This is not an actual fable but it has a moral none the less. It is the story of two Wichita Falls animal rescues. It is the story of a goose, a pit, and why those of us in animal welfare have to be a bit crazy to do what we do.
We will begin with Hope, a goose that made her way into all of our lives via Facebook about 2 months ago. Hope unluckily found herself entangled with fishing twine. Her peaceful life at the Lucy Park Duck Pond was invaded as do-gooders watched her poor leg swell around the embedded twine. Weeks went by and the inflamed leg grew increasingly more painful resulting in Hope rarely putting any weight on it.
Many people tried to help. Wild Bird Rescue attempted to catch her. Groups of animal lovers from multiple animal welfare organizations tried the same. We had blankets and pole nets but nothing worked. Our efforts were further complicated by a large number of geese and ducks at Lucy Park. It’s impossible to feed just one and because Hope was injured the others picked on her and didn’t let her near us. On Halloween, fearing time was critical for saving the leg, we got serious. Armed with a throw net, blankets, and sheer determination, we set out to catch Hope. We failed but tried again the next day adding a 2nd throw net to our arsenal. Again, we failed and went home without Hope but not hopeless.
Several group members continued to go each weekday morning just to earn trust and continue checking on her. We feared the infection was in the blood stream and worried about her losing her leg if not her life.
On November 6th, one of our devoted PETS volunteers, Carrie Tucker caught Hope single-handedly. Wild Bird Rescue was ready and removed the twine immediately. Hope is still recovering and we do not know when she will be released. The infection is worse than we originally anticipated and the area may have to be grafted but Hope has a healthy appetite and her feisty nature rears it’s head when it’s time for her medicine.
For those of you shaking your heads as you read this, silently chastising our foolish and failing efforts at catching a mere goose, I urge you to come join the fight next time we put a plea out for help. For, even though we were armed with assorted nets, agile bodies, and persistence, none of us could fly.
If you have been to PETS in the past 4 months or traveled on the east side, chances are you saw our neighborhood Pit Bull endearingly named by Texas Pit Crew’s street team, Vada. She is the beautiful white female with brown spots and satellite ears that commonly sat on the corner of Lincoln and Burkburnett. Vada’s story is complicated but comical.
PETS, Texas Pit Crew, Animal Services, and many kind-hearted citizens were all invested in Vada’s well-being. All of us had separately tried catching Vada to no avail. Vada will be known forever in history as the smartest dog any of us have ever met. We can tell you with absolute certainty that no other dog will ever steal her title.
Vada evaded capture like a ghost. We all had her cornered many times but she escaped. She can climb a fence like a monkey, run like a race horse, and not even break a sweat. At one point, 2 TPC volunteers were closing in and Vada unexpectedly charged them knocking them both flat on their backs. While plotting our strategy on one side of the street, Vada could be seen flaunting her freedom on the other. She was happy to take any food we had to offer but only if we put it down and walked away. She would take treats from Jeremiah Love’s hand as long as he stayed in his car but if he opened the door, she would decline. She would help herself to meals at a local shop but if the owner even looked in the direction of the door she bolted. She could get the food out of a trap without setting it off. She caused many of us to impede traffic as she crossed MLK and Lincoln with reckless abandon. We watched her be attacked by another roaming dog and we knew eventually Vada’s luck would eventually run out.
Half of Vada’s appeal was her bold “you will never catch me attitude.” She was the roadrunner and we were the coyote. Our cat and mouse game began over the summer but with impending cold weather and a possible pregnancy, we had to change our approach. Animal Services was also trying to catch Vada because of complaints but she avoided their traps as well. As a final resort, Katrena Mitchell agreed to loan Animal Services’ tranquilizer gun to Dr. Rouillard who we innocently coerced into helping us. We all joined forces Monday, November 16, and we caught her.
We did not have to tranquilize her. Everything just fell together. Lisa Lopez in the Housing authority kept us posted on Vada’s whereabouts all morning. At 1pm, Makayla Davis and Jeremiah Love begin tracking her so that when Dr. Rouillard finished surgery we knew exactly where to go. Karen Hamlin, Nick Watson, Maggie King, and I joined the hunt with Dr. Rouillard. Unable to get close enough for a shot we followed Vada to a nearby yard whose fence she effortlessly jumped inside of. We all covered the perimeter of the fence to dissuade her from jumping back over. The homeowner granted us access and Dr. Rouillard bravely went inside. Feeling trapped, Vada sought refuge in a dog house giving Dr. Rouillard the opportunity to simply slip a lead around her neck when she poked her head out.
Most unsocialized dogs will turn into tasmanian devils upon being leashed but Vada just laid down. We sedated her and took her back to the clinic to spay, vaccinate, test, etc. She trembled in fear after she woke up but still accepted our affection. She put her head on our legs, allowed us to pet her, and even ate a little.
Last night, our “Catching Vada” crew facebooked each other relentlessly. We laughed about the trouble Vada caused, relived some of our favorite Vada shenangians, and all slept peacefully knowing for the first time Vada was somewhere warm and safe while it stormed. This morning, I walked Vada around with me as I opened the clinic. She stuck close to my side and allowed my personal dogs to invade her space with curious sniffs and stares. She goes home tonight with her foster and will be seeking a very special home (through Texas Pit Crew) that is patient and willing to learn her story. Vada has lots of love to give and the family that adopts her will proudly own the world’s smartest dog.
I began by saying that “The Pit and the Goose” is a modern day fable so let me close by explaining why. Saving Hope and Vada took an entire network of people. We all brought different skills to the table and had different resources to lend. Separately, our efforts were futile but together we saved both animals. To some, Hope and Vada may just be a goose and a pit but to us, they are living examples of what Wichita Falls can do when it stands together. Hope and Vada’s lives are forever changed for the better because of our patience and persistence. We can not save them all but by working together we can save a lot more than we would by ourselves.
Special Thanks to our Hope Crew: Jan Herzog, Ashton Swagerty, Dee Stanfield, Jayme McMahen, Brenna Litteken, Jon Brightman, Maggie King, Barbara Deatherage, Gerald Hohfeld, Kim Blankenship, Carrie Tucker and most importantly Wild Bird Rescue. This accolade is not exclusive. There are many kind hearted citizens that watched over Hope and tried catching her on days I was not present.
Standing ovation for Team Vada: Carrie Tucker, Nick Watson, Makayla Davis, Lisa Lopez, Karen Hamlin, Maggie King, Jeremiah Love, and the amazing Dr. Rouillard. Again this is not exhaustive. More than 25 people were involved in Vada’s story. These are just the lucky ones present when her happy ending began.
Thank you to Animal Services, Texas Pit Crew, WIld Bird Rescue, Emily’s Legacy, Paws for Greatness, the Humane Society of Wichita County, WIld Baby Orphanage, THLN, Big Dogs Little Hearts, The Obedience Training Club, and everyone at P.E.T.S for your devotion to animals in our community. Unity in the Community, NKWF!