Your dog's new life in Chicago (Nov, 2005)

Friday, November 25, 2005

We live in Chicago and adopted a wonderful dog through a local pet shelter in late September.

We weren't necessarily looking for a rescued pooch from the hurricane, but it just so happens that the sweet eyes staring up at us from the cage were those of a dog who had been found in the New Orleans area.

Mardi is the name we gave her to always remind us of where she came from. To us, she's a hero. What did she endure in the weeks prior to her arrival here?

She lost a person or family who loved and cared for her. How did she survive, physically and emotionally, in the weeks after she lost her first family

She had both a cough and sinus congestion for the first month, but that has now cleared up, and she's as frisky and loving as anyone could hope for -- and remarkably focused on the neighborhood squirrels.

When we take her to the beach (yes, Chicago has beaches) she shows no fear of the cold water and loves to play with the other dogs there. She saw snow flurries and was hilarious in attacking them.

My heart goes out to the person or people who previously lived with the love of this dog. I hope they know she's alive and happy, even if sometimes her eyes seem to focus on a distant place and time.

Her unabashed affection, not to mention house training, shows us her owners were loving people who took good care of this dog before Katrina blew in and tore them from each other.

In their honor and for her sake, we'll always give Mardi the best possible care.

Russ Klettke

(highlighting mine)

Dear Russ,

I just came across your letter-to-the-editor or whatever it is that I saved from last November, wanting to reply then but being too busy at the time. Your comments take on a whole new dimension now, a year+ since the Big K.

It is refreshing to see that you referred to your Katrina dog's owners as loving people who took good care of her before Katrina tore them from each other. Excuse me, but what in the world were you thinking when you wrote that? Were you told by the shelter that the dog was owner surrendered? And if so, did you actually believe that?

What did you think that distant look in her eyes meant?

Would it be your opinion that having a gun pointed at you while being ordered to get on a helicopter without your dog is what is meant by owner surrender? Being forced to leave her on the ground - the dog you stayed behind to protect; the dog that means the world to you; the dog that has been part of your family for 2 or 6 or 10 years. This is owner surrender?

Before Katrina this is what owner surrender meant: walking into an animal shelter with a dog or cat that was once a pet but is no longer needed or wanted, handed over with a pathetic excuse like "I'm moving and I can't have pets in my new condo/ apartment/cell; or "My new girlfriend/boyfriend doesn't like cats/dogs" or "I just didn't know he would get so big."

Being forcibly separated from beloved pets following the worst natural disaster to ever hit this country does not constitute owner surrender.

So please consider doing the right thing and maybe even racking up some karma points in the process. Post the dog's photo so we can see if she is one that has been searched for, one whose disappearance has caused her owners sleepless nights, nightmares and unimaginable guilt and remorse; one whose owner has spent the better part of the past year searching and praying for her return.

Anita Wollison


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