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December 2, 2022

Window on the World Column | The Journey Home

My friend from Salinas works for Monterey County and is a proverbial animal nut like me. She contacted me one day and told me that her husband had been working out on Metz Road and the residents there had told him about a stray dog they had seen consistently hanging out and looking for food and water. Doubting that either one of those things was provided, she asked me to go and check it out.

Sure enough, we saw the dog from a distance — she looked to be a Belgian Malinois — slim, shy, sleek, dark — and had she been out on her own for a while. We left her food, water and treats, knowing that she would find them. It was mid-summer, dry and hot. We would need to return daily to check she had what she needed to survive. Maybe she would trust us enough to come close and we would be able to rescue her.

We checked for pups around the locations of the abandoned barns — we found none — but every time we returned, we would catch sight of her, as if she was waiting for us, she was wanting us to rescue her from this terrible situation, but she didn’t know how. When I was going to be away for a night, I asked my friend and her husband to go and take care of her, which they did — this is a qualification for being a friend of mine, apparently.

I told my friend at County that the dog wouldn’t come close to us, so animal control set up a trap situation whereby she could be rescued and receive the care she needed. Every time I go through this, I find really strong feelings burning up inside me against the people who can just abandon an animal to fend for themselves and carry on with their lives. I struggle with accepting that there are people out there who have no conscience, no soul.

I coordinated with animal control and went out there for the trap. I never like to see that happen because the animal is always so afraid, and you want to make it better for them. They trapped her quickly; she was hungry and thirsty. I went over to her trap and put a towel on the crate to keep her a little cooler while we waited for animal control to return. She sipped water from a bottle through the cage, as if she knew and trusted me already. I talked softly to her and gave her some treats. I knew she was sweet already, although I didn’t know her at all.

County quickly ascertained that she was super pregnant and ready to deliver. They contacted CalPaws, a Malinois/Shepherd rescue up north, and those lovely folks flew a plane to Salinas, no less, to pick up Mama Moxie. There was a fabulous photo on their site of Mama on her first flight to a much better life. And I thought that would be that, but I couldn’t help following along her progress. She delivered eight or nine healthy babies and was doing so well in foster care. I was proud of our part in her salvation to an improved situation — who could ignore an animal in need — but still I followed her postings.

I sent a message to Michelle, her foster Mama, telling her I couldn’t stop thinking about her and I would like to give her a permanent home. Michelle noted that I had six dogs already and she would rather see Moxie in a setting where she would get more attention. If there’s a better dog Mum out there than me, I haven’t met her; but I accepted her recommendation and went about my business.

I told myself that I needed another dog like I needed a hole in the head; but Moxie had spoken to me through the bars of the trap. I had made sure she was well-fed and watered for days. That had to count for something, didn’t it? I needed to fight for her.

Once Mama Moxie’s pups were all weaned and homed, the posting went up that Mama was looking for her forever home. Oh heck, better throw my hat into the ring for that divine opportunity. I completed the application and held my breath.

“Did you put an app in for Moxie?” her foster mama asked me. I replied in the affirmative and told her we would be able to come and pick her up after the weekend if there were no other more impressive adopters stepping forward, and if they would, ultimately, let us be her forever family. I threw the door open to the Fates and what might come along in their wake. I knew that CalPaws were a class-act rescue and wouldn’t allow her to go to any old body.

And so it came to pass that our application was accepted, and we made a date to go and pick her up from her foster home near Sacramento and bring her back, almost to her old neighborhood; though she would never, ever again have to forage for food off Metz Road or be shooed away by uncaring neighbors.

She would be living here at Solace, a place where animals can recover from any nastiness they have received in the past from the world outside, a place where they can roam freely and be regularly fed wonderful food, receiving lots of love and attention and living out their days in peace and tranquility, as they should. This is what we will be offering Moxie, as we do all our rescues.

She will sleep inside with us, she will have a cozy bed, lots of toys and chews for her anxiety and she will learn that not all humans are bad — a journey started through the feeding and the trapping crate and then onwards to her foster Mum and back to me. She will no longer be a breeding machine, stuck in a crate, covered in fleas and with her teeth and hair worn away from boredom and anxiety.

It took quite the village of Animal Champions to rescue her, rescue her again and then rescue her all over again to bring her home. So many hands touched the soul of Moxie that she must already be brimming over with all the love she has received these past few months. She will likely take a while to get used to her new situation at Solace — that is normally the case, and we have all the time in the world to bring her to her potential peak of happiness.

With any new creature, I like to sit on the floor with them eye to eye and show them that I am not to be feared. They are safe with me and I with them. We are one and we are family. Welcome to Solace, Mama Moxie. Without being remotely arrogant, I just know that you will be very happy here.

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist
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