Buddy, one of more than 200 dogs that lived at the home of a hoarder in California — depicted in the video above — died last week at age 15, but not before getting to spend more than a year in a loving home.
Ida Schillaci Noack took part as a volunteer in a March 2011 rescue effort at the hoarder’s home, in southern California, and ended up, with the homeowner’s permission, bringing Buddy home with her. Three months later the Humane Society of the United States removed most of the other animals from the home. Noack took part in that effort, too.
Buddy spent almost a year and a half with Noack. Last week, the day before she had the old and ailing dog put down, Noack wrote about Buddy on her Facebook page. With her permission, we reprint it here in its entirety:
He is the greatest canine love of my life.
I’ve had other rescues. There was Elvis, followed by Miss Piggy, then Rex (who required special care due to renal disease).
After Rex’s passing, I found Sampson, an affable tank.
In between all of them have been fosters; at one time our house had 5 dogs and 4 cats. All were special.
But there was something about Buddy.
Buddy came from a hoarder’s property. This hoarder, an older woman, lived in a dilapidated house. She appeared to at least have electricity and plumbing. The refrigerator in the kitchen — only the freezer portion was working — contained just a few items: some medication and two pounds of raw hamburger, but no stove to cook it with.
In the middle of the living room there was a another refrigerator — inoperable — along with two crated dogs who had no food or water. The flooring had been destroyed down to the cement, and the walls were coated with a brown scum extending at least two feet up from the floor. At one time the property had over 250 dogs: some kenneled, some crated, many running wild, several pregnant … and most were sick.
It was obvious many of the dogs were from the same litters, spanning generations. They didn’t appear socialized; they might accept food or treats, but then ran and hid. There were dirt dens, and some kennels were only five feet long and two feet wide. The neglect of these animals had apparently been going on for years, but even worse was that the property was located in the desert of California where it was hot enough to melt the glue from our shoes.
The level of noise itself almost required ear plugs. Even in the open outdoors, the smell of feces and urine was overwhelming. In the weeks prior to my arrival several other volunteers had come down with giardia.
In all this chaos, Buddy stood out. He was a shaggy mess in a sea of shepherd and lab mixes. He moved slowly in his kennel. No barking, no jumping, nor did he run and hide. I went in as part of a grassroots rescue, for several weekends we cleaned, fed, watered and did basic medical for the dogs. We were slowly transporting them out as the rescue community could take them in. Those that were extremely sick were taken out right away.
Buddy’s hair was probably 6 inches long – so long I couldn’t see through to his eyes. He kept his head down and once he caught my scent he walked sluggishly over to me.
I squatted down, my body pointing away so that I posed no threat – and I slowly reached out to him. His tail wagged – barely – and he nudged closer. Finally I moved the hair away from his eyes. They were closed. Did he even have eyes? I couldn’t tell. I stayed a few minutes with him, then moved on. There were 200 more dogs that needed food and water.
A few hours later I found my way back to him. He came over to me in the same way and I petted and rubbed him gently.
My friend Kim came over – I told her I wasn’t sure if this old guy even had eyes. She looked at me worried, cocked her head and said, “I’ll give you a thousand dollars to take that dog.”
She repeated herself. Crap. It wasn’t the money, I was already in love with him. There was something about him that made my heart swell, skip a beat, go pitter-patter. Pick one or choose all. I called my husband, another great gift in my life. His response? “Whatever you want, my sweet.” I’m lucky.
So Buddy was loaded in a crate and into my life. The groomers bathed and shaved him. The vet pulled most of this rotted teeth out, and his blood levels were great.
He wasn’t suffering from malnutrition, giardia, mange or any tick-borne illnesses – all of which plagued many of the dogs that had already been pulled. Still, he was mostly blind, partially deaf, very thin, and not even house-broken. But he is perfect in so many other ways.
He has never barked or growled; he will just “purr” when you pet him. He’ll get the zoomies about twice a week till he falls over. He rubs up against me like a cat and then falls into my lap.
I have to carry him in and out of the house and keep him crated at night to avoid late night accidents. He loves his breakfast, dinner, and evening Kong filled with peanut butter.
Buddy is a lot of work, but to me this 15-year-old ragamuffin is worth every bit of extra care, and is worth far more than a thousand dollars. He is priceless and he makes my heart sing. Tomorrow, Buddy will cross the Rainbow Bridge, this has not an easy decision. But we can no longer help him, he will not get better. So tomorrow we will let him go, with dignity, grace and our love.
(Photos: From the Facebook page of Ida Schillaci Noack; top photo by Stella’s Hope)
Editor’s note: Volunteers are the foundation of most animal shelters and rescue organizations. In this feature, we invite shelter and rescue volunteers to share their thoughts. If you’ve had an experience with a particular dog, or a particular program, if you’ve found new inspirations, learned some lessons or just want to write about the day-to-day work you do with animals, send your story along, with photos if you like, including one of yourself, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of our “Adventures in Volunteering” posts can be found archived here.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 150 dogs, 200 dogs, adventures in volunteering, animal, animal welfare, best freinds animal sanctuary, buddy, california, dead, dies, dog, dogs, downtown dog rescue, experiences, hoarder, hoarding, hsus, humane society of the united states, Ida Schillaci Noack, los angeles, loss, mojave desert animal rescue, pets, red rover, rescue, rescuer, rescues, shelters, southern, stories, surrendered, tales, volunteer, volunteers
Stepping out onto the exercise field with a dog at the Washington Humane Society is a thrilling moment — for me and the dog I’m with.
The dog knows he or she will be going for a walk or doing a training activity. I know that — as a result of the teaching, exercising, or simply socializing — the dog will be better for the experience.
After spending a few minutes walking and working with the dog I’ve taken outside, I think about how great it would be if I could always count on a second volunteer to be there at the same time.
Volunteering should be a team sport because it takes a lot of team work to provide the best experience for the dogs.
Each volunteer should be willing to do whatever is necessary to help the dogs, including exercising them and also providing care for the animals. If one person tries to do only one task, the team suffers.
That’s why I want to encourage others to volunteer at the Washington Humane Society. Volunteering is not a game or sport, but it does require acting in unison and working together, and everyone must work hard to ensure success.
If everyone works hard together more can be accomplished. A true volunteer is committed to helping in all aspects of the care, training, and exercising of the animals. Team work doesn’t always mean that each person gets attention for everything they do. The benefit to the dogs is the reward.
This brings me to a dog with whom I have spent a lot of time at WHS. Her name is Ginger. She has beautiful brown eyes and she loves sitting close to me on the park bench outside. She also loves a peanut butter kong for a special treat.
I also help train Ginger when we go outside. She is very smart and is always looking forward to “sitting” for a treat.
Participating in this “Shelter Enrichment Activity” is one of many things you can do as volunteer.
Ginger never wants to leave my side, and loves all the attention from volunteers. On Saturday, my fellow volunteer, Valerie, and I took out Ginger together with another WHS dog and they had such a nice time cooling off together in the summer heat, sitting in the cool shade of bamboo trees.
These are great moments to share with another volunteer and it is rewarding to know that we helped take the dogs out together and that they were so calm and happy out in the field.
To meet Ginger, stop by the Washington Humane Society Adoption Center located at 1201 New York Ave. NE. To see more of their adoptable pets, visit the website. If you are interested in providing anything extra for Ginger, please contact Katherine Zenzano at Kzenzano@washhumane.org.
Editor’s note: Volunteers are the foundation of most animal shelters – if not the heart and soul, at least the arms and legs. In this new feature, we invite shelter and rescue volunteers to share their thoughts. If you’ve had an experience with a particular dog, or a particular program, if you’ve found new inspirations, learned some lessons or just want to write about the day-to-day work you do with animals, send your story along, with photos if you like, including one of yourself, to email@example.com.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adventures in volunteering, animals, dogs, experiences, ginger, guest posts, humane society, julie stack, pets, rescues, shelters, socializing, trainer, training, volunteer, volunteering, volunteers, walking, washington humane society