Compassion that Looks Beyond Reason and Means
For thousands of years humans have bred dogs to benefit us, to protect us, to be our companions, and even to love us. And yet millions of dogs leave this life without ever having been loved or had a person to help and love. Sometimes a dog for whom there seems to be no hope is snatched back from death’s door and given the chance to experience human love before passing on.
One hot day last August, a mastiff was standing in the middle of a busy Albuquerque intersection, injured and in shock. An elderly couple who knew nothing about dogs saw him and had to stop. As mastiffs go, Turner is quite small, but still a sizable dog. The kind but inexperienced couple did not realize that even the most gentle dog might bite when injured. Yet their trust was rewarded, and Turner got in their car. Fortunately, they contacted the right people: Kate and Wally, a couple well-known for their compassion for animals, who immediately took Turner into their home.
We know nothing about Turner’s previous life except for the stories we can read in the scars that cover his body, from nose to broken tail. The fresh wounds were to the front of his legs, where all the skin was gone. Perhaps someone had purposefully dragged him behind a car? X-rays later revealed many broken bones, never set, and a badly damaged spine. We don’t know how old he is—vets guess anywhere from 5 to 8 years.
We wondered what kind of dog would emerge when the cloud of pain cleared from his brain. Would he be vicious? Considering the “training” he had endured, he might even have the right to be. In spite of everything, the spirit that emerged wagged his tail and gave love and appreciation. His new protectors had known that all along.
The months went by as Kate and Wally continued to nurse Turner back to health. Keeping his legs wrapped was practically a full-time job, made more difficult by his special talent for quickly destroying e-collars. Several people were interested in adopting him, but as it became apparent how much ongoing care he would need, Kate and Wally realized he would be theirs for keeps. Nobody can say how long this badly damaged body can go on, but he will be loved and cared for as long as he is here. “Til death do us part,” I think I heard it said.
Eventually the bandages came off, and it was about then that Turner swallowed a tennis ball. It seems he does not always behave in his own best interest. Surgery and many vet bills later, he has recovered from that setback and is regaining some weight. Unfortunately, he still must wear a muzzle when not in sight of his people, as he will chew on his injured legs if he gets the opportunity.
A few days ago, I accompanied Wally, Kate, and Turner on the short walk they enjoy every day. Due to his spinal injuries, it is getting harder for him to walk, but nobody is giving up. They are now researching the wheelchairs that have
extended the lives of many dogs.
Not many of us are able to give our time and resources as unselfishly as Kate and Wally, but I can see that Turner is doing all he can to repay them with love and kisses and a wagging tail. I know that they feel well rewarded.
Kate and Wally continue to pay Turner’s huge ongoing vet bills. Donations to support the loving care they are giving this dog can be made through Bro & Tracy Animal Welfare, P.O. Box 404, Corrales, NM 87048. This nonprofit rescue organization was founded by photographer Joyce Fay.