Cindi helps Deborah (Kingston Community Animal Welfare) rescue and find homes for Kingston's homeless cats and dogs. Here's Cindi's story of one of Kingston's lucky street dogs and her friends.
My husband used to drive several times a week out to Caymanas to ride his horse, and one day he swerved to avoid what looked like some clothing in the middle of the road and then suddenly realized it was moving. He got out and went to look and could not believe what his eyes were seeing – a terribly emaciated dog flat out on the road, twitching a little, and at first he thought it was a death roll. But no. She actually lifted her head a fraction, and managed a slight wag of her tail, and that decided him. He had some food in the car and gave it to her, being careful to offer only a small amount, because a starving dog can gulp down too much food and suffocate.
From then on, every time he traveled that route he took food for her, and she began to improve. By now she was up on her feet and she would wait for him always at the same spot, near to a huge Digicell installation with satellite dish, security and all. We started calling her Digipuss.
One front leg was grotesquely twisted out of shape till it almost pointed backwards, and there was a long, ugly scar, possibly from being hit by a car, or more likely a human wielding a machete, but it had obviously happened some time before and she knew how to navigate on just three legs.
As she filled out she began to look quite beautiful and her fur, instead of a dusty grey, turned out to be a lovely mixture of peach and grey splotches.
The guard at the Digicell installation rather liked her and would sometimes let her into his guardhouse when it rained, so we decided to approach the bosses with the idea that it would be nice for her to officially be company as well as security for the guard. Unfortunately it backfired, and instead of welcoming her in, they vehemently rejected the idea, and in fact told us to get rid of her or they would poison her!
We had to do something very quickly and my good friend, Kay, who ran a boarding kennel at the time, said she would take her in temporarily till we could find her a permanent home. We breathed a sigh of relief that she would be safe, and Digipuss moved to town.
During a checkup at the vet she was discovered to have venereal tumours so these were surgically removed on two different occasions, and Digipuss began to thrive. Kay had grown fond of her, so the plan to look for a home were cancelled. Digipuss's new home became the boarding kennel!
Time passed and one day a beautiful male shepherd called Askar came to board. For lack of space they tried him in the same area as Digipuss, and carefully monitored the situation. But not only did they tolerate each other - they fell in love!!!
When Askar’s family finished with the renovations to their home and collected him, he pined and refused to eat, so they had no choice but to take Digipuss as well. The two lovebirds continued to be a model of devotion, always happily grooming each other and doing everything together. Life was good, even though Askar had numerous health issues and had to endure frequent trips to the vet, but now he had Digipuss for company, and he refused to go without her. If he had to stay for a few days, the vet had to keep her too.
After a time Askar’s family found themselves caught in the empty nest syndrome. The children had grown up and left and the house was too big for them to rattle around in on their own, so they planned to move to a townhouse which unfortunately could not accommodate the dogs. They would only make the move if Kay agreed to take back both dogs. Of course she did, and the love affair continued unabated till Askar began to have more and more health problems, although his appetite never flagged.
Digipuss started eating less and less, perhaps feeling his pain, or perhaps realizing that he needed more food and giving him hers, and she never left his side. Eventually the day came when Askar was in too much pain, and had to be helped on his way, so Digipuss was left alone. She must have been desolate, but following in the tradition of strong females, she slowly picked up the pieces and kept going, making new friends like Homester and Eve and most recently Barney.
She seemed content enough for a while, but in her later years, the light started fading from her eyes. It was clear that the years were catching up with her. After all, we calculated that by this time she must have been around 16 or even 17 years old. Her fur lost its sheen, she moved more slowly, and the injured leg attracted arthritis.
One night she lay down and began to whimper and groan. It was happening. The diarrhoea was bloody, her breathing became laboured and she started having mild seizures. It was time for her last visit to the vet.
I like to imagine that when she arrived at the Rainbow Bridge, Askar was there jumping up and down and saying “My darling, whatever took you so long?”