The Journey of Phillip, the Forgotten, to Phillip, the Fabulous, in 30 Days Fifth in a Series
December 21, 2015
Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name!
We woke with a start to the sound of the doorbell announcing our anticipated friend. “Ding Dong!”
Gracie Bird, the African Grey Parrot, repeated the sound of the doorbell insistently in her identical parrot mimic making certain we knew someone was at the door. “Ding Dong! Ding Dong!” Gracie Bird went on and on.
The dogs came to alert attention from their various posts in the night. Jeff Smith, the English Setter mix, jumped over Paul from his station at the base of the bed and sped out the bedroom door with such force that the floor mat next to the bed lay in a crumpled heap. Bone-it-a, the big Pyrenes mix, hopped up from her spot in front of the box fan to add some bass notes to Jeff Smith’s high pitched barking as tufts of white fluff trailed after her in the fanned air. Loki, the small Pyrenes mix, sprang from the kitchen to the window next to the door throwing his head back with a heartfelt howl. “Stan the Man” rushed from the wooden floor that blended perfectly with the color of his coat to the upstairs deck door. With purposeful intent, he pushed on the handle until he unlocked the door and slid it open. Running down the deck stairs into the fenced back yard, he circled around to the side of the house to add his menacing bark from a different location. And finally, there on my one and only presentable chair, was Cindy Lou, the elderly Bassett, who slept through it all.
The dogs led the way as Paul and I rushed down the stairs behind them. Opening the front door a crack, Paul told Karen to hang on while we got the pack into the back yard. I was already on the job having flung the kitchen door open and tossing each dog a treat to tempt them from their perceived bark duty to the fenced yard to join Stanley. “All Clear!” I shouted in Paul’s direction as he opened the door to meet our guest, but not before all the dogs were headed back into the house from the still open upstairs deck door. As we heard the thunder of the herd head toward the den, we gave each other a knowing look and in unison said,” Stan the Man!” He could open doors, but never seemed to remember to close the doors behind him. Paul rushed out the open front door and shut it four nano seconds before the gang reached him. Heaven help anyone brave enough to ring our doorbell!
Even though everyone was excited to meet Phillip, Paul wanted to ensure his comfortable acceptance into our canine community. Paul proceeded with the “Meet and Greet” protocol practiced to near perfection with many shelter animals.
Paul started walking Phillip at the far end of the pasture. Our troop was showing a great deal of interest in the newcomer as they watched from inside the fence. I leashed up Jeff Smith who is the most accepting of our dogs. Everyone observed as Jeff Smith and I walked around the pasture coming closer to Phillip until we saw the tail wag of friendship. The pack was looking to Jeff Smith for direction. This process was repeated with each dog until we felt comfortable enough to let Phillip play with his new friends in the fenced yard. And play he did…with all the gusto of a healthy, fully socialized dog that had been deprived of so much in his short life. Our dogs did not seem to notice the putrid smell of dead mange ridden flesh or shun him for his appearance. They treated Phillip like just another “Joe” and soon the yard was full of the happy sounds of play.
Back in the house, I looked over the instructions from the vet and the medical records. “Paul, have you seen this!” I said with urgency. “Mange is not the only thing wrong with him. He tested positive for heart worms and has a heart murmur!”
“You don’t know the half of it, Ellen,” Paul said. “Karen told me this morning that he had been thrown out the window of a car and left on the side of the road. It’s a wonder he was found alive.”
We looked at Phillip from the window chasing “Stan the Man.” “He’s skinny,” Paul pointed out. “I’ve seen worse,” I replied. “He has no hair and is covered with sores. He must be miserable,” Paul continued. “Our Jeff Smith had even less hair and was near death… remember? Phillip doesn’t look so bad in comparison,” I countered.
“Ellen, we are in for the challenge of our lives getting Phillip through the physical and emotional scars he is carrying. Are we up for this?” Paul asked.
Phillip came over to the door looking inside for us. We went outside and began stroking his sticky waxy skin barely noticing the odor that his body emitted. We were caught up in his eyes. He leaned into us relishing the touch. There was something in those eyes… actually behind them that shone brightly enough for us both to see. It was the soul of a dog that had not given up on life and wanted a chance to live. “Yes Paul, we are up for this,” I said looking down at the dog. “He has good eyes!”