Dammit my hind legs hurt.
It wasn’t so bad when it started a few months ago, but now when I try to get up or walk the pain is unbearable – like knives shooting down my back into my legs – especially when it’s cold.
Fortunately the kind people who take care of me said I didn’t have to get up and walk around today. And they promised me that by the end of the day my pain will be gone!
Until then, they said I could stay in bed, eat my favorite treats, and play with my favorite toys all day! They also said lots of my old friends were coming to visit today to say goodbye to me.
I don’t know where they’re going, but I’m glad I’ll see them before they leave.
Since I can’t do much today, I’ve been thinking about my life and how I ended up at this place called Safe Haven Rescue Kennel 2 years ago.
I’m Tucker by the way. I’m 13-years-old now so I don’t remember much about my early life. Hell, I don’t even remember when some asshole shot me with a pellet gun 20 times but I can still feel those suckers inside me.
The first thing I remember is laying in the sun when some people in uniforms offered me some yummy food. I hadn’t eaten for awhile so I walked over to them to see what they had, but instead of giving me the food they put some round, hard thingy around my neck, dragged me to a truck, and threw me inside a box.
What the hell?
The two people in uniforms drove me to something called a county shelter and put me in a kennel with a cold, concrete floor.
Not long after I arrived one of the uniformed guys came by, looked at me, and wrote something down on a piece of paper. I heard him say he put me on something called a kill list.
I wasn’t sure what that was, but it didn’t sound good.
Fortunately, I never found out because some nice people from Our Pal’s Place near a place called Atlanta took me away.
As soon I arrived, they put me in another kennel. It wasn’t very big, and I got bored pretty quick, but people called volunteers came twice a day to take me outside to exercise and go to the bathroom (I refused to poop and pee in my kennel. Yuck.).
The other kennels were full of dogs. Some had been homeless like me. Others said their humans dropped them off at this place and never came back. That’s a pretty shitty thing to do to a dog, don’t you think?
Anyway, most of the dogs were pretty cool, but some would not shut up! I know they were scared like the rest of us, but that’s no excuse to bark all day. Sheesh.
I must say, even though I spent most my time in my kennel, Our Pal’s Place had some great perks: a comfy, warm bed (no more sleeping on leaves and dirt for me), fresh water, stuff for me to chew, and best of all, 2 meals every day!
I tried to make friends with some of the other dogs, but they kept leaving with strangers. Later I learned they had been picked by humans to go home and live with them.
I began to hope that one of those people who came to the shelter would take me home. Being homeless was lonely, and while the people at Our Pal’s Place took good care of me, I was so damn tired of sitting in my kennel 22 hours a day.
As time passed I got cranky and frustrated that no one picked me to go home with them. I mean, I knew that I was a little overweight, my ears were sort of funny looking, and I wasn’t a cute little yapper or a fancy purebred, but I was still a good looking guy with a nice smile. Why wouldn’t anyone pick me?
Then everything changed after The Bite.
It wasn’t my fault. One day I felt particularly pissed off that I had been at the Our Pal’s Place for a year and still didn’t have my own person, so I was already in a bad mood when a some new guy came to take me on my morning walk.
Usually the humans who walked me would hang out and pet me before putting on my harness, but this new guy came into my kennel – no hello, no treats, no petting – and tried to put my harness on while he stood behind me.
Remember those uniformed guys that caught me? One guy offered me food while the other snuck up behind me and put that thing around my neck. I don’t like people standing behind me.
And like I said, I was already in a nasty mood, and then some guy I’ve never seen barges into my kennel, stands behind me, and fumbles with the harness while trying to slip it over my head.
So I bit him on the arm.
Well, all hell broke loose after that. Blood was everywhere, everyone started yelling and running around, and someone took me to something called quarantine.
A few days later, one of the humans I knew at the rescue came to see me. She looked very excited, and after she told me the good news, I was excited.
Someone wanted me! No more kennels! No more dogs barking and whining! My own yard!
Later I learned I wasn’t going to live with a family. Our Pal’s Place was sending me to the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in a faraway place called Forks, Washington. The shelter people said I had to go there because I bit that guy and was too dangerous to be adopted.
My only other option, they said, was to be “put down.” I didn’t exactly know what that meant, but it didn’t sound good.
So even though I wasn’t going to a real home, going to the Olympic Animal Sanctuary seemed like a much better option than being put down.
But I was wrong. So. Fucking. Wrong.
The next day a guy named Steve Markwell who ran the Sanctuary came to pick me up. He didn’t say much but he seemed nice enough.
He put me in a crate in the back of a trailer with a few other dogs. A few days later we pulled up to the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary.”
When you hear the word sanctuary you think of a pastoral place with a big sunny meadow, some trees, maybe a pond, right?
This place was no Sanctuary. Not even close.
It was a pink metal warehouse with a small, muddy, fenced yard in the middle of a residential neighborhood, next to a truck repair shop. Trash and rusty metal littered the driveway in front of the warehouse. A bunch of poop piled higher than a Great Dane standing on its hind legs was nearby.
As soon as Markwell took my crate out of the trailer, I heard barks and howls from what sounded like dozens of dogs inside the warehouse. It was deafening.
Then I noticed the smell. That awful, ammonia smell that develops when a bunch of pee sits stagnant for days. Or months. Or years. It was so strong, it burned my eyes and nose.
The dogs Markwell and some other people unloaded from the trailer looked just as stunned as I was. We huddled in our crates until they unloaded all of us.
Then they took us inside that horrible fucking pink warehouse.
Over 100 dogs were packed in windowless rooms, travel crates, and small, wire-enclosed spaces. Many of the crates were piled on top of each other. Lots of the dogs had no water. The bowls I did see had dirty water filled with debris.
I could see why the place smelled so awful. The straw bedding in the crates and enclosures was soaked with pee and smeared with poop. They looked as if no one had cleaned them for months.
Like the outside of the warehouse, the inside was filthy. Piles of dirty straw, trash, and rotting meat were everywhere. As I took in this disgusting scene, I realized with a sinking feeling that this was my new home.
When all the dogs were inside they shoved our crates against a wall and left. And that’s where I sat for most of the next 2 years.
I can count on one paw the number of times someone took me out of my crate to get a little exercise. They didn’t even let me out to go to the fucking bathroom! Within a couple of days my straw was filled with pee and poop, and I had to sit in it. It was humiliating.
Every once in awhile someone cleaned out my crate and put in fresh straw. Those were the only days I felt any sort of happiness.
Every 3 or 4 days someone tossed rotting meat or some kibble in my kennel. We only got fresh water every couple of days. I hungry and thirsty all the time.
Oh yeah, that warehouse had no lights, no air conditioning, and crappy heaters, so it was hot and dark in the summer and cold and dark in the winter.
This place was no sanctuary. It was a jail. A nasty, filthy, disgusting jail.
People would come by every day for a few minutes to check on us. But I didn’t see Markwell much. Most days he sat on his ass in a local diner getting free food and reading the paper.
I don’t think the people at Our Pal’s Place would have sent me here if they knew what it was really like. Markwell fooled lots of people. Many people and shelters paid him to take dogs, so he didn’t need a real job.
This guy didn’t give a damn about us. He just used us to collect money.
I sat in that shithole for 2 years. My legs hurt so much now because I was trapped in that crate for so long. My teeth began to hurt like hell too, but I never saw a vet so I just lived with the pain.
One day we began to hear rumors that some people were trying to shut down this fake “Sanctuary.” We figured the rumors were true because Markwell he looked increasingly agitated and nervous.
Not long after the rumors started, Markwell stuffed us into tiny crates inside a big truck trailer and drove away.
We sat in those crates for over a week with no food or water and no idea where we were headed. One day the truck stopped, the doors opened, and people unloaded us in a place they called Arizona. I’d never seen anything like it – no trees or bushes, no buildings other a small house, no grass.
But people who unloaded us from the trailer were really cool! They put us in fenced areas where we could actually walk around! They also gave us fresh food and water and clean 0ur kennels every day!
What I liked most was lying in the sun and breathing clean air filled with sweet new smells as it warmed my body. After living in a smelly, dark warehouse for 2 years, it was heaven.
Even though my teeth were still killing me, and I couldn’t stand up very long because my legs were so weak, I don’t remember a time when I felt happier.
I had been in Arizona for about 3 months when one of the people who took care of me said I was going to a new home called Smiling Dog Farms in Texas.
But when I arrived, I didn’t see many smiling dogs.
That’s because this place was like the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” on steroids! The dogs there told me the place had over 300 dogs outside in little pens. They were never let out for exercise, their pens turned into mud pits when it rained, they hardly ever saw a vet, and for food, they mainly got bread.
I couldn’t believe I’d ended up at another crappy dog rescue. I felt betrayed by the people who sent me here. Doesn’t anyone ever check out a rescue sending a dog there? Surely the people who sent me here didn’t know what this place was really like.
I don’t know what kind of scam the Smiling Dog people were running, but they didn’t appear to care the dogs they were supposedly saving.
I was 11 when I got there, so I figured this is where I would die, alone, in my muddy pen. Eventually I got so depressed I just laid in my pen hoping the end would come soon.
And then a miracle happened.
When I was in Arizona, I’d met a woman named Maggie. She was one of the people who helped shut down the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary,” and she came Arizona to meet the dogs she helped save.
One day, after I’d been stuck at Smiling Dog Farms for a few months, I was lying in my pen, feeling depressed and waiting to die when I heard someone call my name.
Then, a miracle happened. I looked up and saw Maggie!
She heard some bad stuff about Smiling Dog Farms and discovered I’d been sent there, so she came to bust me out!
I’m not sure how she did it, but Maggie got me out of that awful place and assured me she’d found a rescue that would take care good of me for the rest of my life.
I’d heard that song and dance before, and it never ended well, but Maggie had been so nice to me I couldn’t believe she would send me to another awful place.
So I kept my paws crossed as I flew (my first plane ride!) to a place called Safe Haven Rescue Kennel in Nevada.
Some people from Safe Haven met me at the airport and took me to their place. Nevada looked just like Arizona – dry and brown.
When we arrived, they put me in a HUGE pen with a dog house-type shelter with a clean bed covered with clean, warm blankets. Finally, I had clean warm blankets!
Everyday they fed me the most delicious food I ever tasted (no bread!). My water bowl was always full of clean, fresh water, and I had tons of toys.
They came into my pen every day to play and hang out. They taught me how to walk on a leash. And they took me on walks through the desert. Eventually they let me walk off leash when they were sure I wouldn’t run away.
They also took me to a vet who gave them medicine to ease the pain in my hind legs. He also found that 13 of my teeth were rotten and infected, and it took 3 surgeries to pull them all out. I didn’t care for the surgeries but I felt SO much better after he pulled those bad teeth.
They even introduced me to the wolves, Gypsy and Denali, that Markwell imprisoned at the “Sanctuary.” Eventually they let me hang out with them in their pen!
Oh wait, I see that my friends are arriving now. I’m so glad they’re here, especially my two favorite people, Aiko and Kris. Their kindness and patience with me made the last 2 years of my life a fantastic, sensational journey, better than dog could hope for, even an old curmudgeon like me.
My friend Aiko plays with me every night!
One last thing before the festivities start – please consider giving a few bucks to Safe Haven. They took in more dogs rescued from the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” than any other group and took excellent care of us. They didn’t think anyone would adopt me, but they took me in anyway.
Here I am with Kris after I learned to run off leash!
They also gave us a precious gift most of us never had: a permanent home with a loving family. I may not have a conventional family, but I can’t imagine anything better than living with my Safe Haven family.
Click here if you’d like to make a contribution to this incredible group.
OK, everyone’s here now, so I should go. They all want to pet me and give me my favorite treats.
My friends looked happy when they arrived, but I see that many of their smiles are fading. I can feel their tears falling on me as they softly stroke my fur and scratch behind my ears. They’re saying something about a Rainbow Bridge but I don’t know what they mean.
I hope they know how grateful I am that they saved me.
I hope they know they’re the kindhearted, caring humans I’ve ever met.
I hope they know how much I’ve appreciated every touch, every encouraging word, every treat, every bowl of food, every toy, every walk.
More importantly, I hope they know how much I love them.
I’m getting sleepy now, so I’ll say goodbye. I hope you liked my story. I endured a lot of pain and suffering in my life, but right now I feel like I’m the luckiest dog in the world.
Oh, I can see the Rainbow Bridge now…..