Of all the dogs I have rescued in the last 5 years, I miss Wreniford – Wren – the most. My darling Vicki will always be the main source of my inspiration and there have been so many dogs that have come into my life and some that have gone, that motivate me to see past the sadness of dog rescue and continue on. But Wren was the most special to me, undoubtedly and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him dearly.
2 weeks before Wren ever existed in my life at all, I had completed my very first transportation. Emily joined me on a trip to Bakersfield where we picked up a beautiful, white chihuahua puppy from the pound and drove her back home. The next morning, we took off to the Bay Area where the potential adopter lived and dropped her off. She’s still with the family, living the happy life. It seemed so easy to be of help and I love to roadtrip, so I figured I could do a transport every time I got paid. Simple enough, right?
I still hadn’t learned the ways of the dog rescue community. Having transportation is a huge help, but it does nothing if the dog has no where to go. That was Wren’s case. He was shared on to my page by a Facebook friend named Lyn who lived/lives in Florida. I have never met her, like many of my dog rescue contacts, but we share information like wild fire when there’s lives at stake and Wren was on the chopping block.
So I offered to transport him anywhere in California. He was at the OC Pound, a high kill overcrowded animal facility, and he looked so sad and lonely. He was noted as a special needs dog, but the extent of his health issues were not made public. For 3 days I watched his thread, crying at work and praying for someone to step up to save him but no one was going to take him in. Without thinking, I said I would save him. I had no idea how to get him out, how to get him in to me on time or who to turn to.
But that is where the community comes in, every time. Dawn Pennington of GROWL Rescue in South Carolina has pull rights (the ability to take a dog out of a shelter under a non-profit dog rescue pull code, allowing them to save the dog without a high adoption fee or any fee at all) and knew of a local transporter who could get him out of the shelter. Finding him a place to go for 2 days before I could go pick him up was the next challenge. Christiana Coppola of a Los Angeles based dog rescue fostered him for that time period. If anyone related to Southern California dog rescues is reading this, I warn you not to work with Ms. Coppola and that’s all I will say.
So he was out! But my ability to go get him had been halted, as my car at the time stopped running the day before I was supposed to leave. I had told my parents that this little dog was going somewhere else and I had everything under control, so I didn’t feel comfortable asking them for help. At the time, I had little people to turn to with vehicles and open schedules, and in the end, I had to call on Jake, my ex-boyfriend, to get me out of this emergency.
Thankfully, he did and we drove down to Arleta on a Monday afternoon (August 17th, 2013) to go get my little boy. With each mile forward, I became more and more nervous and cried the whole way down. I didn’t know where I was going and didn’t know what to expect and came totally unprepared. We didn’t even have a crate.
When we arrived, Wren pissed all over Christiana and ran (dragged himself) away from me as fast as possible. We awkwardly got him contained and into the car and took off back home. It was sunset when we started heading back and I had Jake drive so I could spend time with Wren in the backseat. I cried the whole way back.
He wanted nothing to do with me. He snapped at me and bit me, so I had to use a towel just to pick him up. I didn’t realize what “neurological” problems meant when Christiana explained that that’s what his special needs note meant – he had spinal issues, making his back legs almost completely useless and he had no control over his urine or feces, so he shit and pissed everywhere in the car and all over me. Because he was so malnourished from the hell he had been through, any food I fed him, he threw up. I was so confused and overwhelmed. I remember stopping at an Albertson’s somewhere in the middle of the drive back and watching him scuttle around the parking lot pathetically. I had never experienced such sadness from such a tiny, innocent creature before and I was just so confused. How did he get this way? How do I fix him? How do I explain this to Mom and Dad???
We made it home late into the night, when no one was awake so no one was able to question us on what happened. But in the morning, Mom saw Wren was still with us, instead of with an adopter like I said he would be, and she wasn’t having it. At the time, Wren was dog #4 or #5, so it was the beginning of the pack. If they knew then what they know now, it wouldn’t have been such a shock but this was just the beginning. She told me to find him a home, that I coudn’t keep him, and so I went back to crying.
For the next 3 days, I cried as I tried to reach out to anyone who could possibly take him. But he was special needs, and I was new to dog rescue so I didn’t have my reputation and people didn’t understand the big deal. There was no where for him to go. So I gave up. I wanted him anyway. In those 3 days, he got his first understanding that we weren’t there to hurt him, but to help him. I don’t remember if I ever officially made it clear that he was staying with us, but as Fiona and Chiquita and so on and so forth came along, well….
It was that week of rescuing Wren that really was the deciding factor on if I would continue on that pathway. I just about had a breakdown trying to make everything work out right, but I did in the end, with the help of so many people and it was inspiring. Dreadful, and inspiring. I learned so much in that short period and figured out that there are serious limitations when rescuing, and though I needed to step back and learn some more, I would step up again. And again and again and again.
Wreniford came from a place where he had no name before me. He came from a place where the hands that touched him did not do so with kindness, but with malicious intent. He was kept in a cage his whole life basically, used as a breeder dog by someone who wasn’t licensed to legally breed and who didn’t care whether this darling dog was in pain or not. Wren only knew hands to hurt, humans to hurt. So when he came to me, I promised him that he would never know pain from a human again, only love. Since then, I have promised that to every animal who comes into my home, because they all deserve the most love anyone can give because that is exactly what they give to you.
It took time for Wren to really love me, but it happened and it changed my heart forever.
I got to watch him learn how to walk without dragging his back paws, scraping the tops of his feet into a bloody mess. He learned how to pick up his legs and run and sometimes even jump when he had enough momentum 🙂 I remember him LEAPING across the threshold of the back door to go out and walk in the grass. I remember him not knowing what grass was the first time I took him in the backyard and to the park. He grew to love it very quickly. I taught him what kisses where and that hands have a much better use rubbing bellies than anything else. “Wren RubDowns” were our nightly ritual, where I would rub his sides and his belly since he couldn’t, and his little tail would stick up straight in the air and he would streeeeeeetch out as long as possible and then bounce up and down to give me kisses when we were done. He bounced when he barked, and he barked a lot. He became the Alpha male overtime; none of the other dogs would dare defy him. Until Sparkles came along, another special needs dog with leg issues, and the argued like and old couple.
Wren had the softest neck fur in the whole world and I loved the way he smelled. I loved putting his special little belly bands on, little doggy diapers, and having to dote on him like a toddler. He was like my little baby. He made me laugh when he got spooked by his own poop (not being able to feel it and then seeing it come out of himself) and following the trail of Wren poops. His big black eyes and little mouse face were the cutest and I couldn’t kiss his little egg head enough!
All this time, anyone reading this who didn’t know him would think he was the sweetest dog but through all of this, he was a terror! He never stopped biting because he never really got over his fear of hands. When people would come over, they would bend down to pet him or pick him up because he was so adorable and then all of a sudden this monster would lunge at them with little teeth and a bouncing front end. He was so small and his teeth never properly taken care of before me, so they were rotten or just not there and his bites wouldn’t hurt but it was a shocking experience for everyone their first few times around. Kelsey’s first experience is probably my favorite: after petting and picking up several of the other dogs, she assumed that doing the same with him would be fine. She picked him and the screech that came out of him scared her so badly that she almost dropped him, but didn’t and quickly put him down again. I remember her looking so nervous because she didn’t understand why he reacted that way and we didn’t know each other very well at that point, but I laughed it off with her as I explained that he was special in more than one way.
To continue on with his legacy of having the most extraordinary of everything in life, his death was the most traumatic I’ve experienced up to this point yet. There was no warning at all and on a seemingly normal day (January 25th, 2016), as he basked in the sun like he loved to do, he suffered from a brain aneurysm. I had just stepped back inside the house to grab something when I heard him yelp. Thinking one of the bigger dogs was bullying him, I ran outside and my heart broke into a million pieces. He was all by himself, no other dogs around, and he had basically exploded in blood. It was pouring from his mouth, ears and nose and he choked to breathe and seizured in my arms.
I screamed like I had never screamed before. And Kelsey can vouch for me when I say that I can belt out a good one that will really make a person’s skin crawl, but this was the worst of them all and thankfully, no one was around to experience it first hand. I’m sure the neighbors who might’ve been home were in shock but over the years, it must’ve became a semi-normal thing to hear me quiet clearly over many acres of distance when I’ve lost a dog or gone in to some kind of dog panic mode.
I tried to get Wren into the truck and down to the vet’s as fast as I humanly could. I wanted to be gentle and I didn’t want his last moment’s to be of me screaming in horror but I don’t think I followed through on that. We made it to the front gate and his heart stopped beating. Him, the truck and myself were covered in blood. I couldn’t breathe or think or figure out how to move. Almost 3 years had passed since rescuing him and in an instant, he was gone.
After several minutes, I made it back up to the house and gave him a bath one last time. No way in hell was he going to leave this world a bloody mess. It was hard for me to get a hold of anyone right afterwards, and I felt so paralyzed by sadness. I’m grateful for my parents and for Kelsey though – once everyone was off work, they were there to support me and felt the pain of this loss with me. He was a special little guy and we loved him so much.
His passing was the most difficult one to adjust to in the weeks afterwards. Getting the feeding schedule down again was really difficult for me emotionally – my special guy had to choose between his two favorite bowls every night, and had different meals made for him when he was being a picky eater. Things got so much more simple without him and I hated it. No one needed their diaper changed. No one was crying to be covered up by a mountain of blankets, just to run out from under them and start whining again. When we slept, he always always always took the space behind my knees. When he was gone, the whole sleeping arrangement dissolved and has never been reestablished since. He gave us order, the lil grumpus. He demanded his spot in my life and goddamn, he made a permanent one.
It hasn’t even been a year yet, but I still miss him everyday. I miss him out here in the new house. He had came out here at least once before, if not twice. I remember on one of the visits, we stopped at Red Rocks and he walked the WHOLE trail, while both Scooter and Fiona had to be carried at some parts. He was such a trooper, a little warrior man. He would’ve loved to be here with us now, he would’ve LOVED that I’m not working and get to stay home with all of the dogs every day.
I think about the little guy all the time. I want to rescue another like him, in the way of having neurological problems and being a senior. There won’t ever be another like him with such a devilish attitude in such an angel body, not as well played as him anyway. But I always want a special needs dog in my life because of him. My life had these certain quirks to it because of him but I loved it all. He was so worth it and he taught me that this is all worth it. That the pain of remembering him is worth the love I got and what I will get again with so many more dogs that I rescue in the future.
If there is an afterlife, please please please let it be a paradise over the Rainbow Bridge, where I can see my little man again. Him and all of my babies come and gone. I hope I’ll get to love them again ❤