Tag Archives: Charlie’s story

Charlie’s Story — 5: The Finalé “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words” #photography #humanitarianism #heroes #dogs #rescue


Here are some pictures from the rescue site, of Mini on her own the day before the reunion and of the reunion and the ride home.

If you’re just catching this post now and you haven’t read any of their story, please start here at “Something About Mini.”

This is Mini on Thursday Morning, January 2, safe and sound in Maryland, but definitely needing some nursing pups.

This is Mini on Thursday Morning, January 2, safe and sound in Maryland, but definitely needing some nursing pups. (I said I wasn’t going to say anything in this post, but I have to say this. Call me a weirdo, but Mini looks distracted here. If you compare her to the later images after her pups’ rescue, she just seems … content later.)

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Ahhh! Charlie and Tip.

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Charlie and Tip preparing for the ride home in a nice warm jacket. They look so tired and dare I anthropomorphize again and suggest: relieved??

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All Dogs In The Caaaaar! Annnnd, they’re out. I think that’s Charlie’s butt on the far right, I can see some of his brown wool.

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Um. Yeah. This is where they were lived and from where they were rescued. Here’s me… I’m thinking while I’m imagining this story, and before seeing these images, “trailer” “ramshackle” “dilapidated” and “fixer-upper.” It never occurred to me that upon the countless properties I’ve driven past in my lifetime which resemble this image, that anything, six anythings in fact, could be living in them. This whole thing brings a new perspective to me.

Roof, anyone?

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Believe it or not, this is a different view. All this cozy homesteading can be yours for the low, low price of … your soul.

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Over here, we have a lovely al fresco dining nook, complete with convenient trash depository area. When I saw these pictures, all I thought was “crack den” and feared “loose needles…”
Amy … Michele … holy canoli. You are heroes!

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Amy captioned this one, “The beginning of the tunnel under the foundation.” I think this is where she started digging. With her bare hands. At night. In 28˚ and falling temps.

this is where they were found. this is the hole Amy dug.

this is where they were found. this is the hole Amy dug.

Amy is a photographer. These next pics are so lovely. This is the ease I was suggesting earlier in Mini’s disposition.

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Amy and Michele — I remain speechless and humbled by your commitment. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Several readers have asked me if the dogs have all been placed. Yes. All the dogs have been placed. Everyone’s heart just grew that much bigger…

Thank you.

ps — all of these images are copyright of and appear courtesy of Amy Santiago, (c) 2014.

Charlie’s Story — 4: “Who Wants to Go Car?” #dogs #rescue #heroes


So I told you all that the women who rescued Charlie and his mom, Mini and his sibs Freckles, Tip, Drama and Sleepy were named Annie and Mandi. I also told you those names were fake, because I didn’t want to disclose their names without their permission. I received permission. Annie is really Amy and Mandi is really Michele.

If you’re new here, please go to the first installment of this story. You’ll be glad you did.

When we last left Amy and Michele, Amy was desperately and exhaustedly trying to get Freckles from the teardown. It was terribly late, cold and she was soaked. She was calling in a favor, so to speak… Just not with the use of a phone. Those of you who have a sense of intuition and familiarity with channeling your friends as models in various moments will completely understand when Amy said, “My friend Margo is an animal catcher extraordinaire. She can get cats out from when they’re stuck between walls and other situations and so I just summoned her. You just need to go for it and see what happens. I feel like that’s what you need to do when you catch animals.”

“I’m not a natural animal-catching type person, but I thought of Margo and I just shoved my hand through the hole … and he started licking me. But the hole wasn’t big enough for the puppy and the puppy was too scared to come out. So for the longest time I would sit there and put my hand in and pull it out slowly, but he wouldn’t come out. He was the most stubborn … So again, I summoned Margo. I put my hand in and grabbed as much fur as I could just yanked as hard as I could against the hole and … he came out.”

“And then, he was just a little puppy! He still backed away and you couldn’t touch him without him flinching, but he was out, and fine, healthy and wonderful.”

Here’s me: Amy, you are officially an animal-catching type person now. Well done!

The seven-hour saga was over. Finally. There wasn’t a sixth puppy that they could discern, and it seemed as though everyone was where they needed to be.

It was after 3:00am.

After this, Amy and Michele, took Mini and her puppies to the nearby Days Inn hotel where they ate bologna and bread, probably their first solid food ever, and stayed until morning. No one slept though. The puppies spent a good deal of what was left of the predawn darkness screaming at the walls.

“I had made the error of telling someone at another hotel that we had rescued these puppies and they told me we were going to have to pay for any mess, so we left and went to the Days Inn… and we didn’t tell them about the puppies,” Amy said.

Although sleep was a nice idea, the fact is that no one was really able. The adrenaline rush from finally getting all the dogs out safely and then watch them eat bologna and bread was all Amy and Michele could ask for. “We just sat together on the floor for like a really long time, and watched them just be alive, and then we tried to sleep.”

“When we eventually woke up in the morning, the pup we named Sleepy, was the only one who was still asleep after everyone work up. Before that she was nameless, but then that seemed to work for her, since she was still asleep.”

So before heading home, for Maryland, Amy and Michele went back to the site in the daytime to make sure, absolutely sure that there wasn’t a sixth puppy and to try to get the male dog who was with Mini earlier. I know you guys were likely wondering… But they went back. They could see in the daylight that this wasn’t a trailer park at all. It was just three trailers, one that was absolutely decrepit, the one where the dogs were and the one where the kind woman lived and another abandoned one.

“We had a long conversation with the woman’s found out that there are all sorts of dogs that go through there. There’s one with a curly tail and another one — a bunch of other strays that come in and out of there who eat the leftover good she puts out. And so we tried to get the dad, by leaving food and Mini out, but she was food-aggressive against him, so that wasn’t going to work out because she ran him off from the perimeter of the car. So then, there was just no way. If Mini wasn’t on board, there was no way we’d be able to get him in the car with us. But we stayed there a few hours and then we went and spoke with some cops and see if they could help us. We were there a while trying to work that out.” It was hard to leave them all behind.

Amy told me that when they were ready to leave to head back home and call it a day and a half, they laid out the blankets in the back of the car and the dogs all laid together as a group. “But for at least a half hour to an hour, the dogs were screaming and yelping and howling in the back of the car. Michele and I, we just laughed.”

What else can you do? I like to think they were singing. That’s easy enough for me to say… I wasn’t in the car.

After dropping off Michele and a few of the pups with her at her home, Charlie among them, Amy finally headed home to her own house, “completely unprepared” to have a bunch of puppies stay with her.

Still, a little reminder: this was three days after they first found Mini and then two days before the first Polar Vortex. We just had the second Polar Vortex hit yesterday here; with snow this time. I am loathe to think of how the dogs would have fared during this second hit were they not spared from the first one.

So our conversation went on and we talked about the dogs and how they are all doing, and how they were adjusting to their new lives without one another and without the trailer and their new open spaces and families.

It seems that everyone is doing well.  I’ve written about Charlie here on the blog already, comparing his feisty, scrappy ways to the regal and more poised affectation of my gorgeous thoroughbred Murphy, for whom I wanted Charlie to be a friend. It was hard for me, bringing in this new dog, and unknown breed and unknown story. To trust him with my golden boy, was going to be asking a lot, and trusting Murphy to be kind to him and to not be mean. I felt in no small way that I was betraying Murph. That I was bringing home another baby to my first-grade son, because in effect, that was what I was doing. I told Amy about how Murphy has returned to us, how he’s come out from his hiding. I didn’t know it would’ve worked and I’m so happy it did.

I told Amy that I see myself as the person who gets to have Charlie, rather than as the dog that belongs to me. I’ve considered these animals, even before I met Charlie, as everyone’s dogs, because they were born without anyone, and it’s humanity’s job, as a whole to look out for its fellow man as much as it is to look after its fellow mammals and earth. Granted, Charlie is “ours” and my sons are in love with him, but the relationship between him and Murphy is what this is really about. They get along beautifully pretty well.  Murphy can appeal for respite any time he likes by going up the 14 stairs that lead to the upper level; this is something Charlie has never considered.

Charlie cries in his crate still, when we put him in it each night at bedtime, and Murphy walks on by, with a satisfied air, knowing he has paid his dues. Charlie sounds like Robert DeNiro in the closing scenes of “Cape Fear” when DeNiro goes down with the sinking riverboat, attached by handcuffs as it was slowly swallowed by the churning water amidst a torrential downpour in some backwater North Carolina backwater. It’s a scene I’ll never ever forget, because DeNiro knew he was going to die and he was crying out scripture in English and in tongues, mixed with some odd southern twangy Cajun, “blahdebla God will not forsake me… bluudobloodo blodo judgement is mine… Thus sayeth The Lord… glaalabalaggagh bloodooblotablaaah… Counselor!”

He quiets down now, much sooner than his first nights here, in a few minutes. He is safe, in his little crate with his wooba toy, his wrestling towel, a little nylabone and a bacon sock (a Molly original — it’s an old sock tied in a knot with some bacon oil on it for good measure). He loves it. He loves it all. Sometimes he will take a toy of Murphy’s and then Murphy will return the favor.

In other areas of the house, he has a little day care area:

charlie zone.

charlie zone.

I’ve tied a plush squeaky toy bone to a long string which is attached to a door knob leading from the kitchen to the dining room. When he pulls on that toy, he keeps himself detained in the kitchen, which is pretty ingenious if I do say so myself.

Murphy is showing interest in his own toys again. When I write, they are behind me in the doorway between the playroom and this office. Murphy used to lie at my feet, but now he’s got Charlie to play with. Sometimes all I hear are snorts and teeth clashing followed by the occasional toy squeak and tiny pounce of 15# paws on a carpet.

Charlie has lived with us a week now, longer than any other human family on earth. He has put on almost one and one-half pounds since his arrival. He goes on a daily six-fireplug tour, which lasts about 15-20 minutes, depending on how often he decides he’s done with the walk. Then after that, he and Murphy play the leash-a-lympics. He greets his humans at the door with a happy wagging tail and a measure of enthusiasm that should be harnessed to power small homes. He smiles up at you, giving you the sense that he is really super glad to be alive.

We feel blessed to be a part of this little brood’s legacy. Charlie is one of a kind. You can’t go to a breeder and ask for a Charlie from Mini. That’s what’s great about mutts; they break the mold with each incarnation.

Thank you Amy and Michele.

Today, I am feeling sympathy for the wife of Noah (Ark). I’ve got four animals and 11 fish in my house. The animals can’t go outside for long because it’s 7˚ out with wind chills of -10˚.

there's a dog in my son's hands. he's so dark, you can't see him.

there’s a dog in my son’s hands. he’s so dark, you can’t see him, but you can make out his paws and the tip of his nose.

I’ll be writing more about Charlie and Murphy and the cats who pretend the dogs aren’t here. Please do come back tomorrow to see some amazing photos from the rescue site. I don’t want to plug them in here because words fail and because I saw them after I finished this post. Suffice it to say, I believe they warrant some form of award to Amy and Michele for their over-the-top efforts to rescue these dogs. (It’s also a pain in the butt to insert photos into posts.)

Thank you.

Charlie’s Story — 3: “Puppy by Puppy . . .” #dogs #rescue #teardown #danger #heroes


Hi there, thanks for sticking with us on this Charlie journey.

I’ll let you in on some details: I still have yet to meet Annie and Mandi. I interviewed Annie over the last weekend on my phone, but I wasn’t able to record the conversation on the phone, so I had to put her on speaker and then record that using my iPad. The conversation lasted about an hour, but the interview was about 45 minutes. So to get this done, I’ve been listening to that iPad recording on headphones while my boys play Led Zeppelin in the background as they play with the dogs. I also have to stop and pause to type and rewind and re-listen because some of it is unintelligible due to an iPhone, background noise and the speaker. Each of these installments is about 7-10 minutes of the conversation.

I tell ya, the life of a reporter is not easy. I’m also breaking up the dialogue a little bit with my own perceptions and also paraphrasing as content rather than quotes to give this story a little rhythm. That’s why it’s taking so long. If it were my story, I’d be able to tell it differently, but I don’t think it’d be nearly as exciting. My version would be like this: “mama dog had babies. dogs were rescued, lots of adversity, cold. the end.”

I’ve heard from a couple of you readers and I just want to agree: Annie and Mandi are special people. They are brave, kind, selfless and naturally altruistic. They are few and far between, they are heroes and they have my gratitude. As I sit here in my warm home watching Charlie play with Murphy, I want them to know how special they are. I also know that Mandi was sad to let Charlie go to me and my family. She had fallen fast and hard for him, which is totally understandable. I want her to know that Charlie is loved, so completely loved here and that Murphy has come out of his shell, so while I only brought in one new dog, I got two dogs out of it. Murphy is very happy.


If you’re new to this story, please read #1 and then #2 before starting here. It’s a great example of human spirit, animal justice and the unspoken yet unbreakable bonds between people and our four-legged friends.

. . .

We last left Mandi and Annie at the trailer around 8:30 in the evening with the intention of getting the remainder of the puppies and placing them all and Mini, their mama, in the car to head back for the awaiting seven-hour journey home. Annie had discovered after putting two of the pups in her car, that it was actually 28˚ and falling outside.

Whatever the actual temperature was outside, “I felt it was close to 80˚; I was so fueled with adrenaline that it could have been 10˚ out and I would’ve kept going without care. I had no concept of the cold, for hours. I later realized that my socks were soaked through and that was soaking wet from all the puddles. No matter. So we’ve got the puppies in the car and we head back to the gas station to get more food and we say, ‘Yay! We found some puppies! Yay!’ and we got something to eat and headed back to the trailer to try some more to get the rest out, because the Mexican lady said there were six puppies,” said Annie.

At this point, it’s probably close to 10:00pm. It’s a Friday night and these two mothers have been at this for about two hours, but are another seven from home. They get some food into their own bellies to keep them going. Mini is feeling great relief, no doubt from her reunion because her babies have nursed. Meanwhile Freckles has never ceased barking while Tip and my Charlie are curled up in the safety of the hatchback wondering what’s taking everyone else so long to get out of there.

“So after a few trips back and forth between the gas station, the trailer and the puppies, Mini sort of takes on this very relaxed attitude, as if to say, ‘Ok! This is where I live. So uh… you guys, I’ll be here sleeping. I’m going to SLEEP now,’ and it’s about 11 o’clock now. So because Freckles was still howling and growling and barking, after several hours, we knew that there was at least one puppy still alive in there. It’s really hard to see in that hole. Not only are we without any natural light, there is no light inside the hole, but this house is unstable and its cracking beneath Mandi’s steps so we knew that was not going to be the way to get them out,” she said.

Annie had a slightly easier time walking on the decrepit teardown. The problem or more appropriately, the threat was not going to come from walking on top of the wet and decomposing plywood, steel, nails styrofoam insulation and sub-flooring; it was getting trapped beneath it, in the dark and subfreezing temps, so the situation was a little dire to say the least. The women were too large to fit though the “fox holes” into the “den,” under the house and too heavy to stand upon it to find a way in, plus Freckles didn’t trust them in the least, despite what his mother, Charlie and Tip thought of Annie and Mandi.

“So instead of trying to get into the house, we’re spending most of our time trying to coax the puppies out. But I think they’re stuck. So I take my fingers, and again, I’m totally unaware of being cold, but I want to say I was lifting or trying to lift about six inches house, y’know of floor, linoleum, plywood, nails, carpet padding, aluminum, rugs … it was all wet and rotting. It was a mess. Mud, dirt and cement everywhere, but it was still hard, so I could use my fingernails to make a hole, to dig through it all several times for the puppies to climb through because they’re stuck, right? So Mini’s no help at all. She’s feeling better, her babies are safe and she’s fallen asleep,” Annie said, laughing in recollection, but I can hear the exhaustion in her voice too. She sighs lightly.

Annie said at this point it was at least midnight; maybe even 1:00 in the morning. She was exhausted but full of hope too. This is where those dogs lived, they weren’t likely to leave it and they had survived in it since birth. To them, it was adequate. To them, it was shelter and had yet to let them down. Humanity, the form of the lovely neighbor, the older Mexican woman, had shown them — shown us all actually, including you who are reading this story — that spirit goes on and that good things happen, we just need, as Dumas wrote, to “wait and hope.”

Annie is resourceful. She’s been down this rescue road before. She had a plan.

“So I despite my fatigue, I said to Mandi, ‘why don’t we tie all these leashes together, go get more wet food, throw wet food as far as we can into the den and that will lure Mini in, she will start to eat and then they will start nursing and then you, Mandi, slowly pull out the leashes and I will hide and snatch a puppy….”

AND IT WORKED! For two more puppies, “Drama” and “Sleepy,” they got them out of the hole and put them with Charlie and Tip to rest inside the car.

Why is Drama named Drama you ask?

“When we got Drama, she screamed, so loud and so long I thought that many ribs must’ve been broken. She was like a feral cat. She would put her head down as far as she could whenever you tried to pat her and you know, they’d never been touched by people, and that is why we named her Drama, she just screamed all the time.”

So they’ve got four of a reported six pups out of the hole. It’s late, sports fans. It’s close to 1:30 or 2:00 am. Remember, Annie and Mandi left their homes 12-15 hours earlier, and traveled close to 420 miles from home to bring these puppies out of danger. They are soaked through to their skin. They’ve run through fields, scraped at tear downs, eaten who knows what to fuel them through this effort. All by themselves. I like to think that St. Francis was watching over them, helping them out, egging them on. For me, it’s the sweet smell of puppy breath that would keep me going on each one that came out of that hole.

“Freckles is still screaming and howling and growling and snarling. I don’t know what to do. I have determined that he’s either blind and confused, mentally ill, has rabies or is just generally wrong in the head…”

Annie explained that throughout this rescue effort, she made numerous phone calls to the local authorities: the fire department, a local police department, the animal control people and no one cared or even bothered to help them, even out of a public interest in someone’s personal safety. She also explained that she told a police officer at the gas station that she and her friend were going to an abandoned teardown to rescue some dogs and he sort of said, “Mmm, ok!” and didn’t ask any further about it. While I understand her confusion, based on a liability consideration because she was on someone else’s private property, I can also understand that unless the person who owned the property had a problem with it, she was likely not going to elicit any attention, inquiries or assistance from anyone. After all, as frustrating as it is, I would’ve loved to have helped them, we must admit that we are all grown adults here, and this was her and Mandi’s adult and conscious decision to embark on and / or continue the effort.

“So we went back. We were totally tired and we had no more ideas. Freckles was still barking and growling. And we were just spent. Mini is happy and asleep for the night in our car, the other puppies are content. For whatever reason, Mini simply didn’t care about this dog. She was not interested; even his mom didn’t want to rescue him. So we just sit there for a long time. And the cold is starting to have an effect on us. I am starting to realize that I’m wet and tired and cold and emotionally and mentally spent. But I’m not leaving, so I make trips between the car and the dog, this barking snarling dog that I still didn’t know was a puppy. He just sounded so fierce, but small, but angry, so … you know, I didn’t know what was really going on.”

Annie decided to go back to the house and take another stab at it. She went back to the hole she created with her hands a few moments before and even though it was dark, she could see these tiny little white paws and two dots for eyes, reflecting whatever light there was, back at her. She knew it was a puppy at that moment and crazy or not, she was not going to leave without it. But she was out of ideas. This little dude was stubborn, terrified and very defensive.

She had a friend back at home, the vet tech who first saw Mini when they brought her back home without knowing she had puppies (back in the first story), who was an animal catcher extraordinaire. If anyone knew how to catch a reluctant dog, her friend the vet tech did.

# # #

I am sorry! I have to stop here. I’m exhausted!

Well, no, I don’t have to. But again, it’s another great spot to stop. Tomorrow… I think that will do it.

Thank you.

Charlie’s Story — 2: “Return to the Palmetto State” #puppy #rescue #teardown #perseverance


Sorry about yesterday. I had to go do some other things. Plus it seemed as good a time as any to take a break. My friend PMH though said I was leaving her on a cliffhanger. Yikes!

Ok, so I left off where Annie and Mandi prepare to go to South Carolina to check out the site where “Mini” (the now milk–engorged postpartum dog mom) was first seen and rescued from, with the best of intentions of NOT abandoning a brood of puppies. I mean, c’mon… who would do that?!

Annie and Mandi left on Friday, January 3 around 11am from their hometown, which was about 7 hours away from where Mini was found. They had to leave so late in the day because these two women also have humans to feed and care for. They also weren’t sure about whether there were puppies, so once that got that all figured out, Annie felt it was ok to go. She got her blessing from her husband, who supplied her with a couple flashlights and love and Mindi packed some leashes and her cat carrier, which basically ended up just taking up vital space in the car…

This was up to her; this was her program.

“We arrived about 7pm.”

Hold up: it’s winter. I live on the east coast. At 5:30pm now the sun is setting. So uh, check: it was dark out when they got there. Props to Annie’s husband for packing the flashlights, they were essential.

Ok, carry on…

“So yes, we got there in the dark. I pulled up to the gas station, I parked the car. I opened my door. Mini was on a leash and I jumped out. I had my cell phone, luckily. By the time Mandi had gotten out of her seat, Mini took off running, full speed, milk and all, and the leash was trailing behind her,” Annie said.

Annie explained with a fair amount of humor that she is not a runner. So every time Mini felt Annie couldn’t keep up (in the dark, through unknown territory, with only two feet thank you), the dog would slow down, sit and be submissive, sort of showing her belly and saying, “we don’t have to go.”

“But I was not stopping! I wanted her to keep going, so I egged her on, waving my arms and gesturing ‘Let’s go!’ hoping Mini would start up again. It’s at a point where I’m trying to convince her to run! The first thing she does is run out of the parking lot and dashes into a really busy street — at night! Cars were everywhere. To me, this was crazy — I mean, I had to keep her going because if she didn’t, she would stop and we wouldn’t find the babies.”

After Annie and Mini cleared the busy street with the cars in the dark, they ran across a darkened field. “It was totally random, like its existence didn’t make any sense.” Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but certainly in the dark, so there was no real possibility of context, the field was a mess. It had bumps and cracks and puddles and overgrown weeds, and random plants in it. It’s cold out too. “So we were running through this field and ran into another field? I’m not even sure at this point where we were. My car was still at the gas station, I guess with Mandi, but Mandi is nowhere near me; she can’t find me anymore.”

So these two moms. Suburban, educated, modern, progressive women from the outskirts of the Nation’s Capital, are in the boondocks of South Carolina in the dark, early days of winter; three days before the landfall of some of the coldest, subfreezing temperatures this area has ever seen in recorded history, with a lactating dog who was two days absent from her babies leading the way to her litter.

“The next thing I know, we’re at a trailer. All of its lights are on, and then we pass the trailer and I think go through another field. And then, there was this house. Half of it had fallen down. And Mini, she just ran into this hole; >poof!< she was gone… I think, ‘Where has she gone? What’s going on?’ and then I hear them. Their howling and greeting and screaming for their mother. So to get a better view [into a darkened abandoned tear down in the middle of nowhere, Annie lies down on her chest] and I’m on my cell phone to Mandi at this point and I’m screaming into it, ‘THERE ARE PUPPIES! THERE ARE PUPPIES!’ and I see two little black shapes come up to Mini in the hole,” Annie says, now pausing to catch her breath because the emotion is coming back to her, the moment is as real as if it was happening right now.

“It was …. I can’t even tell you how I felt when I saw and heard them all. It was like … like … having a child. The most wonderful, amazing moment of my life.”

I know I’dve passed out just to know that they were all still there and all still alive. Relief would be an understatement. 

To any human mothers, all too aware of what it must be like to know that you’ve been separated from your babies and your milk is coming in and won’t stop because you’re still waiting for your child to nurse, and the child can’t because the child is separated … to feed that baby… Annie and Mandi rejoiced. They screamed to the sky with gratitude, amazement and exhilaration.

But enough celebrating.

The next plan would be, how to get these guys out of the hole?

Looking back on that crazy run through the fields and the random-seeming parks, “I have to say… when I was running through that second field on the approach to the tear-down where they all were, there was a really scary-sounding dog barking at me and Mini.” She was pretty terrified.

If it were me, I’d have to put a lot of faith in it all just working out. Annie was committed. “So this dog sounded really scary but I just kept going,” she said.

The house where they were was really unsafe.

this is where they were found.

this is where they were found.

We all have experiences of walking up the basement steps after spooking out ourselves with a scary movie or a weird thought of someone being behind us. We all know how unknown territory and the dark can turn our imaginations up to 11 in no time. We all know how running through a deserted field amidst tear downs and abandoned trailer homes after running through traffic after a dog we’ve just met can get ahold of your thoughts and make things substantially different than the reality, right?

Turns out this was who was barking at Annie so fiercely and angrily that night:

the one on the right.

the one on the right. his name is “freckles” as in “freckles the fearsome.”

So after that point, Charlie (my pup) and Tip, a female, come out of the hole totally happy with their tails wagging; basically saying, “HI. I LOVE YOU. I TRUST YOU COMPLETELY.” Because Charlie is so much bigger than his sibs (which makes me think he was something of a pig in the litter…) Annie left him where he was because he could follow Mini wherever she went to nurse and get milk. “I decided to hold Tip because she was so small and she couldn’t keep up, and she’d cry, so I just held her.”

At this point it was still just Annie. She didn’t want to leave the dogs and it took about a half-hour to get Mandi to find her through directions as best as Annie could explain them to her. Annie could see landmarks of strip malls and fast-food places, but she couldn’t exactly say where she was because… she didn’t know where she was. So yes, the gal who had all the leashes and the cat carrier was nowhere near where the dogs were. It’s ok… it just makes the story more interesting.

“So I started to get a little freaked out, frankly. I realized that I was on somebody’s property. This was someone’s house, so I didn’t want to get in trouble and I didn’t know where I was and I was scared, so I decided to go up to the trailer with all the lights on, and knock on the door to see if I could find out how to get Mandi to me. I was still on the phone with her, so I felt that was sort of safe, but … I don’t know. We were imagining shot guns and you know, it’s South Carolina… ”

I’m not sure what that means, but moving on. I was thinking as I was listening to her not so much that it was South Carolina, but that it was an empty and deserted field with an abandoned teardown and a few trailer homes nearby. I would be lying if I didn’t think banjos and meth labs.

By this point when Annie is telling me this story, I’m slack-jawed. I like to think of myself as brave. As someone who is willing to take the extra step, do the kinder thing regardless of whether it pains me; as long as it will work out, what’s a little discomfort, right? But I can’t say I’d do this. I can’t say I’dve picked up Mini in the first place. I can’t say I wouldn’t have though. I’ve been in the market for a friend for Murphy for about a year; more intensely in the last six months. I know that soon he’ll be getting older and so the odds of a puppy or younger dog developing a positive relationship with Murphy in a space beyond two years is pretty nil. But I do know this: if I picked up a dog who started lactating and I had her examined and it looked like she’d had a litter recently, you can bet your ass I’d be back down to where I found her to help reunite and rescue them all. To do anything else, with the upcoming freeze-mageddon awaiting, yeah. I’d go back down there. 

“So I walk up to this house and it turned out to be this super nice lady. She’s Mexican, I’m Cuban, and so we both speak Spanish. Instantly, we feel at ease with each other. This woman, who lives in a trailer all by herself and who has nothing — I mean: nothing, has been putting out her leftover rice and tortillas for Mini. She was glad to see me, she knew I was coming for the puppies and she was all for it and because of her, I’m able to navigate Mandi to me. The woman goes on to tell me this story of another trailer which was in even worse condition than the teardown where Mini returned to which was where Mini and another dog were kept and basically left to fend for themselves because their previous owners didn’t take them with them. The dogs were abandoned about two months ago, about the time when Mini delivered the pups,” Annie continued.

So Mandi found Annie and with the neighbor woman’s nod, they took the two first pups and put them in the trunk of the car (don’t worry, it was a hatchback) while they went back looking for the other puppies and Mini.

“When I got to the car, I realized that it was 28˚ outside. In South Carolina,” Annie said.

# # #

This seems like another good spot for a break. Come back tomorrow for I think what will be the final installment on this little Puppy Saga.

Thank you.