Monday, December 14, 2009

The heart breaking side of animal rescue

My friend Laura just returned from a trip up north from Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. She shares on her blog the harsh realities of the bitter winters and how a puppy in the middle of the night strayed away from his litter mates, and almost freezes to death - his still frozen body found at dawn.

It's been a year since my last trip to Red Lake Rosie's. Memories come flooding back of last winter when I first met Ahnung. My first trip was in October with Laura. I returned in November to bring Ahnung back to the cities. By then winter had already arrived with frigid temperatures. The Red Lake Rosie's shelter was overflowing and Ahnung had been moved from a kennel she had in October with her puppies to an igloo and hanging out with the big dog clan. Ahnung and I took a trip to Red Lake Rosie's last December to spend a week up north with Karen and to help her with chores. On my trip last December a blizzard hit, and we got over a foot of snow. Surrenders of dogs and cats continue, chores continue, fighting to keep the dogs and puppies warm continue ... Laura accurately describes what a trip up north in the middle of the harsh winters is like ...

"Winter has come to Red Lake Rosie's. And it has arrived with a vengeance. Temperatures fell to 13 below zero. Chores are done mostly in the dark wearing so many layers it is hard to even move. Water freezes in the dog pails in no time. Short haired dogs shiver to keep their body temps up. They walk on three legs because the snow stings their paws. Calls come in daily telling of more dear ones left at the dump, thrown away like last night's pizza boxes. Kennels are full to overflowing with dogs and puppies fighting to stay alive through the frigid night.

One pup, Clarence, almost did not make it. He strayed away from his littermates during the night and old man winter grabbed him. His still cold body was found at dawn and was rushed to the warmth of the cat house where he was given warm water to get his blood circulating again. Somehow that little guy fought back with all he had left and is now on a slow recovery back to health. That was my first eye opening glimpse into what winter is like on the rez. And it broke my heart. My tears frozen to my cheek. But there is no time for sorrow or pity. Emotions are pushed aside because there is so much work to be done in order to save the rest
." [For her full blog posting visit Rescue Buddy Boarding].

Last December I experienced the brutal winter along with Ahnung. Last December, Ahnung was one of the lucky few who no longer had to sleep outside in the frigid cold, huddled up in an igloo next to a fellow homeless dog. We helped Karen with chores during the day ... we were lucky because when we got cold we had a place to warm up and find refuge. At night, we slept in the warmth of the cat house, curled up under blankets. Meanwhile, many others shivered through the night in their outdoor kennels despite all of Karen's efforts to protect them from the unforgiving cold and wind with tarps and blankets. One night while we were there we heard noise outside in the shelter ... Karen couldn't sleep because she was worried about the puppies. At 2 in the morning, windchills in minus 30s, she was transferring one puppy after another to a small kennel where they could huddle up and have more protection from the frigid cold.

Tugged by my heart to do something immediately, I am asking myself to slow down and think --- be strategic, be purposeful and figure out what's the most effective way we can help Karen at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. I have the utmost respect for Karen and the work she does. I will also be forever grateful for all the animals she has rescued and especially for Ahnung.

Laura in her blog posting is right .... while I sit here in front of my laptop, my pups (Ahnung, Missy and Mister) by my side on their dog beds ... we are warm. Ahnung can sleep soundly without her body jerking her awake from shivering uncontrollably. For a woman who has dedicated her life to eliminating the suffering of animals, it's now our turn, as a community to come together to help Karen continue the absolutely incredible work she is doing.

We will do just that. Somehow. Some way.


  1. Claire, Jen K, and I are all onboard for whatever we can do to help! Just let us know - we're also planning a trip up in a few weeks :)

  2. I understand. Please keep up the good work. :)