This Is The Triumphant Story Of Little Jonah … Grab A Kleenex.
A shelter in southern Arizona called Milagro and said this poor little fellow had been dumped by his owners after a lifetime of horrible neglect. Mac and I made the 5-hour drive to the shelter to rescue him. We were not at all prepared for what we saw. The shelter called him Kit and Kit was truly at death’s door – just skin and bones, and barely any sign of life or even a desire to go on.
The pads of his little feet were burned away and the fur on his little bottom was also burned away, probably from spending his days sitting outside, unprotected, on concrete scorched by the Arizona sun. His eyes were so dry and scarred from years of neglect that he was blind, and he couldn’t even blink. The ligaments in both of his rear legs were torn so he couldn’t walk or stand – he could only lie there. His poor little body was covered in big open sores from mange that was never treated. The owners had soaked him in motor oil because they thought it would kill the mange, so his whole body was toxic – unbelievable! What little fur he had left was so tangled and matted that it had to be carefully shaved away, and underneath we found a dirty old collar that had become tangled around one of his front legs and dislocated it at the shoulder. His toenails were so overgrown that they had curled around and grown right into the flesh of his feet.
Dear God in Heaven, any of these things by itself would have been torture enough, but Kit had endured all of them at once … for years on end! Poor little Kit had suffered all he could and had finally given up … just given up on life. And then the final hurtful insult … dumped at the shelter and forgotten.
The anger I felt was immense. I had to fight really hard to stay focused on Kit and what I could do to help him. The veterinarian at the shelter tried to discourage us from taking Kit … she said he probably had only two weeks at best to live, and it would be more humane to euthanize him. I remember responding “Then we’ve got two weeks to try to make up for his past and all the suffering that he never deserved.” We paid the $75.00 adoption fee and started the long drive back to Phoenix.
It was a long and quiet drive … we both were terribly troubled that someone could allow such horrible suffering on this poor little fellow. Mac held Kit in his arms while I drove. He sat just staring down at the broken little body in his lap. After a really long silence, Mac looked up at me and said “You just paid $75.00 for a dead dog.” At that moment, I figured Mac was probably right. But all I could say was “By God, he’s going to know his life matters to someone. If he’s really going to die this week, at least it’s going to be in the arms of someone who cares.” I had no idea if we could make any difference for Kit at this point … but I knew we needed to try.
I named him Jonah … after Jonah in the Old Testament who was swallowed by the whale, then miraculously saved … against all odds. And so began Jonah’s new life. The next few weeks were pretty care-intensive. Jonah was a little trooper as he underwent treatments by his veterinarian, ophthalmologist, orthopedic surgeon, dermatologist, and groomers. He had antibiotic injections, poking and prodding, xrays, ultra-sounds, and on and on. After 3 to 4 months of aggressive non-surgical treatment on Jonah’s eyes, the eye specialist was able to restore most of his vision. Jonah could see his world again. He looked up at me and wiggled his butt, and I cried like a baby. Jonah was finding happiness again.
We fed him a very good diet and he started gaining weight right away, and his fur started to grow back in, all lush and shiny. It was so awesome to see, and he was even looking like a show dog! A very generous donor offered to pay for the surgery to rebuild Jonah’s rear legs. So once we got him stabilized and gaining some strength, he had the surgery. It was a huge success! Then, after 10 days of post-surgical care, it was time to see if Jonah could walk again. My heart still races when I remember how he took a few wobbly steps, and then, totally unexpectedly, began to run! And he ran every day after that … just like Forrest Gump.
Sweet Jonah lived almost two years after being pulled from the shelter that day. Two years of pure joy. Of course, Jonah is our most triumphant success story so far. No other senior that we’ve taken in has been in such horrific condition. But many of them need some level of rehabilitation in order to enjoy any comfort and peace. And that’s why Milagro exists ~ to make up for whatever the past was for these little angels, and to let them know that their lives do matter. Jonah was 17 years old when he crossed his Rainbow Bridge.
So … just in case you still think those pathetic-looking old cats and dogs at the shelter are at death’s door and not worth saving … Think Again.
Here’s to the Power of Life and Love ~