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Written by Pam Green first published on the Bouvier Mail List, Dec 25, 1997, published again Dec '99

RESCUE retrospective 
Xmas 97

This Xmas marks my 10th anniversary in Bouvier Rescue. Yes it was just before Xmas of 87 that I did my first rescue. Time sure flies when you are having fun.

Late in the day of the 22nd , '87 I got a call from Ellen Haro, my Obed teacher. She is a long time breeder and rescuer of Belgian Sheepdogs and that day one of her students & owner of dogs she'd bred had gone to the Sac county pound to investigate call that there was a Belgian there, and while there had spotted a Bouvier. 

So of course I instantly phoned the pound, getting thru a few minutes before closing time (could not possibly have driven there to arrive before closing). Yes, there was a Bouv and she would go up for adoption at opening time tomorrow, 10 am and if not adopted would be killed the next day before the pound closed early for Xmas Eve. (In those days two days of up-for-adoption was the best that any of the unclaimed dogs got. It's better nowadays, at least for those dogs who are triaged as "adoptable".) So I told them I would be there at opening and please please don't kill her. I also phoned Chelsea's breeder who lived very close to the pound and asked if she was on duty for work tomorrow (she's a nurse) or if not could she hold herself ready to run to the pound to bail the dog if anything went wrong for me (e.g. car trouble); yeah she could. 

I was there well before doors opened, collar and leash in hand. Out came a very withdrawn and unbelievably matted and filthy Bouv bitch -- complete with stench so bad it would knock a hyena off its feet - -- but definitely a Bouv, cropped and docked. Paid her bail and loaded her into the front of my truck (I didn't even own a crate in those days and it wouldn't have occurred to me that maybe she would not be well enough behaved to ride in front and that I should have found way to secure her in the back for sake of safety in driving home as well as for sake of not barfing from the smell.) 

(I THINK I probably ran past Dog Show Specialties on the way home to buy a mat splitter and a huge bottle of creme rinse.) got home and straight into the bathtub, me climbing in with her. I was so ignorant in those days that I tried to salvage her coat and just get the mats out and the stench out. She was wearing "cement britches" made of matted hair and her own feces and urine. Her skin underneath was pretty raw in spots but not as bad as I now realize it might have been -- i.e. not putrid or maggoty. 

Several hours later we climbed out of the tub. She still had some mats but my hands were ready to fall off. Spent that Xmas eve sitting in front of the fire in the fireplace, probably watching something on TV, with my own two dogs and my absent roommates' (both had taken off to spend Xmas with family) dogs and the new rescue sleeping peacefully along side, filled with an awareness that at that very moment she would have been several hours dead if Ellen's friend had not brought her to my attention. 

I had a few bitter thoughts about "Peace on Earth , Goodwill to Men" meaning "and Death to Dogs, so the pound workers can go home early" and thoughts about all the Xmas puppies bought on impulse who would be dying in the pounds at or before Easter and who would not get resurrected. But I'd look over at this clean and relaxed and starting to feel happy bitch, this bitch who was getting a new and better life, and I'd feel really good. It was a nice way to spend Xmas eve.

I named her "Ariane" which is the French version of "Ariadne" (look it up in your Greek mythology book).

Over the next 5 or 6 years I worked my way thru the alphabet, naming each rescue in turn. Then the next couple of dogs arrived with known names, so I didn't go thru the alphabet again -- and by now I'd probably be getting close to the end of the second trip through.

Last night I spent the eve comfortably on my bed with my own four dogs jig sawed around me -- yeah all four can make it if we all coordinate our breathing -- and with Duke on the floor next to us, with a good fire in the woodstove heating the house to more or less 60 degrees and watching Skate International. And well aware that Duke would have been over 10 weeks dead if so many people on this list had not acted to save him. It's still a nice way to spend Christmas.

And what more Miracle do any of us need than to have a part in giving life back to a dog ???

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