Monday, May 7, 2018

Dog Rescue with Guilie Castillo!


Hello, friends! I'm on a bit of a blog break but am popping in to share a dog rescue story from Guilie Castillo as part of the blog tour for her book It's About the Dog: The A-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers. I am a sucker for a dog rescue story and this one about a sweetheart named Jake and the wonderful group that worked to save him went straight to my heart. 💓💓

Welcome, Guilie, and thanks for all you do for dogs!
Sometimes rescue just… flows. Sometimes the stars seem to align for the rescuer—and for the dog. Sometimes the dog treats you like a long-lost best friend (and, who knows, maybe in another life you did know each other) and isn’t just willing but eager to jump into your car. Sometimes all it takes is couple of treats and a leash. […] 
More often than not, though, rescue gets rough. And, because the universe loves irony, it’s usually the dogs in most urgent need of help who refuse to cooperate. Because they’re in panic, because they’ve been abused and don’t trust humans, because they’re hurt and in pain. Whatever the reason, it comes down to this: 
How do you catch a dog that doesn’t want to be caught?



Just last week, a group of rescuers here in Curaçao had one such case. Back at the beginning of April, someone had spotted a dog with a severely in-grown collar at Parasasa Beach, but no one had been able to find him. Then, finally, someone spotted him again, same place, just before sundown. He ran off, though; shy and skittish, probably terrified of humans (probably with good reason). 


Parasasa Beach, Curaçao. Image credit: CuracaoTodo.com

This dog was not going to come in without a fight.

But the rescuers from Feed Friends Foundation weren’t about to give up. They went back the next day, armed with kennels and leashes and food—good stuff, tasty (and smelly) bits of kidney or liver canned food, which they placed around the beach and laced with Tranquigel (a mild gel sedative; best invention since the dog leash, I tell you). Then they sat, at a distance, and waited.

At sundown, the dog showed up. Among the five rescuers (including a seven-year-old girl, daughter of one of the rescuers—yes, it runs in the blood) quiet cheers went up when the dog, whom they'd started calling Jake, wolfed down the food. Now it was just a matter of time; Tranquigel can take up to an hour to kick in. 

Jake had come from the direction of the Marriott property next door, currently being 'renovated' (officially, but us locals have our doubts) and thus closed up. If he made it back there, the rescuers wouldn't be able to follow. It wouldn't matter whether they set out liver or raw tenderloin: no one was going to be seeing Jake until the next morning, when the sedative had worn off and they'd have to start all over again.


Everyone wanted to avoid that. Even at a distance, the wound around his neck looked bad enough to make this an urgent rescue. Jake was going to end this day at the vet, in safety; everyone agreed on that.

Jake, however, had different ideas. An hour had passed, and he showed no signs of calming down. Parasasa Beach is not a quiet spot; the neighborhood is home to several hotels, offices, and restaurants, which mean an abundance of cars and buses and people. And every time any of them came to within five meters, Jake bolted. 

The rescuers took up positions between the beach and the Marriott property line, to prevent Jake from escaping in that direction. They tried to close in on him, towels in hand, using every trick in the book—but each time Jake managed to slip away. Finally, with daylight fading fast, they began to consider one last option, an option no one liked: the dog catcher's pole. 


The dog catcher's pole: a rescuer's best frenemy. We love to hate it. We hate that it saves our butts so often.


Rescuers tend to hate the pole: it's unwieldy, it looks threatening even to a calm dog, let alone a panicky stray. In Jake's case, there was an additional factor: the open wound around his neck where a too-tight collar had bitten into his skin. The pole's looped end had to go around his neck, and none of the rescuers liked the idea of causing this poor dog any more pain. 

Many people have the idea that rescuing is a 'fun' thing, all unicorns and rainbows and cuddly puppies. The truth? It's hard-core, and it requires hard-core people. People who rescue have to care about the dog—otherwise why are you out there chasing a dog in the middle of the night?—but they have to be able to make tough decisions. Keep priorities straight. Stay focused on the goal. Do what it takes.

And, right now, it looked like what it took to get Jake to safety wasn't going to be pretty.


Meet Jake. Photo quality shows how far away the rescuers had to stay in order to keep him from bolting. No close-up of the wound here, but — if you have a strong stomach — you can see it at the Feed Friends page on Facebook.
(Photo courtesy of Dyveke Fraaij-Brugman)

They looked at each other, jaws set but eyes glistening. Twilight had come and gone, and in the dark the chances of catching Jake were dwindling with every minute that passed. It was now or never.

They did catch him. As soon as the pole's loop tightened around his neck, he stopped struggling—which, ask any rescuer, is the most heartbreaking moment of any rescue. He was wrapped in a towel to prevent him from biting the odd arm or leg, the loop was loosened and taken away, and he was tucked into a kennel—safe, finally. For the first time in... who knows how long.

Once in the car, with more light, Jake's rescuers were able to get their first good look at him. The in-grown collar was worse up close, and a few nods of we did the right thing were exchanged. Also, they found out why the Tranquigel hadn't worked: other than the wound on his neck, Jake was in pretty good shape. Dirty, long nails, a couple of bald spots, but not emaciated, not even skinny. He had found a good source of food, either scraps left by people on the beach, or a restaurant trash can; whatever it was, it means he has excellent chances of healing quickly and properly. He's also young, probably not much older than a year. His is a success story, and this part, his rescue, is only the beginning.

Jake has been taken in by the Curaçao Animal Rights Foundation (CARF), an organization known for its work with the cases that would stump (and bankrupt) most other rescue groups. They'll provide the best medical care Jake can get, and, when the time comes, they'll make sure he goes to a home where he'll be loved and cherished and spoiled to bits.

Jake is safe. His future is bright and shiny. And none of it would've been possible without the five rescuers who refused to give up that day on the beach. This is my standing ovation to them.

(Photo courtesy of Dyveke Fraaij-Brugman)

Would you like to contribute to Jake's recovery, and help get others like him to safety? You can donate to CARF here and to Feed Friends here, and a Like on Facebook (CARF, Feed Friends) goes a long way. Rescue, however, is very much like sustainability practices: start local. The best way to help is to get involved with organizations in your area and find out what they need; not everyone can do the chase-down-a-dog routine, and there are plenty of other ways to make a difference. You can help organize fundraising, for instance. You can make flyers. You can donate stuff, or collect it from your neighbors and acquaintances: old towels and bed sheets, bowls, blankets, collars, tags... Seriously, the list is endless.

Julie, thanks so much for having me here today, and for giving little Jake's story a chance to reach, and maybe touch, more people. I'm honored to get the opportunity to share his story, and I'm delighted that it found a home here with you and your readers. Looking forward to chatting with everyone in the comments!






Guilie Castillo, Mexican expat, writer, and dog rescuer, is the author of It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers (Everytime Press, April 2018), a hands-on, less-tears-more-action, 100% practical introduction to dog rescue. 

This post is a part of The Dog Book Blog Tour; during April and May, author and book will be making the rounds of dog-loving sites on the blogosphere to talk dogs and rescue—and to give away THREE signed copies (More about both tour and giveaway here.) Come join us!

31 comments:

  1. I bet that was getting tense as the light faded. Fortunately, it had a happy ending for Jake. Bless people like you who love animals.

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    1. I agree, Alex—yay for Jake's happy ending! In a few months, once that wound is healed, it'll be time to find him a home... That'll be another challenge. But for now we're all happy to celebrate this one victory :)

      Thanks for coming by!

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  2. I'm so happy Jake's story had a happy ending! One of our dogs is a rescue, and he is wonderful. We got him as a puppy, and he's now 13. Y'all do great work.

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    1. How wonderful you were able to give this puppy such a great life, Carol! We need more people like you in the world :)

      Thanks for reading!

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  3. Oh how good to know Jake is safe and that the Curacao Animal Rights Foundation is doing such wonderful work ... thanks Julie for highlighting Guilie's book for us - cheers Hilary

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    1. So good to find you here, Hilary! Thanks for reading, and for the appreciation of these organizations' work... They really are up against impossible odds, so every little victory counts.

      Hope you're having a wonderful start to the week!

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  4. Thanks so much for having me over, Julie! And for letting Jake and his story touch you—and your readers—even across the distance. Marvelous thing, the internet, that allows us to reach out and find kindred souls. You are one such for me, Julie, and I'm very, very grateful for your friendship :)
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

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  5. This is a wonderful post and I love to hear stories like this. Too bad they can't talk and let us know where they csame from and what they were doing. He does look healthy overall and I hope he didn't have parvo or anything else like heartworm. All our animals are rescues and they are the best

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    1. Oh, Birgit, wouldn't it be great if they could tell us? On the other hand, maybe it's best we don't know... So much suffering. Aside from that neck wound—which really is horrible, and will take months to heal—he seems in pretty good shape. No signs of parvo or distemper, fortunately.

      Thanks so much for the visit, and for being such a wonderful 'mom' to your rescues. As I said to Carol above, the world really needs more people like you!

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  6. Such a great life endeavor. Thanks for getting the word out about our canine companions. Wish you had very long arms and could reach Burma AKA Myanmar. They have a serious need for animal welfare awareness and care.

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    1. Thank *you*, Lee, for caring! You're right, Myanmar is in a terrible, terrible situation... I also wish we could do more—there, and everywhere, really.

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  7. A truly inspiring story! I'm so glad Jake was rescued and I wish him a speedy recovery. Wonderful work you do!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie! I'm so happy for Jake, too! He's in the best hands, so I'm sure we'll be hearing good news from his side soon :)

      Thank you so much for the visit!

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  8. My grandmother never turned away a stray. Once, when I was little, a dog showed up and she started feeding him. She never noticed that his collar was grown into his neck. He didn't complain unless you touched his neck. She couldn't tell what was up, so she had my brother check it out and we were all shocked to realize the collar was embedded in the dog's neck. It was fixed and he lived a long, happy life. But wow. I hadn't realized that was even a thing!

    Hugs to Jake and to people who rescue. I'm always tempted to get more rescues, but my home is at capacity with three dogs and a cat, but looking at Jake, I'm tempted!!

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    1. How lucky that this dog your grandma found managed to live with the collar on! I've seen some horrific wounds collar wounds; mostly it's because someone put the collar on when the dog was a puppy, then the puppy got lost (or abandoned; that happens a lot here), outgrew the collar, and couldn't do anything about it.

      So glad you're giving your four furry ones a good life! Yes, it's always tempting to take in more; that's how I ended up with eight dogs, haha. There really *is* such a thing as capacity, and it's in the interest of the ones you already have to keep it that way. Kudos!

      Thanks so much for coming by!

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  9. Grats to Guilie! It's an inspiring story!

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  10. Hi Julie, Hi Guilie! What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

    All the best with your new book, Guilie! I hope it inspires tons of people to rescue our furry friends! They need us...

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    1. Hi Michael! Let's hope so, yes! Even if *one* person is able to help *one* dog with anything they learned in the book—well, I will die happy :)

      So happy to see you here! Thanks for the visit, and for reading—and for caring :)

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  11. Dogs are so lovable...even when they're completely uncooperative:)

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    1. You're absolutely right, Mark—we love them anyway :D Thanks so much for reading!

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  12. I'm so grateful to Guilie and her crew and all of the people out there who make it possible for people like me to walk into an SPCA or other rescue group and come home with a precious fur baby. Thank you!! You guys rock!

    Thank you, Julie for hosting her.

    Elsie

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    1. Aw, Elsie—and us rescuers are eternally grateful to people like you who give these rescues a second chance at a good life. Every time you adopt a rescue, you save two lives: the one you're adopting, and the one we can now bring in off the street to take that empty space in the shelter. Without adopters we could never do what we do—thank you!

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  13. How do you catch the reluctant ones? Sounds like a mission... but at least Jake had a happy ending!
    You do some wonderful work, Guilie!
    Hi Julie! *waving*

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    1. "Mission" is exactly right, Michelle... Sometimes it takes days, even weeks. Rescuers are the definition of perseverance :) Thanks so much for coming by!

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  14. Inge / The Belgian Reviewer: God that's so heart-breaking. Those very very patient rescuers were so wonderful!

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    1. I agree, Inge! I'm so glad they kept at it, and that they managed to get Jake in at the end. So glad you came by!

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  15. Aw. So glad Jake is safe now and has a happier future ahead of him. CARF sounds like such a wonderful organization for rescue animals!

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    1. Jake was one of the lucky ones, indeed... Thanks so much for coming by, Heather!

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  16. Blessings for rescuing the handsome Jake! And kudos to CARF for their advocacy. 😍

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    1. I have the feeling Jake has a wonderful future ahead of him... Thanks so much for reading his story!

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Thank you for your comments!