I think only succeeding once out of three tries justifies failure, so should I just give up? I should have given up when some guy pulled his car up next to me, rolled down the window and yelled, “Get in!” Oh my God, he thought I was a hooker! It was an innocent mistake. I was dressed in old moccasins, a cotton beach skirt, and loose tank top yelling, “Bambi come here, Bambi”. The sun was fading and apparently the nightlife was getting frisky, in my Hanahan hood. I’m pretty sure my look of absolute horror made him pull away without another word. I remember being so embarrassed to be yelling Bambi as my neighbors drank Forties malt liquor (it was a scene straight out of Friday), laughing at the little white girl stalking about abandoned houses as they sat comfortably on their front porches, enjoying the cool down of the evening. Yes, embarrassed, and maybe second-thinking my move from a safe tourist town to what I tell my boyfriend is an “up and coming” area, that in reality has a very high crime rate. Was I risking my life for a skinny dog named freaking Bambi?
My first foster dog from Charleston Animal Society had bailed over a low part of my fence and my loyal black lab Hagan ran into my bedroom to tattle on her with a rare, high-pitch whine. I figured out the cause of his distress when I saw through my window my new dog dash down the street. I threw on some shoes, grabbed a leash and started running after her.
I wanted to help. I wanted to provide for a poor abused animal, rehab the precious thing and then find an amazing forever home for her. One dog at a time, every little effort helps in animal rescue. I didn’t foresee an escapee in my rescue fantasy!
I cornered Bambi in an empty back yard of a house for sale and felt triumphant walking her back down my street, neighbors cheering. Then my cheap, old moccasin slippers caught on a crack in the pavement, and I literally went head over tea kettle to the ground. It could have been a scene out of a wile e coyote cartoon- except if I was a cartoon it would have been less road burn- but I swear I heard a “meep, meep” from my road running away dog. The leash had come out of my hand, and I saw that thick pink line to success go flying down the road. The neighbors went silent. We never found Bambi. I like to think she ran all the way back to her real home in the country and is curled up in a big dog bed, having nightmares of the wannabe Pocahontas chasing after her. Failure dog #1
I gave it a month or so and decided to try again. Home came one of the skinniest dogs I had ever seen in rescue. I would walk by her cell and, even though she could barely get around, she would try to get up to say hi to me. I grabbed her up in my arms and rushed her home. Animal bleeding heart to the rescue! She was fearful of everything but my handsome Hagan was the dog that all the gals get a crush on. So we used that to get her in and out of the house until she started to trust us. She wasn’t house trained or crate trained and went through a longer foster home adjustment time than usual, but all of us grew very fond of our Olive Oyle. She gained weight, house manners and confidence and was adopted in a few months. Success dog #2
Dog number three would dance around her dinner bowl, whole butt wiggling and feet tapping and that was the inspiration for her name Treme. She had a little bit of music in her step, just like the music coming from that neighborhood of New Orleans gives you. Treme had no accidents in the house and thought we were awesome. Hagan was so excited to share a yard with someone new that he ran figure eights around her with a huge grin on his face as she loped around, stretching her long legs. She was great at cuddles, and a super star at the dog park. I was going to get this one adopted quickly.
Jackson, WY is one of the most dog friendly towns in the country. No leash laws, bring them to work, take them hiking and watch them bound ahead of you with fellow happy Jackson dogs. This is what my dog grew up with, and I love to sneak out to the bigger parks and let my athletic boy bounce like a deer through the bush on occasion. I didn’t think twice when I got to Santee Park and let the two of them out of the back of the truck. I had every intention of hooking a leash on Treme and doing a couple of miles, working on leash manners as Hagan ran free. With the same damn pink leash in hand, I locked the truck and called Treme to me. My best friend owns a hound, and I knew that look: good things never came from that look. She paused, even turned to me, but wait, eyes lit up, nose catching the wind as she wrinkled her sparkling brown eyes, and I saw her ponder the decision. Go to the great human with leash or she was out of there! I had hardy sneakers on this time, and I booked after her. Even Hagan belted behind her, but the smells in the wind and a hound’s endurance won out and she disappeared. Hagan would catch a whiff of the elusive girl and take off. I pictured my loyal Lab dragging that little dog back, teeth wrapped gently around the collar, and we would all laugh at her silly hound ways! Instead, the park was closing in five minutes, and I was one dog short. I had no witnesses this time in my search and rescue attempt as I broke God knows what laws and snuck through the gaps in the fence, back into the park as the sun started to set. I ended up going home when I couldn’t see anymore and had nightmares of gators chomping Treme for dinner when she paused from her gone-with-the-wind run for a drink of fresh water. Well, thankfully, she was picked up the next day and taken back to CAS. Failure dog #3.
If you are up for a satisfying challenge, Charleston Animal Society can always use Foster Ambassadors. They will find a dog (or cat) that will fit into your lifestyle and send you home with food, supplies and an adoption vest. You can take that dog out to events around town, dog parks etc and get them adopted. It is a great motivator to get out and be involved in our city’s endless events and literally save a dog’s life.