two major surgeries shortly after her adoption. She recovered quickly and in a few months was fitting into the busy routine at the ranch.
Scott taught her how to chase the cows out of the yard. When she’d moved them far enough away, he’d stop her with the traditional cowdog command, “That’ll do.” She’d wag her slender tail proudly. She kept the chickens out of the yard, too. She was very hospitable and greeted all visitors upon arrival and walked them back to their trucks as they were leaving. But her favorite part of the day was when Scott let her out of the house to do her deed in the afternoons. Afterwards she’d hop on the back of his four wheeler and they’d finish the afternoon chores together.
She always ran to the same spot – a little cedar brake behind the house. And when she did, she usually scared up a rabbit. One afternoon when she trotted out to her potty stop, she ran across the path of a rattlesnake. He struck her in the right flank as she went after the rabbit. Scott was outside cooking a huge vat of fresh plums that he was making into homemade jelly.
He heard Cindy start howling. She dashed towards the house right as April came outside. They weren’t sure if she’d been snake bit because they initially saw only one puncture wound and no blood. April’s father came out to check on Cindy who was still yelping in pain. He took one look at her side and confirmed their fears.
April rushed Cindy to the vet only to hear a grim prognosis. The venom would travel directly into her intestines and spread throughout her body April cradled the suffering dog in her arms as tears dropped softly on its black nose. She lived until after midnight. Scott wrapped the dog in a fuzzy blanket he’d bought her from Cabella’s and buried her in the pet cemetery behind their house.
No dog is replaceable, but soon April went back to the pound to rescue another unwanted dog. She was afraid they wouldn’t let her have one after what happened to Cindy. But the staff agreed that she’d been loved and cared for even for the short few months that she was a part of their family. They listened in tears to the sad saga of her death. April came home with another dachshund they named Lacey. But since it’s been such a short time since they lost his little pet, Scott often calls her the wrong name. They laugh through their tears and try to adjust to another change in their lives.