It’s hard to imagine Kari’s dog in his other life.
He smiles with ease and, since he’s a youngster, is rather mischievous. No toy is safe around his eager mouth. And tug-of-war … forget about it. If it’s in your hand, he wants to grab it and wrestle it away.
Based on his first life, you might expect him to be wary. Fearful and shrinking away from people. But he approaches any stranger with that tail swishing the air like he’s fighting off a mad rush of dive bombing flies. He’s up and pawing at your chest the moment you get close and he wants all the love – quickly mind you – before he bounces off in another direction.
This new life, his life with Kari, is exactly what he needed. And it’s exactly what he deserves.
Tears come quickly these days. It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for Kari. At least, she says, her father is nearby and her relationship with him helps.
But now, she has a new best friend. The dog with the big smile and happy tail. How she got him, though, is heartbreaking.
Not so long ago, as she was going about her daily life, Kari saw something that still brings fresh tears streaming down her face. She was driving through the city – she remembers the exact location – and saw several adults beating and kicking a dog. The cries, she said, still haunt her.
“How someone could hear that and not feel the pain of it,” she says, trailing off as more tears cross her cheeks.
Her words turn to a whisper. You get the impression Kari is always gentle and soft spoken but now even more so. “All animals deserve love and kindness,” she says, barely audible.
If you thought for a moment that this reveals Kari to be anything but strong, you’d be wrong, however. Underneath, where it counts – and when it counts – she’s a hero. Super strong and not afraid.
Take, for instance, the day she rescued her new best friend. As several people were beating and kicking him, she squealed to a stop, jumped out of her car and without hesitation, screamed “I’m taking that dog.”
And she did.
Because there was no way she was giving him back, she decided to name him Ransom. The people who were abusing him didn’t want him anyway, they told her.
Side note: While we absolutely will go out of our way to rescue and save animals – even taking a few risks ourselves – we don’t advocate citizens intervening in any situation like this. It puts you in very real danger. If you see someone hurting an animal, it’s best to call animal control and let them take care of it. They are trained to handle those situations and this also allows for legal recourse should it be needed.
After a few days, Kari decided she’d met her new best friend. That’s when she got a hold of us to get him vaccinated and neutered. I recall the day because our clinic staff thought this was a great story; the kind that reveals what we sometimes forget from this side of the fence.
That is, regardless of the bad parts of humanity that we see in animal welfare, there are far more people who are doing the right thing, saving animals and, as Kari’s situation demonstrates, putting themselves at risk to do so.
But as I met up with Alyx, our clinic supervisor, I could tell something wasn’t right. Alyx’s expression hit me with dread and I expected to hear awful news. It wasn’t great – Ransom tested positive for heartworm.
It’s unfortunate, too, not just in this situation but in all cases. That’s because heartworm is deadly if left untreated. And the problem with treatment is that it’s not in the budget for most people and it’s hard on the dog, too.
Three of us walked silently to Kari’s car, the weight of what Alyx was about to tell her pushing down on us. “I was scared,” Kari said. “With that many people, I knew something wasn’t good.”
When Alyx updated Kari, she broke down. It had been a long couple of years and here she was getting more bad news. At that point all we could do was let her know that we’d help in whatever way we could and promise to follow up.
Here recently Ransom had his first treatment at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. We partner with them on several projects, including doing some heartworm treatments for us. Though we don’t typically help pay for those – because there are just so many and they are expensive enough that it hinders our ability to extend our help to as many pets as we can – we do try to help out when and where we can. That’s especially true for situations that are unique o when the need is especially great, like this one.
Meanwhile, our vet team are working to develop a lower-cost treatment we can do here, much like the parvo program they developed last year.
As for now, Kari and Ransom still have their struggles. But they also have each other, and as Kari said when we saw her last, Ransom is someone she leans on every day to help her make it through. Thing is, he doesn’t seem to mind one bit. He just brings that smile and that goofy young dog energy to every interaction he has.
It’s like that ugly part of life never happened at all. All he has now is a love of life and a genuine bond with the human who saved him. And became his new best friend.
That’s the power of pets.