There was an older woman that we helped for a couple of years with her two dogs. They were outdoor dogs, but they were not chained, ran free in the yard and had good dog houses, thanks to Chain of Hope. She really only needed help with food once in a while, but she didn’t call that often. After a year or so, her younger dog got out of the yard and ran off and she never found him. That left her with Snowball, an older Chow mix. The woman told us that now that she only had the one dog, she could afford to feed him and she didn’t call us anymore.

We did not hear from her for almost the entire last year and then one day in July, when it was very, very hot and humid out, she called. She left a message over the weekend in a pretty panicky voice that she had gone out to call Snowball and that he was under her deck and wouldn’t come out. She said he had flies all over him, so she had called her sister and she said that her sister had come over, gotten him out from under there and bathed him and tried to get the flies off of him, but they needed help.

Erica, Amy and I headed over there on Sunday. We knocked on the door and the woman’s adult daughter answered the door. She said that Snowball wasn’t doing very well. She told us that he was 15 yrs. old. He was in the back yard and she told us to go on around and see him. We went around the side of the house and looked over the fence, scanned the yard and hollered for him. We didn’t see him anywhere and then I looked straight down to the bottom of a retaining wall, and there laid Snowball. His head was up and he was looking around, but he couldn’t hear us calling him because he was now deaf. I squeezed through a hole in the fence and went down to him. His coat was dirty and matted. He had flies all over him-especially all around his butt area. He had matted feces all around his butt and tons of flies. Poor old boy.

Erica and Amy came down to sit with him, while I went around front to talk to the daughter. I told her we needed to take him with us and she agreed. Her mother had told her that if we needed to take him to let us, so she signed our relinquishment form. We got a slip lead and went back to Snowball. We helped him up off the ground and then he could walk. Amy walked him around to the front of the house. The daughter came over and told him good-bye and we loaded him in the van. We noticed that Snowball’s breathing was rather heavy. It wasn’t labored breathing, but it definitely made us think about things like advanced heart worm disease, congestive heart failure or something like that. We got him back to Chain of Hope in the late afternoon.

Since we always change their names when they leave their old life, we named him Napoleon. It usually doesn’t confuse them, because a lot of them don’t even come to the name the owner tells us, simply because they are never talked to, interacted with very much, etc. We made Napoleon comfortable. We gave him a Capstar to kill all of his fleas right away. We gave him a pain pill for his obvious arthritis, gave him a good meal and put him to bed. We’d deal with everything else the next day-now he needed to sleep in the air conditioning and get a good night’s sleep. He was so tired, he fell asleep in the floor.

The next day, Tanner went to work on his coat, the dried feces clumped around his butt, etc. There is no way that anyone had attempted to bathe this boy. Poor Napoleon had scars on his ears from years of the flies getting on there. About the only good thing was that he was a good body weight. As Tanner began working on his back end, Napoleon cried-it was very sore. As Tanner got more and more of the hair off of there, we began seeing open wounds and maggots. There were tons of maggots in a big open wound on the underside of his tail. He had several sores all up and down his tail. It stunk very badly and was obviously infected and painful. It was all rotten flesh.  Tanner shaved about half of him, but we knew we had to get him over to the vet. His breathing was pretty deep-he didn’t look good. He could not get up off the floor on his own.

Tanner and I took him over to one of our vets. Napoleon’s tail was rotten, it was just putrid. His sores went deep into the tissue. The only way to treat this was to amputate his tail and poor, old Napoleon would not be able to withstand the anesthesia. The vet said with the way his heart was, he would most likely not wake up if they put him under. He tested positive for heart worms, hence his difficult breathing.

This was a very sad situation and these are the difficult decisions that we must make on a daily basis. It is never easy. We decided that we needed to humanely euthanize Napoleon. We have to first think about the suffering of the animal. Watching Napoleon breathe, we did not think that he would make it through anesthesia.  The vet said his heart did not sound good at all.  Tanner and I comforted and loved on Napoleon as he left this world. We hate being in this position, it is so depressing.

We get the majority of our medical calls at the 11th hour-usually when the animal has been suffering for quite some time. I sent a woman over to our vet today that did not have any money. She had a 15 yr. old dog with a tumor on his abdomen the size of a basketball! Obviously, this had been growing for a while, but we get the calls when we often can do nothing, except provide a loving, humane euthanasia. It is very hard to do and this summer seems like we’ve had a lot of it. Of course, we get angry at the condition of some of these animals before the owner finally calls for help. We were very upset to find maggots in Napoleon, of course it made us angry, but we must concentrate on the fact that this owner did call for help. These are animals that would have laid there and died in a back yard, a basement, a living room floor-wherever, possibly alone and suffering. There is now a resource for lower income people to have their animals humanely euthanized and it’s called Chain of Hope. Not everyone can provide this service, but it is crucial in the inner city and God gives us the strength to be able to do it. We have provided a humane passing to more animals that I can count. We just don’t put all of those stories on here because it is so depressing, but there have been many. Unfortunately, it’s very necessary.

We continue to march on in Napoleon’s memory. We have to-we know what’s out there.