The One You Seldom See
Joyce Martin

gonzales heeler mom litterShe was one of seven born in a backyard on a cold January day to a mother not yet a year old herself. When she was about 5 weeks old she was given to a stranger who stopped when they saw the "free puppies" sign on the side of a busy highway just outside of town.

They took her home loving the sweet smell of her puppy breath and how round and furry she was. Everyone was enjoying her and saying that she was the cutest puppy they have ever seen.

She is now four months old.

She no longer has the sweet puppy breath and her baby fur is slowly being replaced by an adult coat. They quickly find puppies can take work. Each time she soils the rug, she is yelled at while someone sitting on a couch grabs the closest thing to them to throw at her. She is so frighten, she pees all over the blue tattered rug again. She lives outside in the yard. She keeps escaping because she is so lonely and bored and misses the attention she once received. Eventually they get tired of the neighbors complaining so she is tied to a dog house barely big enough for her growing body. It is 93 degrees today. She has to stretch to reach the green water and food lying on the ground. She is covered in fleas and scratches almost none stop and is slowly losing her fur because of it. She has never been vaccinated or seen the inside of a vets office.

She is now 6 months old.

BCmix gonzalesStill being a baby herself, she goes in to her first heat. Every neighboring male dog within 2 miles knows it and digs in to the yard to get to her. She's unsure of what life has in store but will soon find out in the coming weeks.

She is now 7 months old.

The man comes outside with the children crying behind him. He unties the rope from her neck and picks her up; she pees all over him, not know what wrong she had done this time. Angrily, she is thrown in the back of a pickup. The heat from the bed of the truck burns her paws and she keeps trying to jump out. He gets the rope that had been around her neck and ties her to the inside of the truck bed so she can't escape or avoid the pain on her paws. They drive for what seems like hours, the hot wind ruffling what little fur she has and then suddenly the truck stops. The next thing she knows she is being tossed out on a lone country road. He gets in the truck and quickly drives off flinging gravel and pelting her body with the small sharp rocks.

She starts running. Running like she's never ran before but he does not stop. She quickly runs out of breath since she has no stamina from being tied most of her life. She doesn't understand. What did she do wrong? They are the only family she's ever known and no matter how they treat her, she still loves them. If not for living with a rope around her neck, she would have laid down her life for them when the bad people came and stole the money they were saving for the kids Christmas presents. Her paws are on fire again this time from the hot asphalt.

She finally gives up and walks to the side of the road where there is a grassy area and slowly starts licking the blood from her wounded paws.

It's been a few days since she was abandoned. She wanders from field to field looking for something to eat and water to drink. She is not a wild animal that knows how to survive and she's not sure what to do.

Sometimes when the sun comes up, she'll stand by the side of the road hoping they'll come back. She still wonders what she did that made them not love her any more. The occasional person drives by, noticing her swollen belly. But they drive on. She's not their responsibility. Even though she's had some close calls, almost being struck by the passing cars, she can't help but wait.

She is now 8 months old.

Her ribs are beginning show and her belly is getting bigger. She knows she needs to keep moving in order to find food and water because by now she's figured out hers is not the only life she needs to try and save.

She settles for a drainage ditch that runs under the road and she begins to build a den for the pending arrival of her family. She lies down, feeling totally alone as she listens to the occasional car passing overhead. She's given up that her family will come back for her. She delivers seven sweet adorable puppies just as her mother before her had.

A few days later while driving down the road, someone spots her off in the distances. He sees her standing in the middle of a patch of tall grass and she turns to look when she hears the car door slam. She instantly begins to worry that he is going to harm her babies. She runs back towards her den where she finds a young man bent down talking sweetly to the pups. At first she back ups and shows her teeth standing her ground in order to protect her family. As he reaches a hand towards her, her face and body soften as she looks at the kind face and hears the gentle words that are being said to her. A brief memory comes flooding back reminding her of a time when someone had spoken to her this way.

Finally the young man is able to place a small piece of rope around her neck. She struggles at first, remembering the past, but as he lifts one of the puppies in to his arms, she is more than willing to follow him. He places the puppy in the back seat of his car and she immediately jumps in and begins licking and smelling to make sure her baby is all right. He shuts the door and goes back carrying a weathered box he found on the side of the road and brings the rest of the puppies to his car. She worries about the other puppies in the ditch. She begins to pace and bark franticly anticipating what lies ahead for her and her puppies.

A252285 SA MamaNot knowing what else to do with them, he heads to the local shelter even though he knows it is closed. He leaves a note telling them the date and name of the road where he found them.

She and her puppies are lying on the hard cement floor. Surprisingly she's grateful to be there, and though thin with every rib showing, she's getting plenty of food and fresh water. She gives her last bit of energy and nutrients to feed her family. With a little petting and attention from shetler volunteer, she begins to relax but is still keeping her guard up. She is hopeful she and her family are safe but she can't help worrying what the future holds or even if they have a future.

She's the one you seldom see. She and her puppies are kept away from the rest of the world. Neither she nor her puppies can be adopted because her puppies are only days old. She can't leave without them and they won't survive without her. Their only hope is for a rescue to accept them in to their care. If no one comes forward, she and her 8 day old puppies won't make it out of the shelter alive.