Rascal's Third Rescue (And It Was A Charm)
I wasn’t going to go back that night. I spoke with Tami and told her that I wasn’t sure. It was going to be very windy and rainy and I thought he’d just be hunkering down in the woods for the night. He had been seen at 4:00, 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. and it was now 7:15. She said, “I’d go,” so off I went. Rascal was one of the Fairfield five (FF5), five of our rescues who, in 2008 had been convicted of running at large and sentenced to death by an evil animal control officer at our county animal impound All five were transferred to a sanctuary while we awaited the war in court to get them back. Each one had acquired injuries while in the pound, believed to be human-inflicted or incited. We ultimately did win them back, thanks to the help of two attorneys who worked for us pro-bono.
Finally, after four years in my foster care, Rascal, now six years old, was the second one to get a new home. I was so happy for him – another survivor of serious neglect, then abuse, who was going to have a warm, loving home to spend the rest of his life with people who loved and respected him.
After only three hours, however, Rascal’s life was again in peril, when his adopter called me at 7:30 and told me that he had startled Rascal and caused him to slip his collar – off to the woods he had run! I jumped into the rescue van and returned to the apartment complex. Rascal was sighted almost daily by residents within the complex and a few times by those in neighboring housing developments, but was primarily staying in the woods, bordered by Broad River Road, the Broad River, Greystone Boulevard, and Interstate 26. A savvy, surviving dog was he! A couple of times he was seen sleeping beside the trap set for his capture, but going to wait for him was like searching for a needle in a haystack. He had a very random schedule, and I was trying to be there when he “might” be there. After spending several nights in the yard of the complex, cooking steaks, chicken livers, gizzards, and hamburger patties, and baiting two different traps with strong-smelling cat food and the afore-mentioned “treats”, day 28 of his stray status came. I sat quietly on a big rock near the place he’d most recently been emerging, and almost immediately he came prancing out to go to the food dish that had been used so many times to give him so many to-go meals. I immediately tossed a piece of a hotdog wiener in his direction, and he took it, then spotted me, immediately starting his alert “get out of here” barking. I tossed a couple more, and then slid off the rock and onto my hands and knees, slipping off the poncho that protected me from the wind and rain that had been coming. For two and one-half hours I crawled on the ground, tossing wiener bits, lying on my side, whining like a puppy, and finally talking softly and calling Rascal’s name. People of the complex were all around, and each time he would spot one of them, it put me back at square one. I was so close, and on three occasions, Rascal came close enough to gently snatch the bits from my hand, take a quick glance, then he’d back off again. The ooglers were ruining everything, but Rascal did not retreat to the woods as he had been doing when others emerged in the night. I know that I looked absolutely absurd to all those humans, but apparently not to my “peer of the year.” At 9:30, I was going to leave. I figured I had gotten so close that night, December 20, having seen him for the first time since the third night of his escape 28 days earlier, I’d go back the next night, he’d emerge and I’d have enough trust from him to get him back. Then a kick to my senses told me I could not leave him in that yard – the night before I didn’t see him but could hear him howling the most lonely sounds from the woods, and I truly believed he was about to give up and move from the area to try and find a pack somewhere else – that would have been devastating and deadly, plus I would have had no clue of where to look if he did that. I spent the next 30 minutes crawling and whispering to him, tossing wiener bits, each time getting closer and closer, head down, bowing, dragging a slip lead beside me, begging God to please bring him to me. Then it happened. All was quiet around us; just Rascal and me in the dark courtyard. He was so close, but if I took one knee-step more, I might have startled him. If I got up off my hands, I would fall forward if I reached for him. Then God gave me one of the best Christmas gifts since Jesus! Rascal took one step toward ME, and lifted his head upward, fixed black eyes toward the heavens, ears to the rear. He looked like a beautiful porcelain statue in the darkness.
I reached up to his chin, 2/3 of the last wiener in my hand, and stroked his chin, then his neck and shoulder. He did not flinch and he did not run. I reached with my left hand and placed the slip lead over his head, which was still posed and looking upward, and began to talk to him, telling him it was okay. After I tightened the lead, he moved, tucking his head into my chest and under my arm. I began hugging, rubbing and whispering more to him, stroking him all over his noticeably under-nourished body and asking him to sit for me (which he did). I closed my eyes and began thanking God for this wonderful miracle. After a few seconds of expressing my unending gratitude to God, I opened my eyes, to see that Rascal had offered his right paw to me (one of his few “tricks”). I shook his paw and said, “I’m glad to see you, too, buddy. Let’s go home!” He has not left my side since that reunion. When I get up to move, he gets up to follow.
Rascal, a rescue who has never had a good reason to trust any
human, now has gained some trust for one. I have earned his trust, simply
refusing to desert him or give up on him. He is a survivor!
For that little bit of time that I experience a wonderful feeling of bonding, there was no fear, or anger, or dislike for anything in the world. It was the most blissful feeling I remember having. I have experienced the bittersweet feelings and shared last moments with many animals as they were leaving this world, but this was different – it was a bonding of sweetness and love, not loss and sadness. I have told people since that moment that if I live 100 years and even develop memory issues, I don’t believe I will ever forget my reunion with Rascal the Rescue – 28 days and 3.5 hours after his frightening escape.
I must acknowledge with gratitude, the invaluable help given me by one couple, Martha and John, who saw me the day after Rascal’s escape, learned of the event, and went riding that evening in search of him. These total strangers called and texted me when they had news of his sightings, went out first thing every morning and last thing every evening to see if he showed, re-located and baited the traps, released the cats that were caught frequently, dragged their neighbor and his dog into their apartment that memorable night, telling him he could not be out there right now, then watched with house lights turned off as Rascal and I reunited. They became two people I have grown to love like a sister and brother over the past 28 days, 3.5 hours, and beyond. Martha and John will always be considered my friends, and they are two of a rare breed that will help someone in need just because they need help. I could never have done what they did and take care of the other responsibilities that I have in rescue. They were the reason I could get a night’s sleep, because I knew they were Rascal’s friends, too. They had no investment in his life, and they had no reward coming to them for his survival and return, other than the one that kind people feel every time they help another living being in need – the intrinsic reward, a priceless gift that never gets used up, that stays in the heart for life! Selfless heroes like these two are indeed very rare.
Terri L. Williams
Make a Friend In Animals
December 24, 2012
I lost a true companion and protector in Rascal at 11:00 a.m. on April 25, 2022. Just as he'd raised his paw to greet me with our reunion on December 20, 2012, I held that same paw as he breathed his last.