Everything happened so fast I have not had a chance to tell you all about Karma.
My company has a terminal close to Dallas, Texas and a few months ago I had seen a white dog hanging around, she just sat in front of the guard shack.
Everywhere around the terminal there were signs that said “Don’t feed the stray”. I asked the guard where she came from and he told me that she had puppies and had turned up last winter begging for food. He said he believed the puppies, now about 7 months old still lived on the other side of the fence in the adjacent junkyard. In fact, on my last visit to our terminal he told me he still sees them from time to time.
The mama dog, for some reason stayed at the guard shack, she just wouldn’t leave. Whenever the guard got up to check in the trucks, she got up and stood next to him. When he opened the gate, she herded the trucks in and returned to the doorway. When he made his rounds to do inventories of trailers she followed him and stopped when he stopped.
One guard in particular thought he might like to take her home but unfortunately, she would not permit anyone to catch her and she bit a few guys when they tried.
On a couple occasions, a group of drivers and guards attempted to corner her to get her in a kennel but she went wild and struggled so much they ended up letting her go.
I understand once they even got her inside another truck and she was fine until it started. They said she went wild inside the cab so she was set free.
Our terminal manager hoped someone would adopt her. She was becoming a problem because of her natural herding instincts. He said if code enforcement stopped by and saw her herding trucks at the guard shack, nipping tires they could get in trouble. They could cite them with a violation because the guard company was not licensed for a guard dog, it could jepordize their license. It sounds crazy but you know it could become a liability, especially because she had begun herding drivers also! It only takes one person to say they were attacked by a dog and her life would be over.
I had said I would take her to a no-kill facility last time I had stopped through our terminal but later I changed my mind knowing I would end up keeping her. I am still emerging from my own real life traumas and have not yet fully come to grips with them. Adding a dog to my life right now did not seem like a prudent decision.
I had made phone calls to a few people and one lady said she was getting an apartment in Dallas and would adopt her. I thought for sure she would be gone but there she was when I returned months later.
I asked the guard why no one had taken her and he told me about the issues they had catching her and that they even had animal control come out and get her to take her away but she came back!
She apparently was gone 3 weeks and no one knows for sure if she escaped from the animal control officer or a new home but somehow she found her way after 3 weeks back to our terminal in a southern suburb of Dallas!
I was amazed by the story and I knew this dog had some serious trust issues and probably would escape again if she was not supervised full time. She looked sick also, her coat was dull and she looked very tired. Living on the street was wearing on her face and her coat. I knew as the hot Texas Summer approached this little girl would have a tough time surviving.
I spoke about the dog on Twitter and debated catching her. I was egged on by troublemakers like @AllenMireles a PR Strategist who convinced me the dog kept appearing to me for a reason and I had to accept her. I told my friend that was easy for her to say because she doesn’t live in a tin can with wheels and have a nice brown comforter that will be a white hair magnet.
But that was just the beginning; I was being Tweeted from around the world about what would become of the dog. I was not going to be able to just drive away on this one.
The next day, I went to Petsmart which was the first time I had been to one since I had driven up to a lady in to the parking lot 2 years ago when I was homeless and asked her to help me find a rescue to surrender my beloved Lab & Bassett Hound in desperation because it was too hot for them in the car and we had nowhere to go.
I cried the whole time I was inside the store, remembering my better days when I would take my dogs for a shopping spree and play with them at the beach. I felt I let them down and I felt I did not deserve to have another dog in my life because of it.
I have since been in touch with my Lab’s new family and they have read my student trucker story and reassured me that they think this was all supposed to happen. My Henry has an excellent home with a pool where he can swim. My sweet Mary Jane I have been unable to get word on. I was told she got cancer and died shortly after I left her.
The lady that helped me that day find a rescue for my dogs is someone I have called from time to time and she told me Henry waited for 2 weeks by the door for me to return and then one day he gave up and jumped on the bed with her. He knew I wasn’t coming back.
At Christmas, I was advised that Henry, might have cancer but thankfully it was a false alarm. I still keep their pictures near me and I miss them very much.
I’ve rescued animals of all kinds since I was a child and since I became a trucker I see lots of strays, lots of dogs killed who come up on the highway to eat road kill.
The most disturbing though was a female pit-bull I saw in Virginia on I-95 who had full milk and was eating a dead deer, then picked up a leg bone to carry home.
There are so many unwanted pets and even more horrible pet owners who have a dog they do not care for properly.
Sometimes life changes course for us in such a dramatic way we just could never predict. I never thought I would lose everything like I did. Lot’s of people are experiencing this now. Often, pets are left abandoned to fend for themselves, if they are not fixed they have more unwanted puppies that never have a home. They live a miserable life on the street and die suffering from starvation or disease totally neglected when all they give is love.
So despite everything I felt I had to catch this little dog and give her a chance to put her hobo ways behind her. Even though I’m sort of a hobo myself.
I bought all the dog catching devices I could think of including a muzzle if she attacked me. I even got her a name tag with “Career Stray” for the name with my phone number in case she got away from me.
The guard told me that if she even saw a leash she would run away and sometimes be gone for 3 days. I had to formulate a strategy. I returned with my bag of tricks, prepared to get bit, scratched & yelped at by the little hellion.
I first brought out a collapsible bowl of delectable venison and rice morsels that caught her nose right away. I sat on the curb and put the bowl down close enough to grab her when she got close.
She was hesitant but eventually she took a small taste, then stepped back. Her next approach was quick; she grabbed the entire bowl with her teeth and ran off with it! Obviously not her first rodeo with dog-catching do-gooders like me!
Well, the guard assured me she would be back and after awhile, and sure enough, there she was trotting back to her post to herd trucks. I went to fetch the empty dog bowl. My brain went to figuring on another diabolical plot to catch the little dickens. The guard said he was one of the few people she would let pet her.
She had once before let me pet her but now that she was on to me, she was keeping a curious eye on my movements.
I set the dog lassos and gizmos inside the guard shack and agreed he should grab her. I made a harness for her and Voila! Well, it only took a few minutes for the deed to be done. I got the muzzle on her with relative ease and put her in the truck.
One of the first pictures I took of her in the truck was when we drove out of the gates that day and you can see how tired she looked.
I thought the guard would be happy but he actually got teary eyed when she was leaving. I was also surprised how calm she was after all the stories I had heard about her.
We returned to the pet store so I could get her properly fitted for a new leash and collar. She was very scared but she followed me. Then she slipped out of the homemade harness I made and went running loose in the store!
I was beside myself, I thought she would go crazy and run out the door into traffic and get killed all because of me. Oh my gosh! I didn’t know what to do, the store was packed with families with their dogs and mine didn’t even have a name I couldn’t even call her. If I tried to approach her she would probably run the other direction. I stood at the doorway and watched her run frantically thru the aisles,then she stopped, she didn’t know where she was, she only knew me and she came back. Whew!
My company requires a $500.00 non-refundable pet deposit to have a dog on the truck plus proof of vaccinations so this was turning into a huge expense for a free dog.
I had spent $150.00 for pet supplies and I found a shot clinic at a local tractor supply which was another $100 for the works, including a heartworm screen. I didn’t even have a name for her when they asked me to fill out the paperwork. Then it just came to me “Karma” because she always comes back!
I thought she would be good to go with her shots all up to date but the doctor, who was an old cowboy, took me by his truck and said her heartworm test is positive. I never had a dog with heartworms before. I didn’t know much about it but I knew it was bad.
I asked him how much it would cost and he said in the city, sometimes $1800.00 but out in the country I might find someone to do it for a few hundred. I wanted him to do it, he went to Auburn and had been a vet for 40 years but he said he didn’t have his practice anymore. He just did a little team roping and did a shot clinic now and again.
I didn’t know what to do; He said she might be okay for a month or so. I had to get back on the road. I stay out trucking for months at a time. I just couldn’t afford to pay that amount of money.
I remembered being a child and that helpless feeling when we could not afford to get my dog spayed or take her to the doctor when she got injured.
Every day, Karma was getting more comfortable on the truck and after a few days I took her out of the harness and let her wear her new collar and leash.
She was happy; I could see it and I took a picture of her on her first smile in the truck at me.
I still kept an eye on her but one day I slacked off. I met my Twitter friend @EmailOKC for a chat at a TA Travel Center in Georgia and while we were standing in the grass gossiping, Karma slipped out of her new collar and started trotting away!
Not again! , I told my friend if we chased her she would run more so we slowly followed her. She went deeper into the parking lot. Then I lost sight of her completely. I was distraught, I thought she was gone. I walked around the entire building and saw nothing. As I started to head back to the truck which was way in the back I saw the guys in the garage all looking at something.
When they saw me they said “Are you looking for a white dog?” then they pointed toward my truck way back three rows. They said she trotted through the mechanics bay and toward that direction. My friend was following her but when he got close she ran again.
When I saw him, he told me she had found her way back to my truck out of all the other trucks. I knew she was looking for me. He pointed to the direction she went which was exactly the spot where she slipped out of her collar.
When I saw her, I said “Karma” and she smiled and came running to me! She knew her name and she knew me!
Since then she has come to trust me and I can trust her off her leash. Each morning when I walk into the restroom I tie her up outside and she patiently waits for me.
Her coughing began to increase rapidly and that was when I decided I need to make a decision. I made some phone calls and arranged for 10 days off to take her to have heartworm treatment.
We raised about $350.00 of the $550.00 it cost to get the injections.
Now Karma has to have 9 weeks of limited activity because her body needs to absorb the dead worms slowly. She cannot be permitted to run around and get excited.
Karma’s illness introduced me to another whole new group of people on Twitter and that’s another chapter in my tale that I hope to have time to write about very soon.
For now though I wanted to tell you the story about how Karma always comes back.
Karma is in the Hospital
Karma is having a followup for her Heartworm Treatment
We are in the 4th week of her Heartworm Treatment.
Finding a Vet while we are on the road is tricky.
I don’t always have the time to stop & find a vet & then I have to consider parking the truck.
Thankfully, today I have a bit of time in-between loads & I saw a animal hospital on my way to my delivery.
I was able to bob-tail & get a walk-in.
Also, with help from @HOTLabRescue who called ahead and arranged for Karma to be seen.
I’ll keep you posted.
August 1, 2009
Karma’s Health Update:
I wanted to take a moment to thank everybody who has helped me pay for Karma’s medical treatments.
I have been so touched by your kindness. There have been so many people who have written us and those who have reached out to help us. I am so grateful.
Initially, when Donna Smith put out the donation link I was uncomfortable with it but deeply touched. I was stunned that people began donating. At the time prior to taking Karma to the hospital I received about $250.00 from various thoughtful people from Twitter.
Recent unexpected donations have reimbursed me for what I have spent to cover her treatments and boarding in full for the heartworms and boarding. Today I can say I am at the “even- steven” mark.
I want to especially thank @Swedegis of @SavingLabs who painted a portrait of Karma that she sent to us and used that paiting to create note cards available for purchase with the proceeds going to a Banfield Pet Policy for Karma so we can have Vet Care while we are out on the road.
I’m still trying to get her in for the spay and her final follow-up for the heartworms, she is still coughing and sometimes choking but in very high spirits with so much more life than when I first got her.
I am trying to schedule for all my medical needs and Karmas Heartworm follow-up when we are in Dallas in August for the “Great American Truck Show” which is August 20-22 , 2009 . I am hoping I can also get her spayed at that time but trying to get enough time off is a problem right now.
Karma will be attending the convention as the Official Mascott of the new iPhone Trucker Application for “Ask the Trucker” so if you are in the Dallas area, please stop by to meet us with Donna Smith @Max4Health who was so kind to start the donation link for us.
Karma’s popularity on Twitter has spurred some “Copy Dogs” it seems, one called @LittleRoadDog and another creation from ATA and WIT to be a future reality show for Animal Planet where a female Trucker adopts a specific rescue dog. Make no mistake though folks, our message is FOR REAL!
I want to show my gratitude to my friends on Twitter & utilize Karmas Twitter tag further by suggesting another way you can help other animals in distress.
Twitter has a number of animal organizations who are in need of assistance and you can help.
Your donations, time and “RT’s” (ReTweets) are reaching others who these animals need to survive.
This experience has introduced me to the value of “ReTweeting” to help charitable causes.
Because of the economy a growing number of abused and abandoned pets need our help.
They are silent sufferers. They need us to speak for them.
Please give these folks a follow on Twitter who have dedicated their time to help animals.
Donate what you can OR “ReTweet” into YOUR Twittersphere to help their worthwhile efforts.
The lady who I met in the parking lot over 2 years ago when I had to surrender my beloved Henry & Mary Jane in the Las Vegas Desert is now on Twitter and is working hard to help animals who are being left in great numbers as foreclosures rise in Nevada. Please give “Gina” a follow at @NVoters4Animals she is still learning Twitter. She is overwhelmed in the Las Vegas Valley with pet rescue that recieves little funding.
Check out these folks out on Twitter who need your “Retweets” and/or Donations also for Pet Relocation efforts into no-kill facilities or states and loving new homes.
There are so many more….
AUGUST 16, 2009
What about the Rottweiler “Pirty Girl’?
Many of you have been sending me “DM’s” about “Pirty Girl” the Rottweiler who came stumbling up on the driveway of my truck terminal in Hutchins Texas early this month.
It was a new female student driver named “Anita” who fed “Pirty Girl” that day and wanted to keep her but she could not. Unfortunately, Anita is about to embark on her 6 months of hellish “student team driving” which I wrote about in “A Day in the Life of a Lady Trucker” so she did not have the option to have a dog on her truck at this point in time.
Another driver wanted to take her to his home in Florida but “Pirty Girl” was so infested with fleas he couldn’t put her on the truck. Also, he had only 2 hours to do his laundry at the terminal and then he had to get “Rolling”, the load MUST be delivered on time.
I too had to get “rolling” so despite my “tweeting” and the enormous outpouring of concern, I ended up having to call the local city shelter which does euthanize dogs.
They advised me that they had just euthanized all the dogs they had the previous Friday so the shelter was empty. “Pirty Girl’, they said had about a maximum of two weeks before they would become full and she would be put to sleep, unless she was adopted.
Karma’s special friend “The Guard” came to work later that afternoon and I told him about the dog. He is the guy from her story who had initially wanted to take ‘Karma” but could never quite catch her. Now that she is tame, she loves to run to him when we come to our Texas terminal.
Sometimes I let her sit out with him like old times at the guard shack and he drops her by the Truck at his shift end.
He has a home with 2 acres but he works over 50 hours a week at his job which pays just over the minimum to make ends meet for his family. They are loving people but have little funds for a Dog this size. Already $100.00 was given to get “Pirty Girl” out of the shelter and help pay for her Vaccinations, plus gas to drive the 50 miles from their house to the shelter.
Neither of us is in any financial shape but he and his wife have room and lots of love. So now “Pirty Girl” has a home and her name is “Jazz”
She has been seen by the Vet below:
Dr. David Snyder DVM
310 S. Virginia St. Terrell, TX 75160
And her New Family : Randy & Joyce Greenwalt emailed to tell me she is sleeping a lot, she might also have heartworms according to the vet but were given 2 free doses of medicine for now. She also has some “matter” in her eyes.
The Greenwalt’s can use any help to pay vet bills to get “Jazz” healthy again. Something else that would be great to help them is to donate Dog Food for this big girl.
They do not have a phone right now because they are cutting corners but take excellent care of their home and pets.
They did get on Twitter as @JazzGreenwalt but they do not know how to use it. I have only their Email and Mailing address if anyone wants to send a Gift Card for Food or something for “Jazz”
Remember, there are tons of unwanted Dogs and Cats right now especially with people losing their homes.
Please Spay and Neuter so strays aren’t wandering and creating more unwanted animals.
Even if you can’t take an animal in yourself, you can help someone who needs food and medicine to properly care for the animal they have.
Of course, on Twitter there are tons of shelters that always need your support which I’ve mentioned before.
In my little town where I stay when I am off the truck a shelter was open just the other day to 73 unwanted, homeless dogs. My dear friend @DaisyMaster offered to take cleaning supplies down to help them because funding is just so tight right now it takes everybody to help out just a little bit.
Educate your Children about Animal Welfare; these sweet Dogs and Cats should not have to suffer when they give us so much unconditional love.
Desiree & Karma