As a journalist, I decided to go to the dog pound, and interview
some of the "inmates". I wanted to know what it was like in there
from their perspective. What follows is not for the faint of heart.
I entered the building, and one of the workers accompanied me to the
holding area. This is where dogs are kept before they are allowed up
for adoption -- IF they are allowed up for adoption. If the dogs are
found to be aggressive in any way, euthanasia is employed.
Fortunately, if "fortunately" is the word to be used here -- this is a
Canadian establishment, and they use lethal injection, not a gas
The pound worker led me past a big steel door that says "Employees
Only". "What is in there?" I asked. From the look he gave me, I knew
that this is where dogs go in, and never return.
We moved on to a row of kennels. The dogs were barking loudly, there
was the acrid smell of urine and feces, and a feeling of despair
seemed to permeate the room.
"Go ahead," the worker said. "They're all yours."
I looked into the first kennel, and saw only the back of a medium
sized dog who was curled up in the corner of his kennel, shivering.
He was mostly white, with some black spots. "Hello?" I said. "May I
come in?" He lifted his head, as though it weighed more than he
could bear. When he looked at me, I could see he was a Pitbull. His
eyes were gentle, but filled with grief.
"Enter," was all he said.
I stepped in, closing the gate behind me. He put his head back down,
facing away from me. I crouched down a few feet away.
"My name is Pete. Petey my Master called me," he said, still not
looking at me.
"Why are you here Pete?" I asked.
"I am here because Master cannot afford to move to another province.
I am here because someone with power said I am vicious, and a
killer. Someone who never met me. Master took me for a walk one day,
and some lady started to scream when she saw me. I got frightened,
and barked at her. The dog police came, and they took me away. I
have been with Master for 10 years. The last time I saw him, he just
held me and cried. He kept telling me he was sorry. I worry for him.
Whatever will he do without me?" Pete shivered even more.
A tear slid down my face. I am supposed to remain objective, but
this was wrong -- so wrong.
"Thank you Pete." I said. He said nothing as I got up and left his
The kennel next to Pete's held a very young looking dog. Pure Border
Collie by my guess. He stood on his hind legs, looking at me through
"Hello. My name's Popper. He tilted his head. "Are you here to take
"No, I'm sorry," I replied. "But I would like to talk with you."
"Sure. What would you like to talk about?"
"Popper, how did you come to be in this place?" I asked.
Popper dropped down from the gate, with a perplexed look on his
face. He walked to the back of the kennel, then back to the front. I
noticed he had one blue eye, and one brown. He was quite beautiful.
His black and white coat was shiny and thick.
"I am not certain WHY I am here. I think maybe my family will come
back for me. They bought me when I was only 6 weeks old. I remember
they said how smart Border Collies are, and how it would be so easy
to train me. They were very excited at first. The little ones played
with me all the time. But the trouble with little Masters is, they
refuse to stay in a group. I constantly had to nip their heels to
keep them together." He looked confused. "Why won't they stay in a
group?" he sighed. "So I did what I thought I should do. I am not
quite sure why the little ones screamed when I did my job, but they
did, and the Masters got very angry at me. They also got angry when
I had to relieve myself, and did so in the house. I am not sure
where they expected me to go. All they said was that I was the
smartest breed in the world, and I should just KNOW better. Then
they left me in the yard for a month or so. I got bored a lot, and I
dug holes in the grass. The next thing I knew, the Masters brought
Popper jumped back up on the gate, his white paws protruding through
the links. He looked at me with his lovely eyes, and asked "Will you
please let them know I want to come home? Please tell them I promise
I will be good?"
"I will Popper," I said.
My heart was breaking. I was beginning to regret coming here, but
their stories had to be told. I moved along. The next dog I saw
looked to be easily 100 lbs., a Rottweiler. He was handsome indeed,
except for the scars on his face and back. He tilted his head, and
looked me right in the eyes.
"Hello. Who are you?" he asked.
"I am a reporter," I replied. "May I speak with you for a little
"Most certainly. My name is Spartan. You can come in, I won't bite,"
"Thank you Spartan. I will."
I entered his kennel, reached out and stroked his giant head. He
made a loud grumbling noise, and closed his eyes.
"Spartan, why are you here?"
Before he could answer my question, he was suddenly in the grip of a
nasty coughing spasm. It sounded painful.
"Please excuse me," he said when it passed. "Kennel cough. It seems
all of us who come in here get it.
"Why am I here? Well, about two years ago, I was born in the
backyard of some person I can't even recall. I had 11 brothers and
sisters. I recall a day when a big man came and gave that person
some money, and took me away from my mother. They had to chain her
up, as she was very angry that he took me. They chained her and beat
her. I came to know the man by the name of Jim. I overheard him
telling his friends that I would grow up to be big and mean like my
mother. But as I grew older, all I wanted to do was play and be
friends with everyone. Jim said I needed to be taught how to be
mean, so he chained me up in the yard. No more house for me, he
said, I was too spoiled. When people came by to visit, I was so
happy to see them. I wanted them to come and play. But that made Jim
angry, so he beat me with sticks and chains. When he came near, I
would roll onto my back so he would know I wasn't a bad dog. That
made him beat me more." Spartan's eyes clouded with grief. "Then he
brought me here."
I reached out and stroked Spartan's massive gentle head once
more. "I am so sorry Spartan. Some people are just plain evil." I
gave him a kiss and left his kennel.
As I walked away, Spartan called out, "What will happen to me, nice
I shook my head. "I can't say Spartan. Maybe someone kind will come
and get you. We can only hope."
I walked a little further down. I could see a shape moving at the
back of the next kennel. "Hello?" I called out. Suddenly the shape
lunged at the gate in a fury, barking and gnashing its teeth. I
stumbled backwards, and crashed into an adjacent kennel. The other
dogs began barking loudly and jumping at their gates.
"Don't go near her," a small female voice came from behind
me. "She's mad."
I gathered myself back together, and saw a little Jack Russell
Terrier behind me.
"Thanks for the warning," I was still trembling. Across the way, the
other dog, apparently a Husky and German Shepherd cross, was glaring
at me, lips curled back revealing brown stained teeth. Her ribs and
hips showed through her dull, matted grey coat.
The little dog invited me into her kennel, and I gladly went in.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Patsy." The little brown and white dog held a paw up to
the gate in greeting.
"My owner surrendered me. She said she wanted a cute little dog like
the one on the TV show, Frasier. She didn't bother to look into the
type of dog I am." Patsy heaved a sigh.
"I suppose she expected me to just lie about and only need a short
walk each day, just like Eddie, but my energy was so high that I
needed to run and play." She glanced at her surroundings. "Now I am
here. I suppose it could be worse. I could be like -- her." Patsy
looked towards the still growling dog across the way.
"What happened to make her so vicious?" I asked.
"From what we could gather," she replied. "she was found tied in a
back yard. She only had a three foot chain. Some days there was no
water. Rarely was there any food. One day a nice neighbour came by
and brought her some meat. By then it was too late. She was already
mad. She broke off her chain, and bit the poor man badly. We know
she will be going behind the steel door. I am sad to say, I think it
will be best. Perhaps then she will know some peace."
Just then, the door at the end of the building opened, and a woman
stepped inside. All the dogs began to bark wildly, then one by one,
they went quiet.
I whispered to Patsy, "Who is that? Why have all the dogs gone
Patsy breathed deeply through her little nose, and closed her
eyes. "SHE is a Rescuer. Can't you smell it?" she asked.
"Smell what?" I was confused.
"Compassion. Love. Sorrow. It emanates from her pores. She is here
for one of us, but nobody knows who just yet." Patsy looked hopeful.
The Rescuer moved from kennel to kennel, looking at each dog. I sat
quietly watching. I could see tears in her eyes as she made eye
contact with each one. She stopped at Spartan's cage and spoke
quietly to him.
"No more beatings my man. No more. You are coming with me. From here
on in, it's all going to get better."
The Rescuer produced a leash, opened the kennel door, and took
Spartan away. As he walked beside her, his little stubby tail wagged
Patsy sighed again. I could see the disappointment in her eyes, and
it grieved me. They all had the same look, as they watched The
"I am so sorry Patsy," I said in a whisper. "But you are a little
dog, and everyone loves little dogs. I am convinced you will be
rescued soon." Patsy's brown eyes twinkled at me, a little bit of
I had heard and seen enough. I needed to tell people how it was for
these unfortunate creatures. They were all here through no fault of
their own. I stood to leave. I passed by many other dogs I did not
interview, looking at each one, wishing I could take them all home
with me and give them the love they deserved.
I stood by the door taking one last glance back, when it opened, and
one of the pound workers came in. His face was drawn and sad. He
walked by without a word, and stopped at Pete's kennel. I heard him
take a deep breath, then he paused, and opened the kennel door.
The words were muffled, but I am sure I heard him say "I'm sorry old
He came out, with Petey in tow. The old dog's head hung down in
resignation, and they both disappeared behind the big steel door.
Hull's Haven Border Collie Rescue
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