Bridget is a chi-terrier mix that someone tossed off a bridge at dusk in
May 2007. Despite all odds against her, she managed to beat those odds
and survive. Bridget says thanks and wants to share her story.
saved by a woman who truly cared
rescued by Tiny Paws Dog Rescue Canada
painting of Bridget by Kate Green The Painted Pup
voice of Bridget by Cathy Young myspace.com/cathyoung
recording studio provided by Central Audio myspace.com/centralaudio
Just four short days ago, around dusk in the Winnipeg countryside, a vehicle stops on a bridge. Believing that they are unobserved, or perhaps not caring, hands toss a black something over the side of the bridge. Watching from below, a young woman strains to see what has been thrown. She races to the waters’ edge but there is nothing there and it is hard to see anything at all in the gathering dusk.
In the two days that follow, she cannot shake a feeling that tells her that whatever went over that bridge was alive and she continues her search. Finally, on the third day, she finds a small black dog on the side of the steep embankment, shaking and shivering. Carefully, cautiously, she moves toward the dog, who snaps and growls as she approaches. When she is close enough, she places a leash around its neck and leads the dog home.
What she discovers when she is able to examine the dog is this: it is a female, her stomach black and blue with bruising, her sides and back abraded, her leg damaged and her body covered in hundreds of ticks and fleas .Realizing that the small dog needs both veterinary care and a safe haven away from her own two large huskies, she calls a number in Ontario for a small dog rescue, Tiny Paws , and explains her situation.
Within hours, after numerous long distance calls and at dusk on third day, the small dog is finished one journey and about to begin another. Quarantined away from the TPDR rescuer’s own dogs, she is given a light meal, water, pain relief and a warm bed for the night. First thing in the morning, she will be taken to see the vet, assessed and treated. The rescue members are praying that her injuries are not severe, both for the dog and because they have very limited resources. The reality is that if they have to spend hundreds of dollars on this dog, then finances dictate that another needy dog cannot be rescued and will most likely be euthanized by another agency. Reality is not kind, but it is what the rescue community struggles with everyday. And to deal with that reality, some rescuers have developed a strange sense of humour: they decide to call her Bridget, at least for now.
Again it is dusk when the news is relayed, first by phone and then e-mail. The good news is that there appears to be no internal bleeding and nothing is broken and that Bridget is friendly and sweet when she is not in severe pain .It is wonderful news, actually and a there is a collective sigh of relief. She is older than was first thought, perhaps ten, which is just past middle age in a small dog, for they can live well into their late teens. O.k., perhaps a little harder to adopt, but many seniors prefer older dogs. Not too bad. Bridget has an enlarged heart, but it is treatable with medication. Hopefully the medication is not too costly; some people won’t even spend $10.00 a month. And the word truly is “won’t”, because rescues are careful to ensure that the financial obligations of caring for a dog can be met by adopters.
There is news that is not good, news that breaks hearts. The leg is ruined: the ligaments, tendons, muscle, torn beyond reasonable repair. The leg must come off. Yes, there is a surgery that could be done, but it is costly and involved a painful and long recovery and rehab process, not recommended in a dog of this age. And of course there is a third option, Bridget could be euthanized.
This is really not a choice, not when Bridget has fought so hard to live. Her foster and the vet cannot believe she managed to climb the embankment from the river, it is that steep. And with an enlarged heart: no, euthanasia is not a choice. It‘ll be the amputation, which the vet says will not diminish Bridget’s quality of life. And it is manageable, financially, or will have to be, somehow we will do it, scrape up the money. How can we not?
Today the foster will call the RCMP and the newspapers. In the blur of concern, we initially overlooked this. The young woman who saw the throw did not see the license, but surely someone will know the dog, and perhaps someone passed the vehicle when it was still light. Maybe, just maybe someone will have to take responsibility for this heinous and cowardly act. And if not, if we can just get people to be aware that rescues exist and that we do not judge why you wish to surrender your dog, that we are happy to take them.
The vet will be told that the amputation is a go and the foster will tend to her day, worrying, always, in the back of her mind. As will all the members; we will anxiously await the calls and e-mail that always seem to come on dusk, and deal with the everyday business of rescue and life and know that the time and effort is truly worth it. We will mentally encircle each other and draw together, petty differences all forgotten as our concern for Bridget, for all our dogs, is foremost in our minds.
The RCMP state that it is most definitely cruelty toward animals and that the offender deserves what he or she gave. Animal control is called and the various vet clinics around town, but no one knows the dog. Our vet reports that Bridget is up and hobbling on 3 legs, that she might be spayed and has a tattoo in her ear that is unreadable. She is eating, drinking and delivering the results of same, so all is well; amputation is to go ahead on Friday.
But wait, the owner, or former owner is located and now everything is up in the air. Again the phones and e-mails are active, and again, it is early evening. Here it is: Bridget is eleven years old and was the much loved pet of “Joe” who died in February. Joe lived with “Linda” and Joe’s niece “Margie” does not care for Linda at all, for many or even no reasons. Out of spite, or misguided love, she steals the dog and the rest you already know. Who threw Bridget? There is no proof and the police can’t charge anyone. We need her to sign the surrender forms, to let us keep Bridget safe from whoever decided that hurting the dog would hurt whoever loved or wanted her. Such angry and destructive feelings exist in human relationships. Such pain.
“Linda” agrees to go to the vet’s and identify Bridget if our rescuer will pick her up and drive her. Of course she will; she, we all want this settled. The vet will not go ahead with the surgery as things stand, with the legal ownership in question. And tomorrow is Friday that means the surgery will have to be postponed until Monday at least. And of course, the police are involved now. We have to be clear about this: finding the owner does not change the facts, it just creates more of them. For us, there is only one that matters, we want to get Bridget well and then find her a home where she will live out her life in peace and comfort.
The visit goes well, Linda wants Bridget safe, too and she does not feel that in the current situation Bridget will be. She and our rescuer weep together as Bridget strains to reach Linda. And Bridget is spayed, up to date on shots, and a friendly, loving dog. The only other thing is that Bridget has an abscessed tooth and that will have to be dealt with, either when the surgery is done or at a later date. All things are “go”, for tomorrow.
The mood in the rescue is, to say the least, euphoric.
The surgery is done, the leg amputated from the hip and it has gone well, but the tooth was abscessed to the root and there are puncture marks both on Bridget’s neck and thigh. The puncture marks indicate an animal attack, either before or after the throw from the bridge. The bites are infected and Bridget is running a temperature. She is heavily medicated now, both with pain relief and antibiotics. It never seems to end for Bridget and there are anxious days ahead.
The public outrage over Bridget’s abuse is heartening, and the donations toward her surgery and rehab make this much, much easier than it might have been. There are always dogs in need, dogs to save and it seems almost barbaric to have to use cost as a factor by which dogs are chosen. The rescue community is almost exclusively volunteer run and we all spend more of our own money, time and energy than we should, scrimping and cutting corners; it can be hard to find a balance. And always there are people who scoff that it is “just a dog”, just as once human beings of various race, age and sex were just …whatever.
Gandhi once said that you can measure a society by how it treats its animals. Sometimes, this society, our society, our civilization, seems preciously wanting to me.
Bridget is resting comfortably, although when her pain meds wear off she is a bit snappy and who can blame her. She is draining profusely from the bites she suffered but her leg is a nice clean cut and shows no sign of infection. She is walking well already; she has done stairs!!! But Bridget is a pill sneak, hides them and spits them out! What a spirited and wonderful girl she is, how deserving of a good and happy life to follow.
Days 9 &10
Everyday brings about improvement: the punctures are not draining so profusely, Bridget is making down the stairs (although not back up!) and she has her nurse well trained with a look to take her out , or to place her up on the comfie couch. Both her nurse and the vet techs report that Bridget is smart (!), which probably accounts for her survival to date. She hides her head when she sees the syringe coming and will hold pills for up to five minutes before depositing them on the couch. She is enjoying rides in a wagon and time on the porch swing, basking in the sun, such little pleasures to us, but how huge they must seem to Bridget; after all she has been through.
The key now is to avoid infection as well as bumps and knocks to her stump and sores. Fortunately she is housetrained, gets along well with the other dogs and is willing to be still, so those are hurdles(or bridges, sorry) we do not have to cross. She has made it this far, she will make it all the way.
Things are still progressing well, the amputation is healing but the puncture wounds are a concern as they are very deep and still draining. The next few days will hopefully see a marked improvement.
Bridget is still hiding from her meds but the nurse has found cheese to be a good place to hide pills. The pictures of Bridget hiding her head under the edge of the blanket as the syringe approaches are just adorable. So much spunk, our little rescued girl, so much life she has yet to live.
Bridget has a new friend, a rescue bunny named Oreo. They sleep next to each other on “Bridget’s” couch, Oreo in her basket and Bridget beside her. The other dogs come by to visit and all have accepted her except the aptly named Sassy. In time Sassy will no doubt fall under Bridget’s spell, how can she resist?
And So On
Bridget is continuing to heal well, even her puncture wounds, which no longer make a swooshing sound when she walks. Her amputation site is clean and mending and she is doing well, actually very well, physically. However, she appears to be having periods of depression, not surprising in such a smart dog after all she has been through in such a short time. She likes to have her nurse within her sight and is becoming quite attached to one of the dogs in the home. A boyfriend for Bridget; what could be sweeter?
In an effort to cheer Bridget up, her nurse bundled all six, yes, six, dogs into the car and drove to a quiet country road for a walk. Bridget trotted up beside her fellow and managed to hold the lead with him for nearly half a mile. On three legs!! What a survivor. What a blessing for all of us to read Bridget’s story , to draw from her incredible strength and to be inspired to be like her, to go deep within ourselves to attain things we never thought possible.
Bridget is all healed and headed to Toronto to live with a Tiny Paws member. Although the member will no doubt formally adopt Bridget, this 12 pound bundle of courage belongs to all of us in the rescue community and beyond. Her story is one that rescue will use to help educate the public about dogs and their care, about choices and options. The future holds so many possibilities for our Bridget, this little survivor who loves people (including children) , dogs , walks, playtime, sleeps in baskets of warm , freshly washed laundry, cuddles and, sorry to say, cheeseburgers as a (very rare) treat!! . It has been both my anguish and pleasure to tell her story, and I greatly anticipate her arrival. From time to time, there will be updates and I look forward to meeting those of you who can attend Woofstock, or other events, and meet this amazing girl in the flesh! Please understand that her health and safety are paramount and at no time will she be exploited or made to do things she does not care to do and will have plenty of rest time with her new family. For reasons that I will not go into now, she must also be guarded against being stolen, so care will be taken never to leave her alone or to publish her new address. At 12 years old , she still has lots of years left , and they are going to be ,God willing, wonderful years, proof that good overcomes evil, and that there are far more great people in this world than the piece of human garbage that first abused and then tossed her off a bridge. No excuses for this person, no justifications…nothing but the hope that he or she, too, learns from situation and goes on to lead a more productive life and does not abuse any longer.
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