What caught “The Matchmaker’s” (my) eye was a post shared by a friend who was pleading for someone to help a female bird dog who’d been shot in the left foreleg – probably while chasing someone’s chickens. When you’re a hungry bird dog and there is food on the ground, what else do you do? To her, a bunch of chickens must have looked like a free all-you-can-eat buffet.
In the photos, she’s sporting a (presumed) white coat with an orange-patterned face and ears and liver roan spots. She’s a beauty – a Brittany Spaniel (her breed name now shortened to Brittany by the AKC) who may have delivered a litter of pups at some point in the past, but who is now thin and weak, bitten and shot, needing a chance at life in a rural county overrun with strays and no animal control facility with a shelter. The couple who were trying to help the dog find a home said she’d been there a little over a week, hiding out under his truck. They’d sought an owner and searched for puppies but came up empty. They couldn’t keep her because she’d tried to chase their own chickens, and they presumed that this is how she’d ended up with a bullet wound here in this particular neck of the woods where most families have some kind of livestock. She’d messed with the wrong chickens in rural Georgia, which might get anybody shot in these parts.
I contacted Ken about her the evening of my birthday.
“I think I might have found your dog,” I told him, and shared her story. I put him in touch with the caretaking couple so that he could ask questions and get a feel for the dog’s demeanor and outlook. After talking with them, he agreed to meet the dog and see if they’d be a good match for each other – or help nurse her back to health at the very least.
The next morning, I would leave the campground and drive an hour east to pick her up at 7:00 a.m. from the place where she’d been staying, and take her for a walk-in vet visit when the doors opened to be sure the wound would heal and get a heartworm test before meeting my brother between Atlanta and St. Simon’s Island in Little Ocmulgee State Park. We had a game plan.
Once I’d picked her up, I stopped by our house on the way to the vet to unbandage the wound, flush it with hydrogen peroxide, and re-bandage it. I wanted to see for myself how deep the bullet had gone. As the couple had shared, it did appear to be only a shallow puncture wound, not likely to have broken a bone. Still, she wasn’t putting any weight on her left paw. She let me flush the wound without whimpering or trying to get away. Smart girl. Tough girl. Resilient girl. She knew I was trying to help her. Here on my tiled laundry room floor, I saw a dog with a will to live, to trust. To love. The eyes told everything.
After calling five veterinary hospitals starting with the one we use for our three dogs and learning they were all closed on Saturdays, I contacted a 24-hour emergency vet and took her to Woodland Animal Hospital in Locust Grove. They were legally bound to follow the stray dog protocol, so I was only able to get her vitals checked, get her a single pain pill for the gunshot wound, and get a microchip scan – even though I’d been prepared to pay for more thorough care and call her mine temporarily. They refused to do a well-dog check or a heartworm test or administer any shots because of Georgia State Laws, so in exchange for one oral pain pill they placed in her mouth, I signed the Good Samaritan statement and loaded her back into the car to begin our journey to her new home. The best news: the wound was not life-threatening, she had no microchip to link her to a former owner, and the pain pill helped her drift off to sleep on the back seat while we drove south on I-75.
I couldn’t wait for Oakley (my name for her, named for Annie Oakley) to meet my baby brother.
But we had one more important stop to make before continuing along our journey southward.
*According to PetSmart, July 11-17 is National Adoption Week for Pet Smart Charities and The Anti-Cruelty Society. From Tuesday through Friday, I will be sharing the story of my brother’s journey to a new companion.