Back in January this year, I came home to a message on my answering machine, it went something like this:
“Hi, I have been told you are the person to contact about Border Collies in Brisbane, there is a dog that needs a home urgently or it will be taken to the pound tomorrow, please call _ _ _ _”
I sat there for a moment, and I wondered at the power of the animal rescue world to network, I’ve never met a group of people who so tirelessly, and dare I use the pun “doggedly”, pursue a save for an animal. So I called the woman back.
A Newfoundland aged five, and a border collie aged 9, were at a property that a man had left in order to move to Melbourne. He had left the job of rehoming the two dogs to his mother.
This lovely woman had called after stumbling across the advertisement as she loved Newfoundland dogs. She had managed to get the “Newfy” into care and asked if I would take this dog on. A friend and dog foster carer, Debby Bean opened her home to this dog and I got the phone number from the ad and called.
It was soon organised, but you do learn to trust your instincts after a while in rescue, and this dog was setting off alarm bells, her name was “Maggie”. On the phone the woman complained about the dog, who in the height of a Brisbane summer was being held under the man’s house and she was telling me how she wouldn’t be able to go feed the dog that night. I offered to go pick up the dog if she would give me the address – she wouldn’t. I asked to meet her at the address – she would not give it to me. I asked if I could meet her at her house and she could bring the dog to her home – she refused. I asked to meet her at a convenient spot and she declined. She said her husband would bring the dog to Debby’s the following evening. They didn’t.
After Debby and I both tried to call after we were stood up, she then promised to bring Maggie the following day to Debby’s. I couldn’t be there but I will never forget the call after she arrived.
Maggie did arrive that night, two heavily made up women turned up in a new car, with a dog wearing a new collar that they said they had bought for $25.00 for her to go to her new home. They said Maggie had been knocked back from two grooming salons because her coat was so matted.
Debby’s voice was distraught over the phone when she called me back. Maggie’s nails were over an inch/2.5cm long. She was ill, her coat was just one big matt, she was bowel and bladder incontinent, riddled with arthritis and she was starved. The night that followed was one where she was unable to settle and Debby continued to feed her small amounts and comfort her.
The following morning she went to the vet who proclaimed that he believed her to have cancer and chronic arthritis, she was indeed suffering from what he termed “Chronic long term neglect”, she was so ill that he felt she could not be treated and we sadly had to make the decision to euthenase her. Her poor withered and abused body was kept for the RSPCA to be used as evidence. No further action was taken by them.
I’ve rarely felt so upset, and in the conversations that followed we decided that while the world might forget about the Maggies who remain out of sight, locked up, abused, uncared for and overlooked, we couldn’t.
So Maggie is with me still, she didn’t have the life a dog deserved but she has spurred me on to create something bigger than a rescue group, a co-operative where we can create a safe haven for animals in need and an environment that promotes animals in the community and assist individuals to act locally and work towards a brighter future for the Maggies of the world.
In September, I moved back to my home town of Sydney, and I am excited by the thought that there are no boundaries to what we can achieve if we remember why we wanted to remember Maggie.
It was “Maggie’s rescue” that was the last nudge I needed – run free sweet girl.