Thanksgiving's leftovers were barely gone when a few foster families were about to grow for the holiday season. The "Alligator Alley" Cavaliers, as they became known, were in the process of being rescued. As happens with extreme rescue cases, no background information accompanied the dogs. Even the circumstances of this rescue are cloudy. Widely reported as having been tied to trees along Alligator Alley, these were second-hand accounts that might be questionable.
No matter. Angels, earthbound and otherwise, were at work to save these seven Cavaliers; four boys and three girls, between one and six years of age.
The first angels pulled them out of an abusive situation, housed them temporarily, and got Cavalier Rescue of Florida involved. More angels transported them across the state to the angels that would foster them.
Buddy took up with Bob Blair in nearby Fort Myers, while Simon and Theodore landed with Roland Morin and family in Deltona. Hailey found her way to Shelly Renaud in Daytona Beach, and Trudy and Teddy found respite with Cindy Allen and family all the way in Gainesville. Holly ended up with me in Sarasota.
Some might say "rescue accomplished" and certainly they were free from the abuse, but the real work was just to begin. We'll never know the cruelty they had endured, but all of these dogs were scared, huddled together, and trembling with fear. They ran rather than be touched and thought nothing of wallowing in their own filth. If they'd ever had human contact, it wasn't good.
Whatever the background, be it a puppy mill or mental illness, those of us that love the breed can't imagine how anyone could ever inflict the mistreatment these dogs must have suffered.
I had never fostered a dog before, much less one abused. My Cavalier King Charles of almost 11 years, Gabriel, fell to heart failure last October and I was moved to become involved in rescue. I got the call asking if I'd foster Holly on December 5th, Gabriel's birthday. I didn't ask a single question; I recognized the message from my angel.
Hours later I was lying on the floor of Bob Blair's house in Fort Myers. Holly and Buddy were sharing the space with Bob's Cavalier, Bella. Two hours of lying on the floor only got me a few seconds of a sniff before Holly would retreat frantically. Treats barely changed her stance. In several days together, Bob had not been able to pick her up. She had not been fitted with a harness or collar. Finally, it was time to bring her home. It wasn't pretty, but at last the chase was over and she was poured into the carrier. I felt awful that we had terrorized her again.
The drive home had me anxiously trying to grasp the gravity of the situation. I had done some research, but nothing prepared me for this. Everything I read suggested I had to let her come to me, but I had to get a harness on her.
At home, I got into the bath tub, carrier in my lap. She wasn't going to get past me easily. I opened the door and we talked for over an hour, treats coming along the way but she was glued to the back end of the carrier, quivering in fright. I had to pull her out. In my arms, she squirmed wildly but I was determined we were going to hug this out. She soiled herself in the process,...
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