Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'd like you to meet Beulah.

Many of you already know Beulah in the flesh, but some of my readers may not. I have a story to tell about Beulah today, but first I'd like to introduce you.

Beulah was one of the few animal survivors of Hurricane Katrina. She was found in a house in the 9th ward on October 10. She was left there for another 2 days before being rescued.

She was found near the green plastic tub, barely able to move anymore. After all,this was 42 days after the hurricane hit. And there was no evidence that food or water had been left for her in the house.

After being glued to the T.V. for weeks, my heart breaking with every image of another dog trapped on an innudated porch, or swimming after Ann Curry's boat, I had traveled down to New Orleans as soon as I could get off work.... I camped for a week in a Winn Dixie parking lot with other animal rescuers and on my last day I met Beulah at a make shift triage center (otherwise known as an defunct gas station). I had never seen a more vulnerable, pathetic sight. Beulah was rooting around for anything she could find to eat, including paper and pebbles.

We had to load her on a tractor trailer to take her 2 hours away to a vet. She tried to howl, she didn't want us to leave her all alone again, but it came out as a croak... her vocal cords were too dehydrated from weeks of barking fruitlessly, and no water.

As determined as I had been NOT to return home with an animal, I could not turn my back on this dog. My family was less than pleased that I now had THREE dogs, and this one had heart worms, along with 4 different other kinds of parasites, and needed thousands of dollars of treatment that would take 6 months to make her better. She has no front teeth (I think from trying to gnaw her way out of the house)

But other than that there are few lasting scars from Katrina and her life before Katrina (which I do have reason to believe was not great). We did leave a note on the house for the owners and I was never contacted. Had I been contacted, they would have to sue me for her return. And even then....

SOooooo.... this brings us to today. For the past 4 years, Beulah has been living the life of Riley. She is my "heart dog", the special one, the soul mate of dogs. She sleeps by my head, and her snores and farts are as welcome as a fresh spring breeze. That's how much I love her.

On the weekends, we go for hikes on some trails near the landfill. The dogs can go off leash, since the trails are far away from any cars. We have been going several times per week for 4 years. With never an incident. Or not a major incident. Here is a picture of Beulah on her first hike, when she discovered running river water and spent 20 minutes barking at it. What a change from the Lower 9th Ward!

Today we arrived at the trails at 10AM. By 11AM we were heading back to the car. Beulah took off after some scent. And that was the last I saw of her.

I searched high and low.

I climbed that mountain from 7 different angles, on trail, off trail, up one side, down the other. I was parched, starved, had low blood sugar, had thorns tearing at me, was crying after about 3 hours of searching (I kept my cool for the first 3 hours). I kept thinking: "Is this how it ends for my girl? Alone in the woods? What if I don't find her by night fall? I'm NOT leaving her alone out here!" I went back to the parking lot and wrote a note pleading with hikers to look for her and left my cell number. I went off again, my legs barely able to move anymore. I called my neighbor to bring water so I wouldn't have to leave the site (her car was unavailable so that didn't work).

I had images of Beulah lying dead and that is why she could not hear my calling and my shrill whistle. It didn't make sense.... the trails are about 5 miles in all directions and I covered them all several times... why couldn't she hear me? Perhaps she was so exhausted, I thought, that she had a heart attack?

I was starting to feel nauseous, heat stroke in 50 degree weather is hard to acheive but I was getting there. It was almost 3PM.

I made deals with God: "If you let me find her, I will believe in You, I SWEAR." I wondered whether that prayer would actually work, since certainly it is the same prayer mothers of missing children say and they often do not find their kids.

I was just starting to plan how I would camp out that night, because sleep was not going to come to me, worried, at home in a warm bed. There was NO WAY Beulah was spending the night out there alone. Suddenly my cell phone rang.

"Hi, did you lose a dog?"

Yes, yes, yes, God, I did.

"Well, she's down here in the parking lot by your car."

I begged them to hold on the her and I ran down the mountain, slipping, tearing jeans, panting, crying. "Sure, honey, don't worry, we got her."

When I arrived at the parking lot, they had tied her to my car (DUMB!!! Her collar is so loose she could EASILY slip it!) but she was still there. Exhausted, bloody, torn up, muddy, tail wagging but not much. She could barely jump in the car, she was that tired.

We came home. She had a whole bowl of water, a banana for potassium, I cleaned her cuts and we all took naps. I can barely move I'm so stiff and Beulah is still sleeping.

My heart dog.

We are NEVER going to the landfill again.


Robbin said...

Oh I "heart" Beulah..... I love dogs! She is a true survivor!


Rachel said...

Wow... I'm not even what you'd really truly call a dog person and I'm awed by this post, your commitment and the journey this dog has taken. Incredible. So glad she's safe and sound.

Tami said...

Awww...what a great post. I heart Beulah also! :-)

Jen said...

Wow, what an amazing story!

Single PAP said...

aw, bringing tears to my eyes. she looks so much healthier and so relaxed in that last picture. what a trooper, that beulah!

Michelle J said...

What the heck happened!?!? Have you any idea what she got into or why she was gone so long? Poor Beuls! Poor you!
That's the place we took the dogs when K and I went with you, yes?

Adopting1Soon said...

Yes, Michelle, that's where we went when you came to visit.

I don't know what happened except that probably we were missing each other all afternoon long. While I was on the north face, she must have been on the south, etc.

I'm going to try writing a Craig's List ad for fenced in farm land near here to rent daily for a dollar per dog... Thereare so man goeous farms here with rolling hills and not all of them have cows or chickens. If the girls could run there, be safe, and not able to get lost, that would be so ideal. Plus, I will soon be carrying an infant on my back... it might be easier than hiking up and down a mountain!


4evamom said...

What a wonderful heart you have.

Anonymous said...

so you do you believe in God now??

Adopting1Soon said...

To Anonymous:
Yes. That was the deal.

Ransom said...

Wow! You had me on the edge of my seat right up to the last sentence! Beulah sure is blessed to have you!

Anonymous said...

That is very sweet.

Michelle J said...

K and I were talking about this post last evening.
1-- even though we've seen and felt how healthy and well Beula is, it is still hard to see those early pics of her. She really was as close to the walking dead as any living thing could be.
2-- we too wondered about that bargin you made with God. :)

emaye said...

Love this post. I'm such a dog lover and loved to see her cuddled up on her pillow. Such a sweety.

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Ransom sent me and thank dog he did!

OMD! What a story!

Woo are one furry special hoooman!

Beula is beaWOOtiful and about as lukhky as a girl khan get!


Anonymous said...

What a wondeful story...I love happy (ending) dog stories.



Mitchelle, you are "truly" a dog lover. What a wonderful story!

I must say you are an awesome writer. I love reading your blog. Your posts are always educational, entertaining and interesting. Keep it coming!


Kiki said...

What an ordeal! So glad you found her! Know how much she means to you. I have a feeling you'd be safe going there again and she wouldn't run off. She probably was a little traumatized by it and has learned her lesson not to go too far from you. Did you have the bells on them to ward off the bears like you normally do? I've seen an ad on tv for a battery actually, but in it a mother has some sort of tracking device on her kid and the kid gets away from her at a park and she wips out this tracking device and hones in on him. Maybe you could find something like that for the dogs? I remember how nice that hike was with you (despite the snake) and I think it would be a shame never to go there again.