Today I will take you along on a different kind of journey. My dog Java and I have had a rough time lately. She got a deep cut on her tail last week and despite giving her the best possible care and antibiotics, I today received the excruciating news that they would have to amputate the tip of her tail to avoid gangrene after all. It seems like something so petty, but all things considered, if you knew more about her past, you wouldn't wish for any more harm coming her way. I found Java on Petfinder 5 years ago, as I was looking for a suitable short haired dog to go with my asthma. I also wanted a rescue dog, as I personally do not agree with excessive breeding and all that goes with the dog show industry. At the time I was living in Alaska and most rescue dogs around those parts were huskies, labs or mixes of the two. I finally resorted to looking online for a dog near Phoenix, AZ, where we were bound to travel on my husband's business trip in early December of that year. I found Java's picture online and instantly fell in love.
java is a lover
Java had been found wandering the parking lot in front of Mama Java's coffee shop in Central Phoenix. Someone had then tied her to a handicapped parking sign to see if her owner would appear. She patiently waited for someone to show up and as no one did, the coffee shop's owner took her home with her at the end of the day. Fortunately she knew Kate, who runs Poverty's Pets, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals in low-income and undeserved neighborhoods of Phoenix. Kate came to the rescue, and soon Java was under the care of the wonderful people at Ingleside Animal Hospital, where she stayed for nearly 2 weeks recovering from her various ailments.
Java was then placed in foster care at the Columbus House, a sort of safehouse run by Poverty's Pets and its volunteers. Three months after Java's rescue, almost exactly five years ago, I arrived at this very spot in high hopes of picking up my new best friend. It must have been fate, because as I met playful, energetic Java, I knew it was meant to be. I had decided to do my best to make her into the perfect companion, despite of her disreputable "dangerous" breed, which suffers from a many misconceptions in many countries and states. "Pit bull"-type dogs have even been banned in many places due to people's ignorance and neglect. In the beginning I too was met with a lot of uneasy comments from family and friends regarding my choice of breed, but as people have gotten to know Java, she has truly won over their hearts. Java, as most pit bulls, has a big tongue and an even faster tail and is not afraid to show people how much she cares.
Since Java moved with me from Phoenix to Alaska, and then onward to Finland, I have now traveled back to Phoenix twice to participate in Poverty's Pets' activities and volunteered in organizing events and rescuing strays off the streets. Staying with Kate and spending time with her rescue dogs and the other volunteers has truly taught me a lot. It's such tremendously important and valuable work, which many people simply don't properly appreciate. Poverty's Pets organizes spay-neuter clinics several times a year to try to put a cap on overpopulation of pets in these rundown neighborhoods and to end backyard breeding. Here are Kate the Great and superb foster-volunteer Jenni, giving pit bull Frankie some much appreciated attention.
One of the most incredible creatures I've met through Kate and Poverty's Pets has been Spock. He was found underneath an abandoned house along with his friend who had helped him survive when he couldn't see much from underneath his thick eyelids. Poverty's Pets paid for multiple surgeries to get his eyes fixed and at the end of the day Kate just couldn't bear to part with this unusually handsome boy. Spock is named Spock for the obvious reason that he really looks like the legendary Vulcan himself. Spockie has a big mouth with a blue tongue and he's thought to be a mix between a Shar Pei and a Bullterrier. Despite his big, wrinkly and slightly ominous-looking face, he is one of the gentlest, most personable dogs I have ever met. And he loves to keep his guests company, like following me into the bathroom as in the picture above.
Spock and his "sister" Betty White are best friends. Betty White is a deaf pit bull. She was tossed out of a car in the middle of the day in a cardboard box at a school yard, while students looked on from their classrooms. Needless to say, even Betty has found the perfect home at Kate's residence. Kate has become quite the "foster failure", as they call it, since she's ended up collecting up to 6-7 dogs and several cats over the years. One of my best memories while staying at Kate's, has been sneaking into the nearby golf course after dark and running around the grassy fields with her pack of dogs. Such happy puppies with such a great life!
Kate and tiny little pit bull Soul. She was found emaciated in such horrifying shape, that it was a miracle that she ever survived. It took her a long time to even get up on her feet. Poverty's Pets has a video of her taking her first steps and it was just amazing to see her make such a recovery. I just learned a week ago that after several happy years under Kate's care, Soul has recently passed away. She was a true inspiration in her short but significant life. She loved to lay in the sun in Kate's front yard and just enjoyed being cared for.
For more inspiring survival stories and a glimpse into the world of rescued dogs, check out Poverty's Pets' website and like them on Facebook. Java is prominently featured on their website and will be happy to give a smooch to each and every one who helps in wishing her a speedy recovery with her new slightly shorter whippy tail!
PS. This post's first pic is of the street sign just across from the Columbus House. Have a look at the neighborhood here.