I first saw Gotti about 1 1/2 yrs.ago. I noticed him chained up in his back yard and he had an old wooden dog house that wasn’t the greatest. I knocked on the door, but no one was home, so I went back to meet this boy. He was friendly and sweet and pretty old. He loved the petting and me talking to him. I gave him some food and water and a pig ear to chew on (thank you donors-it’s the only joy most of these dogs have!). I knew I’d be checking up on him again very soon. I made a note that he needed a better dog house.
I started visiting Gotti pretty regularly. I didn’t even knock anymore-I just went in the back yard and took care of him and gave him some love. Most of the time, he had clean water and sometimes food still in his pan. The bare necessities were taken care of, but he needed so much more like love and attention. I took him a large, nice igloo that was donated. Gotti, like most of the lonely dogs we visit, got to know the van and he would get so excited when we pulled up. I usually had a special bone for him. I really loved this dog.
One day when I stopped by, the garage door was open and a woman was sweeping out the garage. Finally! Finally I had the chance to meet the owner and discuss Gotti’s care. The woman said that she was glad to meet me and thanked me for the dog house and the food I left for Gotti. She kept saying, “he sure does like you!” and I thought, “yeah-because I give him love and attention”. That is what was missing in this dog’s life, like it is in so many of their lives.
We got him off of that chain and onto a tie-out cable. We talked about his health. She told me that she was thinking that she may have to put him down soon. I told her that extreme weather, whether the heat in the summer or the cold in the winter, was going to be really hard on him out there. She never really answered me when I tried to talk to her about bringing him in the house. She would change the subject or have some excuse. They had a little house dog inside. Yes, this is infuriating, but we are so used to it. We assist so many houses where there is a bigger dog chained outside, usually a pit bull and there is a small dog inside, usually a Chihuahua! They are treated so differently and I still just can’t wrap my head around it. They are both dogs, they both need love, attention, good food, clean water and to be in from the elements. They both have the same capacity for love, but one has to be outside on a damn chain in all kinds of weather and the other one gets to live in the house with the family and be loved and cared for. It is so sad, but it the “normal” out there. I told Gotti’s owner that the next winter was going to be really hard on him and he couldn’t be out there on the ice and snow as old as he was. I told her that he could slip and fall and not be able to get up and lay there and freeze to death. She just kept saying, “I know, I know, and I don’t want that for him”.
Erica and I went to check on Gotti during those sub-zero temperatures we had recently. We pulled up and he was out there. The sun never hit that side of the house very well and there was a lot of snow and ice out there in Gotti’s area. It was dangerous for him to be out there. I went to the door and talked to the woman. I told her that I thought it was time to sign him over and let me take him. I was praying that she would let me. She said that she agreed with me, but that she needed to call her son, who was 20 yrs. old. She told him that she was going to let me take Gotti and he was ok with that. Then the 10 yr. old came in the house and she told him and he started crying and went to his room. We’ve been in this situation so many times and sometimes the parent relents and won’t sign it over because the kid is so upset. Sometimes, the parent hangs tough and makes the right decision for the animal. This woman did not bow to the pressure from her crying son. We had helped her understand that Gotti had to get out of there.
Erica unhooked his tie-out cable and Gotti started his walk toward that van that always brings happiness when it pulls up. Now it was taking him to freedom.I really wanted to cry to see this boy being liberated off of the chain, into the van and on to his new rest of his life.
We changed his name to Reggie because you know they always have to lose their old name with their old life. Reggie had a nice warm bath (I wonder when the last time he ever had that was, if ever?). He got his tummy full and he curled up on a blanket on his Kuranda bed (thank you donors for the beds!). He fell asleep, warm and safe on his first night of freedom.
We love Reggie! He is SO happy to be a Chain of Hope dog! He hangs out in my office with Abby-they are the best of friends!
Reggie is a very happy boy these days! We don’t think he can hear anything, but that’s ok. He has some growths right under his eye, but they don’t seem to bother him. We really don’t want to put him under anesthesia at his age. We are just letting Reggie be Reggie. We are going to give Reggie the best months or whatever time he has left of his life. He is loved everyday by everyone that comes down to Chain of Hope. He’s a gentle old man. I still can look at him asleep on a big cushion in my office and I can’t believe it’s him! ‘Gotti’ is sleeping in my office!
Reggie really has a great day if momma brings him an egg/sausage biscuit in the morning! I am so thankful that we have time to really show Reggie what it’s like to live a comfortable, wonderful life, surrounded with love. Thank you for making this possible.