Wen my son and I first moved back to Ohio from Colorado a few years ago....we moved in with my grandma until we could find a place of our own. She has neighbors next door beside her house who have a couple of dogs and cats...but their one dog Joe has always been put outside by himself in a pen behind their garage. His name is Joe....
Joe has lived through all sorts of conditions....rain, sleet, snow, extreme sun and heat....is usually by himself all day long...and has no interaction with anyone or anything except perhaps the few brief moments his owners spend when they drop off food or water in his bowls. No one from that house seems to play with him or spend time with him...take him out of the pen....care for him properly...nothing.
My son and I fell in love with Joe....even after all the neglect he was such a loving dog...always wagging his tail and so excited to see us...not a young dog but still so playful...and seemingly happy to always see us coming or going. We always made sure to go over and pet him...give him treats...throw a ball to him for a bit...etc.
I soon realized though just how bad Joe had it. His pen was mostly dirt...and his own urine and poop. While not chained...he was in a pen of filth. He had a dog house that was too small that sat over a huge hole he had dug in the dirt....which he probably dug to give himself more room to fit in the house because as I said..the doghouse was too small for his body. I think Joe has only tried escaping once....and they got him back...and he was stuck back in the pen again.
We soon could tell no one came to ever clean the pen....never clean up the poop...never put fresh sod or straw down for him to walk on or lie down on. These same neighbors had another dog INSIDE their home they treated like a king...as well as 2 cats...but Joe remained outside in the filthy pen. This is how his pen would look when it rained.....
I would find Joe out there in subzero temps....in that frigid water....freezing....his legs shaking and shivernig in the cold...because his back end would be covered with wet muddy/poopy water.....he would get sores on his legs from standing in the deep dirty water. I had to do something. I wished I could take him somehere else to live..but at that time I myself did not even have a place of my own to live.
I called the Humane Society...I complained...I sent pics in...movie clips in...of the conditions Joe lived in. I turned to 2. The Humane Society of Darke County sent someone out. She did not even get out of her car the first time. She apparently notified the owners they had to put straw down...make sure Joe always had fresh water and food...but otherwise...they could really do nothing...blah, blah, blah. I was stunned...not believing they could somehow think this was acceptable standards for a pet dog to be living in.
The conditions deteriorated...I called and emailed again to complain. Someone else came out again....the people put down a bit of straw ONE time.....never cleaning the poop and crap up before they even put the straw down. They also never came back to clean the dirty, poopy straw back out of the pen ...I soon discovered the only way the poop was ever cleaned out was by natural erosion from the rain and snow...no one ever came outside to talk to Joe or clean up his pen. He had to walk, sit, eat in his own feces and urine.
I was so disgusted..I continued to make complaints. Was finally told they were working with the neighbors to take care of the dog..that they had a statement from the vet that the dog was in good health...and he was getting fed....etc....there was nothing they could do. The owners did start to let Joe inside the garage sometimes after that in bad weather.
During the summer the weeds would get so thick in his pen...he could no longer even see out of the fence..or over it..or get air through it. My uncle went in and trimmed the weeds down for him numerous times...so air could pass through the pen...and Joe could see out of the fence again. The owners never said anything about this...never came out to address it themselves..nothing.
One day I was coming home from somewhere....back to my grandma's house...and I had gone over to Joe and was hugging and kissing him...and giving him a treat...when as I went to walk into my grandma's house....here came the neighbor lady coming around the corner to cuss me out and accuse me of being the one turning her in all the time for not taking care of their dog Joe. She started to tell me she would call the police on me if she ever caught me on her property again....I told her the alley was not her private property and I could be in the alley and talk to Joe anytime I wanted. I then asked her why she did not ever clean up the poop in his pen or put straw down for him...spend time with him....take better care of him..etc.
She looked incredulously at me and said as if I were some idiot, "It is only DOG POOP and it is on my property and if I want to clean it up I will and I don't have to if I don't want to!" I told her it was not healthy for Joe to be like that...walking around in his own poop and pee....eating nearby it..etc. I went in to all the things that had been bothering me...so of course she knew it must have been ME who had been calling and complaining about her treatment or lack thereof..of Joe.
After that my son and I were not supposed to go over to see Joe anymore....and I was afraid he would think we abandoned him...had forgotten him....so we would still sneak over to pet him and give him a quick kiss or treat.
BUT soon the neighbors out of spite ...decided to yank down the end section of fence between the alley where Joe could look across and see us...and us him...and they instead put up a BIG section piece of privacy fence.....so Joe would no longer be able to see us..but mostly so we could no longer see Joe..or the conditions in which he lived.
Of course this did not stop me...we could still squeeze in the corner gap and see him...talk to him...but not often....and we could still see the conditions he lived in...but it became very apparent to me Darke County Humane Society sucked as they were doing nothing to ensure Joe would get better living conditions.
This brings me to tonight. I have been thinking about Joe...every time we get rain or a lot of snow...extreme temps...etc...I think of Joe. I pray for Joe to be okay and safe and healthy. Tonight when I dropped my grandma off at her house after taking her with us on a family outing.....we got to see Joe. I did not get my camera out to take a picture of him. My son had yelled to me that he looked bad. I went over to take a peek in the crack of the fence....what I saw shocked me.
I have always been afraid the extreme temps one day would probably kill Joe...I mean he is getting older and I doubt he can handle dampness and rain/snow too much all the time outdoors. I was always afraid he would die out there and no one in that household would even know it....he could be dead for days and I doubt they would know it....
But tonight...here came Joe....looking like a dog zombie. In less than 2 years he has aged...looking like a ghost of the dog he had been not even a year ago.....his back end was full of wet, muddy water...and his hairs were all frozen and matted down..his tail did not ever come up to wag....and he was cold...shivering...looking like he was trying to get into the garage but they must have had it blocked off. Anyway here he came over to us...but his eyes looked funny.....he did not perk up his ears...and he acted like he could not see us at all..or only parts of us..maybe shadows...I think he may have cataracts...but in all honesty his eyes looked like a zombie dog...like his spirit has finally just been so broken ...that it had left the dog body and gone somewhere else entirely. He did not seem to know who we were...and yet sort of acted like he knew he should know who we were. He tried to sniff our fingers we stuck down in his pen...but then backed away and not sure....almost acted like he wanted to take a nip at us. He smelled a lot....trying to remember....but it was so pitiful....
Now I feel worse than ever. All my efforts have done nothing for this dog. His pen looks the same now as it did in the pics above...no straw down...mud and poop everywhere...he is all wet,muddy, poopy and shivering in 30 degree temps....outside....and now he is older...cannot get around well..and appears to be blind...and broken. I almost feel like maybe he thinks his last hope...us...abandoned him and he just finally gave up.....and now he has escalated to this condition...in a very short, fast period of time.
I want to call and complain to someone to do something. I want to take Joe away from the pen to live with me....but now I think he is afraid...cannot see well...and may be bitter and if not able to see well..nippy. He deserves so much more than the life he has known his entire life....which is one of isolation....and deprivation...and neglect. And yet through all this..he had always continued to be such a loving, sweet dog.
Some say his living conditions meet the conditions of LIVESTOCK standards for the state..so there is nothing that can be done....I think something has to change...this cannot possibly be considered an acceptable STANDARD for anything living...dog or other livestock. Maybe that is where the distinction needs to begin. This is someone's pet dog....and they are treating it more like livestock....and while it would not be a good life even for livestock....I definitely do not see how anyone could possibly think it is acceptable standards for a pet dog.
The Joe I know is no longer in that dog's body...or mind...or eyes...or spirit. I feel so horrible about this all. If I had kept my mouth shut...at least the fence would not be there and he could have continued to see outside....interact with us...etc.....and maybe his spirit would be better today than it is now.
I still pray for Joe....I pray for him knowing it will not do any good....not at this point....unless he can be removed and have cataracts removed from his eyes if that is what is wrong with him...and I am not sure about his mood anymore..if he can be or is even stable. This story is a sad one ...with a very unlikely happy ending.
I love Joe...I feel so bad for Joe...and I feel like I have really let Joe down. I Hope he can forgive me. I don't know what else I can do....I have called...emailed....and turned to local television stations complaining. I have contacted DOGS DESERVE BETTER...I got no response from the TV station or Dogs Deserve Better...I get a run around game from the Humane Society...they do nothing....very little...warn the people...fine them perhaps...and the neighbors only do the least amount possible...which is so very little...since as I saw again today...no straw is down in Joe's pen again....the conditions are the same.
It has been 5 years now since I have been back to Ohio....5 years since I have known Joe up close and personal....and in the last 12 months or so...he has aged 100 years. It is depressing and makes me sick. I am thankful that karma will get that lady/owner good one day. What goes around comes around..you do reap what you sow...and one day that lady may need people or a safe place....not isolation and deprivation..and that is exactly what she will get. Joe will be smiling and happy again on that day...or at least I will. I know that sounds bad...but I do find comfort knowing she will get hers one day. She told me that day she confronted me how much they LOVED Joe. I told her she had NO idea what love was....that was no way to love an animal.....no way to love anything. Not sticking them in a pen all by themselves all the time...no interaction...no proper care....never cleaning up their poop...etc. It went in one of her ears and through her hollow head back out the other side.
I have a movie clip of Joe...standing in this muddy, poopy water shivering with sores on his legs..I also sent that to the Humane Society...nothing....nothing done.
SO I end this for now..with no updated pic of Joe. It was depressing. His eyes and gaze to me reminded me of that movie that time called the Dark Crystal..when the life force is sucked out of that one main character....that is how Joe looked...even without a photo it is an image I will never forget....