My name is Hunter and I am a really big boy.
I have been on my own for much of my life, which is guessed to be somewhere between two and three years. I was always smart... learned to avoid the rabid coons and knew all the good spots to scrounge for food and water... though it was never free and the water was rarely clean.
There were times I had to fight for food ... and a couple of times - even my life... because I WAS on my own and there was no one to take care of me or to let me know that humans could be kind.
Don’t get me wrong. I had nothing against humans. Sometimes one would see me scrounging and would come back where I had been and leave some food for me. There are kind people in the world. In fact, there are ALL KINDS of people in this world and I have met the best and the worst life has to offer. I will bet you have too.
But it was not until this one day when I was having a particularly hard time finding a meal that I really understood what kinds of trouble a boy like me can get into on my own.
I got arrested that day. Now, never having been afraid of people, I paid no attention when the truck pulled up. Oh, I had been chased by people before.
There were a few close calls when I got too close to Farmer Smith’s chicken coop. All I saw was Chicken and Dumplings. Let me tell you: when old Farmer Smith came out of that house, I knew there was to be not a single dumpling for me that day. And I learned to stay away from places like that.
So on this particular day when the people with the poles came for me, I did not run. I wagged my tail because, after all, they seemed polite enough.
They were not particularly scary looking. And I am a charmer so I figured I might be able to charm some kibble out of these men with their long poles. I could smell other dogs on the truck so if they had dogs, they could not be all bad. Right?
Boy, I did not know how wrong I had been.
But once that noose on the end of that pole is slipped around your neck and you are being dragged away from your life to a truck - in fact, dragged away from all life to that truck where they lock you in a cage and take you to a place I really do not want to talk about – you know then.
You know that you were wrong not to run for your life when that truck pulled up.
Because the place they take you to has an odor that never goes away. You can hear other dogs there, and there are the cats who peer out from their cages with wild trapped eyes. Most cats are called wild or feral because when you put a cat in a cage, well, even a dog knows they can get pretty testy.
And then there are the other dogs. They bark and howl and growl, but what I remember is the sounds that most humans do not hear and cannot hear.
What I remember are the sounds of despair.
You know when you go into that kennel that this is the last place you will ever see.
They feed you... not the best kibble, but it is a meal. And there is water to drink. But the food and water comes with a high price and that is the smell that will never be washed away from that place.
It is the smell of fear and time ticking away the minutes. It is the smell of lost hope and it is a plea that rises up from the very heart of every animal there when a human enters.
That plea begs this one human to see what is trapped there and to free them. The despair becomes thicker when we are left behind and that terrible smell is always there, burning your nose and making your eyes water – making the sounds rise up from your heart and beg.
The terrible smell is the smell of death.
And it is not just any death. It is a death doled out to the guilty who have done nothing wrong that they know of. It is a helpless death. It is death that comes without a trial or without anyone to make an accusation against the doomed.
And you know when you are in that place that it is coming for you.
You have only one chance and it is a very slim one. The more animals they bring in, the slimmer that chance becomes. And the strongest among us hopes and wishes and begs for a chance at life. We say we are sorry even though we do not know what it is we have done. But we are there, living in a cage where we eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. We have no choice.
So, that is the place I found myself at - until I was rescued.
The first rescue got a little crowded, so rather than have to send me to a certain death, they allowed me to move on to another rescue. I will never forget the wonderful angel that came for me. For a brief moment I thought I had surely died in my sleep and awaken in the most wonderful place, because there was this beautiful lady, an angel really, named Cyndee.
I felt like a king! She was so wonderful and I slept for the long ride while she was taking me to a new life. There I met Beth, and later Jerry. I was rescued. I was saved from death – yanked away from the jaws that smelled so strongly of death. I was not going to blow this chance.
And then I learned so much more. Beth and Jerry insisted the doctor check me over really well so they could give me exactly what I needed to thrive and do well.
And they talked about people in my future that would love me and feed me and let me sleep on their bed. I was so excited! Oh I knew I had not felt well for awhile. But after all I had been through – well, I did not know.
The vet collected some urine from me and I saw the look on his face. It was a scared, almost panicked look.
And they kept weighing me and listening to my heart. That is when I learned that while I was scrounging for food and wandering through swamps to try and find a drink of water, well, there were parasites biting me.
There was a very specific insect called a mosquito that I had been bitten by. In fact, truth of it is I was bitten by those things all the time.
I thought it was just a part of my life and made the most of it. It itched when they bit, but I could not stay away from their stomping grounds because I had to have water. And I am, after all, a dog.
I am a handsome dog, and I am a GOOD DOG. I know this because Beth and Jerry say it all the time and even those people in the vet’s office tell me how handsome and how good I am. They give me treats and take me for walks. They feed me and there is always clean water. But there is more too. And the “more” is not so good.
I know why I have not felt so good lately. I know why my heart feels so heavy even when I am surrounded by so much love.
The love feels good and the hands on me telling me I am a GOOD BOY... MAN! That feels so good to me.
But the fact I have heartworms is not a good thing. I pee blood.
I have been doing that for awhile now, but accepted it as a part of my life. And then I heard them say how bad these worms are and I knew. Let me change that: I KNOW! I see it so clearly. I have finally found a place where I can get that chance that all dogs want.
I am loved. I can feel the love. But I may still die.
They are fighting hard for me, and by jolly I am going to fight hard to live too. But it is really a long process and an expensive one.
At first I could not believe what I was hearing after I learned about my illness.
I figured that this old boy had seen the last of kindness in the human race. Beth and Jerry had not arrived to see me yet when the doctor checked me, so I thought - here we go.
The doctor will tell them what is wrong with me and I will have seen the last of them.
In fact, they may decide just to go ahead and put me out of my misery. I figured I would soon be on my way back to one of those county animal shelters where I would end my days listening to the sounds of despair and smelling that terrible odor. I would not have another chance. They would take me there and drag me off to that terrible room in the back where a dog’s life is snuffed out for crimes he does not know he has committed.
At best, they would do it here at the doctor’s office and call it a mercy killing. That was the best I thought I could hope for. That had been my experience with humans and I did not blame them. It simply is what it is. That is how I saw it. Oh, I was grateful for the little bit of time I had felt loved. But I knew it was over now. So what was I hearing that doctor say?
I got the shock of my life and learned there really are good people on this earth.
I heard the assistant ask the doctor if he should take me back to my kennel and wait for Beth and Jerry to arrive – because they were coming that afternoon. Then I heard that doctor say NO. And I thought, OH BOY – HERE IT COMES.
But then I heard the compassion in the vet’s voice as he touched my muzzle and wiped the sadness from my eyes.
He said: “Beth and Jerry will want him treated now. He cannot wait. Any delay could cost hunter his life.”
And so it began. By the time Beth and Jerry arrived I had been given the first of my medicine – medicine that can cure me. Then there was Beth crying into my fur and telling me to fight. There was Jerry, his eyes moist as he stroked my head and told me to hold on and fight, that I could beat it.
They knew I was sick. They could see it. But they saw the spark in my eyes as well.
They saw the little spark of hope that had begun when the kind doctor wiped my eyes gently and told me I COULD get better. I started this thing out with no hope, until that gentle voice and touch that told me I was in kind and trustworthy hands. And this man was an animal doctor! He was not even the one who had rescued me! Can you believe that?!?
So, here’s the deal. I am going to fight this thing.
These people believe in me enough and love me enough to want me to live. And I DO WANT TO LIVE!!! I know I am a handsome dog and I am a GOOD BOY. But I know something else, too. I now know that I am WORTH SAVING. My life has value. And it is not a value that you can put a dollar amount on.
This is a much more precious value than that. It is a value that goes with being alive and having a heart and spirit. It is called love and respect. Oh how I wish all of my kind could know this wonderful feeling. So, yes, I am worthy and I will fight. If love alone could save me, well, I would be at the Den right now learning what this love and respect thing is all about from another side of life.
But, the truth is, I have to get through this first. It will not be easy. I have to stay calm.
And I was really shocked when I heard Beth talking to the doctor about that aspect of my treatment. They discussed what they called options and one was to live in a crate at the Den and not let me near the other animals so I would not get too excited. It involved a couple of walks a day, but mainly living in a crate until this is over.
I know they have to kill all the heart worms and the eggs if I am to survive and I will not lie about it, I am scared.
I was really scared about that crate and trying to stay calm with so many happy dogs around me. So, Beth and Jerry, to my GREAT surprise, chose the second option.
Because my condition is SO bad, they decided I should be very close to the doctor that can save my life if things start to go wrong.
If the heart worms begin dying too fast and start to clog my arteries,
I will need more help than they can give me at the Den. When I first heard all of that, my heart began to sink again, until I heard there was the option of staying right here at the vet’s in the hospital – where I could remain in my “King’s Suite” kennel and have a little room to move around. Beth calls it the “King’s Suite” because she says she just knows I am from some kind of royalty. She says I look very regal and noble. I do not know about all of that. But I do know I am being given the royal treatment. I am being given the best possible chance at living and surviving this thing.
Yes. I was very surprised that humans could treat me this way.
I was very surprised when I heard Beth & Jerry talking about the doctor and the bill and discussing eating Mac & Cheese if need be so I could get what I need to survive. I NEVER knew I was worth all of that! And I heard Beth say that all of you love me too. Most of you have only seen my picture, but you love me. That was almost more than this boy’s heavy heart could stand!!! I got very excited and took a leap to kiss the face of the doctor that KNEW Beth & Jerry would want me to live.
Today, as I'm writing this, I am almost a week into my treatment and I see a lot of hope on the faces around me.
I will fight! This is worth fighting for.
Your prayers and wishes will help me to live. I can feel them and they are the most wonderful gift you could send.
If you can send help through a donation of money, that would also be wonderful and appreciated by me, Beth, Jerry and the entire crew at the Den.
The treatment is costly, and there are other medical needs that are being met - nothing as serious as the heartworms, but I am receiving the best care possible here. And, well, my room is a bit expensive. It is after all the “King’s Suite.” And I know I am worth it!
So, if you can help, there are three ways you can send your support:
Beth set up my very own Chip In. She says she does not like to do those so much, but it does allow people to SEE what has been done and she says I am worth it. (I still can’t get past that “worth it” thing! It is enough to make a fellow like me blush! But it also makes me very proud.)
Or you can donate by Pay Pal.
Or you can call Southeastern Veterinary Hospital and make a donation for Hunter... in the King’s Suite. Make sure you say I am with Eagle’s Den as the name Hunter is a good name and another boy may have it as well. The number to donate directly to the Vet is 910-739-9411.
Thank You so much! Your love, prayers and donations are all very much appreciated.
Also, when you share my story, that is a wonderful gift. It helps me, and it helps others like me.
I am home at the Den now, through the worst of the heartworm treatment, but wouldn’t you know it! My luck just cannot turn.
Sometimes it is really hard to keep my spirits up cause now they have found a growth where I was neutered and we really do not know what it is. The vet says NOTHING can be done before the 15th of December when we know the heartworms are all dead.
I hope they do not start to think I am too much trouble and not worth it.
I feel so much love here and “Mom and Dad” say there is no way they will let me down. I sure don’t want to let them down. And I really do want to live and be happy, now that I finally have a chance.
Please help me. I promise I will always be a good boy and I really want to see all the worried faces smile again!
I am not the only one in need here at the Den, so I know I am in good hands because these people do not know how to say QUIT. Good thing for me, huh? Will you guys help me too please... say a prayer for me and the others here. And if you can donate to help, the links are listed.
Big Sloppy Kiss from me to you:
Hunter, (the Regal, the Proud and the LOVED).