Saturday, June 16, 2012

Little Doug: Forever in our Hearts

Once again, my heart feels like it’s been through the shredder. I’m haunted my Lil Doug’s face. This is his story.

Little Doug arrives at Animal Care Clinic
Last Wednesday, my partner in crime (with Leech Lake Legacy), Jenny F, gets a call from the animal control officer up at Leech Lake Reservation. He got a call that a puppy was laying on the side of the road and had been hit by a car. He wanted our okay to take the puppy to the vet clinic up in Bemidji. Jenny immediately calls the clinic to give authorization to take the puppy in, evaluate him and administer whatever pain meds necessary. We get a call later that they think he may have a broken pelvic bone. He is unable to walk and move the lower part of his body. They are needing to express his bladder. We ask the clinic to take x-rays to confirm if Doug, the puppy, has a broken pelvis. Meanwhile, Jenny reaches out to our contact Jen F at the Animal Humane Society about Lil Doug. There is a transport coming down to the cities from Red Lake Reservation and our volunteer up north Nancy O works to coordinate transport so that Lil Doug can hitch a ride to the cities on Thursday. The vet at the Bemidji clinic shares with Nancy O on Thursday morning when she comes to pick up Doug that it appears that Lil Doug has been shot. He doesn’t have any broken bones. He has 3 bullets all close to his spinal cord. The sweet little 8 week old puppy is unable to walk and to move the lower part of his body.

Lil Doug hitches a ride to the cities with Denise who is transporting cats and kittens from Red Lake Reservation to be placed with rescues. Doug gets to ride in the passenger seat in an open crate and keeps Denise company on the 3 hour ride from Bemidji to Golden Valley AHS. Denise shares with us when she arrives at AHS that she’s been talking to him and giving him lots of love.  It breaks my heart to see this tiny puppy, unable to move and get around. Jenny picks him up and holds him and he doles out lots of puppy kisses. How is it that a puppy who has been shot, possibly paralyzed, been through hell still trust humans and is full of love? How could anyone just shoot a puppy and leave them on the side of the road to suffer and die? I’m struggling to not be consumed by anger and rage at the injustice of this all – at the harsh reality that humans inflict pain on such innocent, trusting beings!
Lil Doug arrives on Thursday, 6/14 - he rides
in style in an open crate in the Denise's passenger seat

We carry Lil Doug into AHS. He is held, given lots of kisses and doles out lots of kisses to Jenny, myself and the AHS staff who are there to welcome him. It was almost 6 pm before Doug arrived from his journey. The shelter vets were gone for the day so Doug’s x-rays couldn’t be looked at till the next morning when he would also be checked out. Anne J, the site manager of Golden Valley AHS, was there along with several others to ensure Doug was well cared for. Melissa (animal care tech lead at AHS) heads off to get Lil Doug’s luxury accommodations set up J She comes back to get the little squirt who has just snarfed down some wet food and continued to give kisses to anyone who got close enough to his adorable puppy face. Jenny and I follow Melissa and Lil Doug back to Ward G where he will be spending the night. Nice comfy, cushy fleece blankets are set up for him. Since he’s unable to get around on his own we place the water bowl next to him so he can get a drink. My heart breaks, once again, as I look into the eyes of this incredibly sweet puppy as he struggles to move. I am hoping and praying for a miracle.

Early the next morning I texted Melissa to see how Lil Doug was doing. His kennel was full of poop and he was covered in urine. She gave the little guy a bubble bath, and fed him a very yummy breakfast which he once again, snarfed down. I’m still praying for a miracle. I’m praying the bullet can be removed, that he can some day walk again, and that he can tear around open fields and back yards, chew on toys and shoes and whatever else puppies get into, and go for long walks with some loving new mom and/or dad.
Doug's x-ray show the 3 bullets

Around noon I get a call on my cell phone as I’m leaving Lake Harriet Veterinary after picking up a refill of Chinese herbs for my girl Ahnung. I answer the phone. It’s Dr. Josh from  Golden Valley AHS. “I’m sorry I don’t have good news for you about Doug.” I have this sinking feeling in my stomach. He tells me one of the bullets is in Doug’s spinal cord. The 2nd bullet is right next to his spinal cord and the 3rd one is close by. He is paralyzed – permanently paralyzed and the organs in the lower part of his body aren’t functioning. His bladder isn’t working and leaks urine and will need to have his bladder expressed 3-4 times a day. He has no control over his bowel movements. I’m hearing words .. but they’re just words and they become background noise and my heart feels like it’s on fire and can’t take in any information … as Dr. Josh gently shares more information, it’s like the time I heard my vet tell me ‘I’m sorry, Ahnung has cancer, and it’s an invasive aggressive cancer.” After a couple minutes, I ask Dr. Josh … “I know it’s probably not fair for me to ask you this …” He interrupts me, gently saying, “ask me anything.” After a short pause, “What would you do? We want to do the right thing for Doug. We don’t want him to suffer, but we also want to give him every opportunity.” I know in the end that Jenny and I will have to make the decision. “If Doug were my puppy, I would let him go.” And in that moment, my gut was saying the exact same thing. But I needed to see little Doug again, to be with him, in hopes that he would tell us what’s the right thing to do.
Little Doug in his kennel. Poor baby is unable
to move to even get a drink of water.

Jenny and I met at AHS later in the afternoon. Lynn H, vet tech supervisor at AHS, was there to meet us. Over and over again as we have worked to rescue and rehome the animals up at Leech Lake Reservation, in partnership with AHS, Lynn has been there for us on so many levels. As we walk into the intake area, she walks up to Jenny and hugs her tightly. She then comes to me and gives me a huge, tight hug. “I am so sorry” she says. I can feel Little Doug’s spirit. He is there with all of us. There’s still a part of me that refuses to accept we can’t save Doug. We go back to Ward G. Dr. Josh joins us - he says it’s time to express his bladder again and he goes over the findings of the x-rays with both Jenny and me, the results of his exam and shares with us the severity of the spinal injury. “It will never get better … I am very sorry.” After a year of working so closely with us, Lynn knows that Jenny and I want to spend time out side with little Doug; we need to talk about it; and we need to be as sure as we can about any decision we make. I’ve been holding Doug tightly and giving him lots of kisses. Lynn tells us she’s been carrying him around at work and he’s been getting lots of kisses and love all day. It makes me smile to know the little boy has been feeling love since he was rescued from the side of the road. As I hand Doug off to Jenny my shirt is all wet with urine. We sit down on the grass outside and Jenny sets him on her lap. He can’t get comfortable. He also decides to leave a little poop surprise on her lap … it doesn’t bother either one of us, but the reality of the severity of his injury is apparent. He’s calm when he’s being held against your chest. When you set him on your lap on even on the ground he struggles to find a position that’s comfortable. It broke my heart to see his frustration. Jenny and I both knew in our hearts that the most humane thing to do was to free little Doug’s spirit from a body that had been damaged (by humans). My heart physically hurt. I was angry. I wanted to scream and to curse, and quite frankly, inflict pain on the individual who would commit such a cruel, heartless, act on an innocent puppy. The other part of me kicked in … the part of me that strives every day to fill my heart with love, compassion, understanding, patience, non-judgment. The cycle of violence can’t be broken with more violence. I looked into lil Doug’s eyes and all I could see was love. Dear sweet lil Doug … help me be more like you.
Spending time with Lil Doug on Friday, 6/15

Friday, June 15th, 2012: Jenny and I make the heart wrenching decision to be with little Doug and to hold him and love him as he crosses Rainbow Bridge. I push all feelings of rage and anger aside. I find some comfort in knowing that little Doug did not have to die alone, by the side of the road, and would never be subjected to any more abuse or suffering. And I return to the moment. What matters in that moment is Little Doug; what matters is that he knows he is loved; what matters is that he knows he is safe; what matters is to hold onto that pure, innocent, trusting love that Little Doug carried despite all he went through …

Lynn and Jen F of AHS and Jenny and myself surround Doug with love. Jenny holds him as I stroke his face. Tears are falling and I whisper to him, “Now go run and play in the field.”

Little Doug was a survivor. His story must be told. There is good that has to come out of this. The cycle of violence and abuse must stop.

Sweet lil Doug … you have touched the hearts of so many, and you will forever be with us ….

Thanks to everyone who helped make Doug’s last 48 hours filled with love and as much comfort as possible: to Rory (Leech Lake animal control officer), to Animal Care Clinic in Bemidji, to Nancy and Tom O for picking him up from the clinic and meeting the transport from Red Lake Rez to the cities; to Karen G for making sure little Doug had a place in the Denise’s passenger seat on the transport to the cities; to Dr. Josh, Anne J., Lynn H., Jen F, Melissa C of AHS for your support and kindness and care of little Doug; and to Jenny F for walking along side of me, and your tireless devotion to these precious animals. 


  1. This is so sad Marilou. Hearing stories like this just makes you question humanity sometimes. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Please consider submitting this as an article in the Animal Sheltering publication!!!

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