New Mexico's Pet Resource SPRING 2007

(PETroglyphs doesn’t usually print stories written by animals, but we believed Ladyfaire’s story had a lot to tell all of us. Ladyfaire lives in Deming, NM with Dean and Joyce Peterson. They are life members of Deming Animal Guardians and rescued Ladyfaire from her desert memories.)

I am a dog. My humans say I look like a purebred German shepherd. The tips of my shoulder hair is silvered as though I had it done at a beauty shop, while my ruff, tummy and legs are a soft shade of tan and the rest of me is dense black.

The first 18 months of my life were frightening. I experienced everything from playfulness and contentment to fear, starvation, serious physical injury and motherhood.

My memories of that time are sketchy because it is too painful to think about it. I have some faint memories of a happy puppyhood and a family who was kind to me. While I was still a puppy, my life changed into one of such horror and fear that I remember almost nothing of except the terror it caused me. My humans wonder about that time in my life. They think I was used as an adversary at a fighting dog training kennel because I am afraid of and aggressive toward other dogs, particularly in close spaces.

I don’t know how I got away from there. I didn’t have a collar on when I was found, although the place on my neck where one had been was identifiable.

I remember being alone and scared in the desert. I met a handsome Chow-Retriever dog who stayed with me for a short time before he had to go back home. Mostly, I was alone with no one to care for me and no pack to protect me. Being part of a pack is essential for a dog. It protects us from danger and provides a way to find food and become socialized. Without a pack, I was always frightened, hungry and lonely.

Once I detected some people in the desert. I was excited because I thought they might help me. Suddenly there was a loud noise and something struck me on the right side of my jaw. I turned to flee. There was another loud noise and something hit my left foreleg so hard that I had to flee a long way on three legs. After that I couldn’t catch small animals for food and I became very weak. Finally, I had so little strength or hope that I just lay quietly in the desert.

Days later another group of humans came quite near to where I lay. One of them spoke kindly to me before going off to hunt quail. After a long time, the kind human came back by himself in his car and picked me up. He took me to a place with strong smells called an animal clinic. They put me in a cage with some water and food and let me sleep. It was wonderful to have someone near me who was kind and who could help me.

The next day more humans came. They said they were from the Sangre de Cristo Animal Protection. They talked to another human called Doctor. Doctor told them a bullet had broken my leg about a week before and my leg was badly hurt. My weight was down to a mere 25 pounds and my general condition was poor. After a lot of discussion, they decided my will to live was so great that they would take a chance on me.

Doctor gave me something to make me sleep and then he put a long steel rod in my leg to hold it together. I woke up in a cage with more food and water. I enjoyed having food and people who spoke to me.

They realized I was having difficulty eating. When Doctor looked at my mouth, he found that a bullet had shattered one of my molars and broken my jaw. This time he put a steel plate on the outside of my jaw with metal screws to hold my jaw together. It was wonderful to be able to eat without pain.

Once my jaw was fixed, two new humans came to see me. They spoke kindly to me and patted me. I tried to be as nice as I knew how to be hoping they might want to be my new family. Two days later they came back with a collar and took me to a car. After a short ride we got out. I went inside a building much larger than my cage. There was more food and water and a soft, furry pad on the floor where I could lay down. Later they took me outside to a large, walled area where nothing could hurt me and I could attend to my needs. That night I was invited to sleep in the room where the humans slept. All I had to do was raise my head to hear, smell and see them. I wondered whether I would be able to stay here.

For many days I was so tired that I just slept, ate and went outside. The humans patted me, rubbed my tummy and always spoke kindly to me. The only problem was that they left me alone for a while each day. I worried because I didn’t know if they would come back. But they always did so I stopped worrying.

I decided these people were going to be my new family. Since the yard and house were mine, I thought I should try to guard it, so I went into the yard and barked. It was the first time I’d barked in my new home, but I wanted everyone to know I was here. Other dogs barked back. I wanted to run and run because I felt so good and my leg didn’t hurt anymore.

One day I started to feel strange. I wanted to find an area that was closed in and dark. I decided on the pad near my human’s bed where I slept at night. One night I felt very uncomfortable and whined for my humans to help me, but they didn’t understand my problem. At about two in the morning we all found out.

I heard one human say,” Dean, you’d better look because I think I saw a puppy.”

The other human said, “No dog that sick could have been carrying puppies.” But when he came over to me he saw it wasn’t one puppy but two.

My humans took me back to the doctor. He took the steel plate off my jaw and the pin out of my leg. Soon I was feeling like a puppy again myself. I still needed to see one more doctor, though, because there were dark spots on my fangs. He did root canals in them. He also noticed that several of my teeth had been ground off. My humans were very angry because they believed that someone ground them off so I couldn’t hurt the fighting dogs when I tried to protect myself.

This ended the painful part of my life. My daughter, Missy Rascal, stayed with me and my son went to live with a nice family. Perhaps there are no great lessons to be learned from my life, but I think there are some things that are worth remembering.

Contentment sometimes comes at a very high price and should be highly valued. I also think it would be nice if people realized that a dog is a person, too, with feelings and emotions much like theirs. We may be a little shorter on intelligence and a little longer on love and loyalty than most humans, but we are not so different otherwise. Like children, we tend to mirror those who we look to as our parents. If our humans think we are mean or surly, they should look at themselves to see what example they are setting.

Life is good for me now. I have some arthritis but I still love to play and tease. Now I only remember being alone in the desert at rare intervals. When my humans are sitting together, I just like to lie down near them and watch their faces because I want to show them all the love I feel for them.

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