The Heart of a Rescuer

I’ve read heroes described as people who run toward danger instead of away from it. They are the firemen who run into burning buildings. They are the people who snatch children out of the path of speeding cars. You get the idea.

I thought about this today after an experience I had on Facebook. I was tagged into a rescue conversation early this morning about a pair of dogs who had been found in Portage County. Meet Bert and Ernie.

ernie_bertThese two little guys were found in the woods near a cage from which they had escaped. Somebody had abandoned them there, inside of a cage that had been duct taped closed. The people who found them rounded them up and took them home, then contacted a friend of theirs who is a rescuer. That person started a conversation on Facebook and tagged a bunch of other rescue people, including me. The conversation was meant to mobilize our community to get these boys to safety. By day’s end, they were safe with JJRuff Roads rescue in Stark County.

cageTwo little dogs abandoned inside of a duct taped cage in the woods. I wish I could say that this was a highly unusual case — that people are not usually this cruel — but I can’t. It’s just another case in a never-ending stream of cruel things people do to pets. Many times far more cruel than this.

Sometimes the circumstances really bother me. Sometimes I dwell on the stories for days, unable to get them out of my head. But more often than not the story behind the circumstance is the last thing I am interested in. Once these guys were safe, I posted them on my Facebook page explaining the circumstances and with a shout out to everyone who worked on getting them safe. Then, some of my friends began posting comments of outrage that someone could do such a thing to these two precious dogs. I’m glad to know I have empathetic friends.

That’s when I started to think about the difference between action and reaction; what makes people heroes, and what makes people rescuers. The comments on my post were reactions. The people commenting weren’t rescuers, they were just people disgusted by the story of abandonment. That they reacted is not unusual – most people react.

But rescuers are different. Rescuers act. Part of acting means that you have to let go of how the situation makes you feel, suspend your anger, figure out what needs to happen, and then work to make it happen. This is what rescuers do on a daily basis – shove the horror and disgust way down deep and focus on the task. There’s time for screaming into the void later.

I realized today that not everyone is capable of that. The heart of a rescuer is strong and fearless.

I wonder what we are running toward.


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My Jack of Hearts

It’s been a rough couple of months.

Our oldest dog, Lammy Lamb, has been getting nearer to the end of her life, and I have been struggling. I’ve had to make the dreaded decision before — only two of the 9 dogs we have lost over the years died in their sleep– but for some reason, this time it is especially hard.

manga napLammy Lamb came into my life when I needed her most. I was trying to claw my way out of a deep, suicidal depression. She was nine-years-old, and not like any dog we had ever had. She was hilarious. In a world that I was finding increasingly baffling, and uncomprehendingly cruel, the laughter she drew out of me was no small feat.

She came to us with the name ‘Desiree’, a moniker too high class and polite for such a little rascal. Being a Jack Russell Terrier, she was clever and mischievous. It kind of comes with the territory. She loved being the center of attention, and she loved to be babied.

desi_t_smThe removal of all of the bottom teeth between her incisors left a wide space, and where before her tongue had rested against those teeth, now it often protruded a half-inch or so out of her mouth. The result was a face with an expression so adorable we were often reduced to baby talk when addressing her. Like two little girls with a favorite doll, Dalene and I dressed Desi in baby clothes and took turns holding her and rocking her. She loved the attention and would let us hold her for hours. Whenever we passed her back and forth like an infant we wouldn’t be able to keep from laughing. She was such a stiff little dog, but so content to play the baby, dressed in jammies with her tongue sticking out. Never had a dog been made to feel more loved and welcome in our home.” (from Circling the Waggins)

 Her curly coat and peculiar gait reminded us of a little goat, and so she became known as “Lammy Lamb”. At nine years old and true to her breed, she was full of life and full of business. She kept busy by aggravating the other dogs, and teaching them bad habits.

all ready for Cleveland's Gay Pride, circa 2008.

all ready for Cleveland’s Gay Pride, circa 2008.

Lammy-Lamb has (also) taught Waldo how to chase the cats. He caught on immediately and takes great delight in tormenting them. (…)

Lammy-Lamb does not chase the cats. She leads the charge, but as soon as she knows that Waldo has taken up the chase, she backs off and watches while he bullies and chases and is scolded and shamed. Lammy-Lamb is a very bad influence. If she didn’t live here, I wouldn’t let Waldo hang out with her.” (from Circling the Waggins)

Lammy Lamb has been circling the exit ramp since December of 2013. She had a honking tumor on her adorable doopa that had reached a crisis stage. It was surgery or euthanasia. We opted to give her a chance, and she had the surgery. Throughout 2014, she waPICT1439s back to her feisty and incomparable self. But by April of this year, her health had begun to head south.

We gave her everything we could think of to give her quality of life. When she began to lose weight, we switched her to a high calorie food to help her keep the pounds on. When she was having trouble retaining body heat, we dressed her in a onesie. When she began getting forgetful about going outside, we put her in diapers. I washed her soiled bottom sometimes five times a day. When her eyes failed and she began getting herself into sketchy predicaments, we crated her at night for her safety. When she had trouble getting traction on the floors, we bought her traction socks; and when those weren’t as successful as we’d hoped, we bought her shoes. On cold nights, I took her to bed with me and curled my body around hers.melammysleep

Lammy Lamb had bad days that were very very bad, and good days that were amazing. But it was a roller coaster. After a run of bad days, I would begin to struggle with what should be done. She became very sick and dehydrated, and in a last ditch, we gave her lactated ringers for ten days. She regained her strength. She ate with gusto!

Then, three weeks ago another low so frightening I became resolved and made an appointment, but Dalene convinced me to hold off, and the following day Lammy Lamb bounced back with new vigor.

Each up-and-down-and-then-up-again, the ability to make a decision became harder.

Sound asleep.

Sound asleep.

Now, it’s only a few months short of her eighteenth birthday. She has been with us for half of her life. Her spine is so bent, that head hanging, she staggers like a drunken crone. Her movement across the room is often achieved via a combination of drunken stumbling, somersaults, and scoots. Sometimes, when standing still, she places the top of her head on the floor to balance herself. Everything has become a struggle.

The only thing left to do for her is hold her, which she loves — except when she doesn’t. Then she makes her will known by kicking her legs like any two-year-old taking a tantrum.

This past Saturday, she stopped eating. lastlammy2We have not been able to tempt her palate even with Prime Rib, so we know that now it is truly time. I took her outside today so she could lie naked in the grass for thelast time. To feel the sun on her bones, the breeze in her fur. I will take her to bed with me tonight and cuddle her as long as she’ll allow.

Tomorrow, I will help her run free again.

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I’m Stealing Your Dog on Friday

I’m stealing your DOG on Friday.

You know, that dog who your wife used to hold on her lap all day long. The dog that stayed glued to her side while she fought cancer. She loved that dog.

I’m stealing your dog on Friday.

That dog you leave outside in all kinds of weather. The one you said didn’t need a bath because she’d been out in the rain all day.

I’m STEALING your dog on Friday.

Because she’s spending way too many hours lying under your porch. She’s lonely.
You might be feeding her, but there’s more to having a dog than just providing food and water.

I’m stealing YOUR dog on Friday.

Because the only time you talk to her is when you are snapping at her. Because since your
wife died three years ago, she hasn’t been petted even once. She never hears a kind word.
She doesn’t wag her tail any more.

I’m stealing your dog on Friday.

Because you won’t license her or get her shots, or put her on heartworm preventative. You let her nails get so long they are growing into her pads. She is neglected.

I’M stealing your dog on Friday.

Because the way she howled the last time I drove away has been haunting me. She was crying for help.

I’m stealing your dog on FRIDAY.

Because she deserves better than the lonely life she has.
Because she deserves to be loved and valued.
Because she deserves to be happy.


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A Dog Poem. A poetic interlude, Up on the Woof.


Summer nighttime

I park the truck and let you out.

Gravel crunching underfoot

So small and fast, you fly ahead

Barking at some unseen trespasser

To protect our home that’s not our home


In low dark shapes

My fear darts across our moonlit yard

That’s not our yard

To meet you

Your angry snarls are swallowed

By a chorus of throaty others


Teeth flash, fur blurs

In the unseen engagement

heart pounding, I run

Praying I’m not too late

to save you.


Sensing my fear perhaps

you wake me from the horror

that’s not our horror

with sheepish reassurance

cold nose to my ear

you save us both



2011 C.A.Wulff

Illustration: “Black Dog Runs at Night” Akwaforta, 2005

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Super Seven Hour Sunday Sale!

TODAY ONLY, between the hours of 3 pm – 10 pm, you can get a copy of Born Without a Tail: the Making of an Animal Advocate for half off the cover price and FREE shipping! As a bonus, you’ll also get a Circling the Waggins bookmark.
Hurry, supplies are limited

bwatcoversamp_sm (2) Buy now button
“Born Without a Tail captures the real scenario of those people who simply find it impossible to turn away, or say no to, a stray or an animal in need of human intervention and love. Wulff writes with an imagery that is easily visualized by the reader. Anyone who enjoys animals in the least will appreciate Wulff’s adventures with these four-legged creatures.” — Brecksville Magazine

“If you [also] love animals, I can guarantee you will adore this gem. The love Cayr and her friend, Dalene, have for these animals is clearly portrayed in this moving yet uplifting book. They are animal lovers with big hearts for not only domestic animals but for the waifs and strays too. I couldn’t put this one down. I thought it was an absolutely brilliant book, especially as I myself share the same passions as the author and her “life mate” have for animals.

This is a tale that will appeal to animal lovers and perhaps children too.” —

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The Truth

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Everybody Needs a Little Help Sometimes

Recently, the PetPlace blog had an article entitled “Who Deserves a Pet? The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out“. It was about the controversial subject of whether or not a person should have a pet if they can’t afford to care for it properly.

The author wrote: “My first thought is that everyone deserves to have a pet. Pets provide an unconditional source of love, companionship and loyalty that we all need in our lives. But what if you can’t afford to properly care for the pet? Is that really fair to the pet? Pets are like our children. They need love, food, medical care and a responsible person to put that all in order. The person who owns a pet must be able to meet that pet’s needs. And the sad truth is that everyone is not equipped to do that.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an animal in need in my Facebook feed and dozens of comments underneath the photo that say things like “You shouldn’t have a pet if you can’t afford to spay or neuter it”, or “That person shouldn’t have a pet if she can’t afford_____”(surgery, flea and tick meds, heartworm preventative, emergency treatment, or whatever the pet is in need of) If only the world were that simple. While there may be a segment of the population who gets a pet without any thought as to how they will pay for maintenance care like pet food and vaccinations, there are also those who are prepared for those things when they get a pet until…. coasterdogsThey lose a job…or their pet becomes chronically ill…or a family member becomes ill…or they have an emergency auto repair…or some other tragedy or emergency throws their world and their finances all a-kilter. The truth is that anyone can find themselves in need of help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have their pet. Next time you see someone being crucified because they can’t afford something their pet needs, try to remember that there may be a circumstance that has sent things off the rails for them. I currently have a pack of five dogs. We do pretty well with them. Everyone is UTD on vaccinations – distemper, corona, rabies, leptospirosis, lyme disease, bordatella. The ones that need professional grooming, get it. Everyone gets a yearly wellness exam. Everyone is on heartworm preventative and on flea and tick meds. Waldo, who had double ACL surgery, takes a daily joint supplement. pet medsThey have an expensive fountain water dish so their water is always fresh. Our oldest dog, Lammy Lamb, takes an antibiotic one week every month. She has trouble with her balance and footing, so we bought her shoes. She found them so helpful she has already worn them out and we had to order her a new pair. Rocket Boy has a serious rawhide addiction that requires ridiculous quantities of rawhide for his monthly fix (to lick, not chew)…and of course, we feed them a healthy wholesome, not exactly cheap, food. Combined, this requires quite a substantial sum of money per year.  Honestly, if you ever looked at my monthly budget, you’d see all this stuff there…but what you wouldn’t see is an entry for entertainment, or clothing, or even food. So, even though we’re taking good care of our dogs, we’ve had to make certain sacrifices in order to do it. (No, we haven’t stopped eating, but it’s not something we can budget…what’s left over buys food) I won’t even discuss the expense of what’s needed to care for the hermit crabs. Well, we’ve finally hit an expense or two in dog care that has tipped the balance and is wreaking a bit of havoc on the budget. Lammy Lamb, now 17-1/2, requires certain things to get her (and me) through the day. One of these is diapers, and the other is increased PICT1799feedings.  We’ve had to switch her to soft food for her teeth and digestion. It’s way more expensive than kibble – especially since she is eating 4 times a day. And the diapers…well, she’s not so much incontinent as she is forgetful – so managing the messes is preferable to following her around with a dustpan and mop. I know, these sound like ridiculously simple things, but it’s been a hardship. 17 is a  nice long life for a dog, and some of you may be wondering why we haven’t put her down. Well, she doesn’t have any serious health concerns. She has a good, strong heart; her kidneys are functioning just fine, she has a great appetite, and she still enjoys and seeks out human interaction. She’s forgetful, but what grandma isn’t?  That’s not a dog you put down. So, I’ve been looking for paying projects and ways to earn the extra cash needed for her care. Here are my skills:

  • Graphic Design (flyers, menus, book covers, bookmarks, packaging, etc.)
  • Book formatting for print and kindle
  • Proofreading
  • Writing

If you have a project in one of those categories that you need help with, please email me. If you’ve been meaning to read one of my books for awhile, how about now? There are links where they can be purchased in the margin to the right. If you’ve been knocking around the idea of purchasing the 2nd (enhanced) edition of Born Without a Tail, you can buy it here for  1/3 off the cover price. bwatcoversamp_sm (2) Buy now button Or if you just want to be a benefactor to Lammy Lamb… PICT1439 donate buttonWish List:

  • Diapers: size 2 or 3. (we use regular baby diapers)
  • Diaper coupons.
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish coupons. (wet & dry)
  • Hills Science Diet or Evangers coupons (wet only)
  • Paper towels.
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