Monday, December 24, 2012

Sheba the Christmas Shepherd

I used to clean my neighbors home.  I was new to the area and wanted something to do outside of my own home.  My neighbor, a beautiful woman, worked very hard at her job and had little time for cleaning.  She had a cleaning lady although one day was talking about the areas she wished could be improved.  I offered to clean her home.  I really liked it, as I would walk over in my slippers, unlock her door, put on my IPOD to some rock-n-roll and just clean.  To me, it was like I was getting paid for a fun workout!

One day, in the winter, I was jamming away, dancing around and cleaning when it was time to clean the exterior of her sliding glass doors.  I went outside.  It was a cold, cold day, but sunny.  I wondered if the Windex would freeze right when it was sprayed on the window.  I had taken off my IPOD and I heard a sad wailing.  I could tell it was an animal and it sounded hurt.  The sound seemed to come from the river. 

Each winter, when the temperatures drop, the top of the river freezes over.  The water still flows beneath the river, although the top forms an icy crust.  I walked across her back yard and stared.  Sure enough there was an animal walking and crying in the center of the river.  I went down to the dock and started making kissing sounds, calling to the animal.  The animal started walking toward the dock.  Once the animal was about 30 feet from the dock, I could tell it was some sort of dog.  But, it looked strange.  In the distance I could see it's face did not look normal, and it must have been just a pup.  I kept calling and calling but the animal seemed frightened and stayed on the ice.  I went inside and called animal control. 

A few minutes later a Sheriff arrived, as in our small town, animal control is the Sheriff.  He came in and walked out onto the porch with me.  I explained the situation and we caught sight of the pup whimpering and wailing walking along the center of the river.  It was a scary situation, because the ice was not solid and there were little melting puddles within the ice that was very thin.  The animal could have fallen through and I was beside myself.  The Sheriff indicated that there was nothing that could be done, as the dog started running up the center of the river and it was too dangerous.  No human would consider doing such a foolish thing, going out onto the ice, they would surely fall through.  I thanked the Sheriff as he left and continued to clean, the whole time listening for the poor pup.

At the end of my shift, I poked my head out of her sliding glass door, to hear another neighbor calling to it.  I walked down to the dock again, this time to see a neighbor downstream, kneeling at his dock holding out a hot-dog.  The pup was back and crying on the ice, walking slowly in but  stopping about 20 feet away from the dock.  Then it started running up towards my direction and ran past me on the ice.  This time, I had a chance to see it closer and realized it was a German Shepherd puppy.  It's eyes where white, because it was blind.  A blind dog, stranded on the ice.  My heart just tugged, but still there seemed nothing we could do.  I went back to my house.

For two days all of us who lived on the river, listened to the poor baby crying on the ice.  We all talked on the phone, we all left food out on the docks, we all called to it.  It seemed like a helpless situation, and it caused us much anxiety to hear the wailing in the middle of the night, knowing this pup was on its second day there, with no food and bone chilling temperatures.

My hubby had been on the road for work.  But, he spent time on the phone with me as I told him about this dog and how heartbreaking the cries in the night were.  On Christmas Eve, my husband was due back home.  Once he arrived, he asked have I heard any news on the dog?  I shook my head 'no' as the last time I heard it, was the night before.  I was sure the dog had perished.  Just as I said this, we both heard a wail.  I jumped up and said that is the dog!  Next thing I know, my hubby was out the back door.  I ran to the porch after him.  Yelling for him not to do anything crazy and to be careful.  He disappeared through the archway which lead to the river.  I stayed on the porch completely frightened for him.  Time began to pass and I heard nothing.  Not my hubby or the dog was making a sound.  When suddenly, in the darkness of the sunset, my husband's silhouette appeared beneath the archway, with a bundle in his arms.  My heart leapt!  He carried into the house the dog who now had now been on the ice for three days. 

The dog, we called her Sheba, was a puppy of 6 months.  She was completely blind.  Around her neck was a nylon cord that had been broken or chewed.  Her nose was hot and she was barely hanging onto life.  We fed her milk and water through a dropper.  We kept her warm.  We took care of her until a vet was willing to see her a couple days later.  They put her on an IV and was not sure if she would make it.  She had an infection from the cold temperatures.  But, Sheba pulled through within the week.  We knew we couldn't keep her there on the river, so we were going to take her to an animal sanctuary in another state.  Before we had the chance, the vet found a wonderful home for her up in the hills.  A home where they raised German Shepherds, with acres for them to run, all fenced off.  It was like a dream.  On every Christmas Eve, I think about Sheba, and of course my hero, my hubby.

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