Ever since beginning the most amazing challenge of my life there have been days, even weeks that I thought that I was so tired and exhausted that I just couldn’t go on. It seems just then another day more difficult than before is placed before me and somehow I have always managed to tackle and overcome.

This week started on a Sunday morning. It is going to be a good week because it is starting with a home visit for one of our beautiful little Pit puppies that we took in after the tornadoes of April 27th and I was meeting another one of our adopters to finally get Bella, one of Mandy’s pups, headed to her home in Florida. Happy to get started, I load my trusty old “ride” and head south to just below Birmingham. It is a long trip, but I really don’t mind. I have always gone to great lengths to find that perfect home for our babies and these are perfect for Preston and Bella – now named Bailey.

Monday morning: I load my trusty old “ride” and I am off to the vet with 6 little Scotties. These are just the beginning of one the biggest rescues that PLA will ever do. Almost a year ago we were contacted by a gentleman that was in desperate need of help. His health was failing and his love for his pets had gotten out of control. But it wasn’t an easy rescue. When someone is considered in a “hoarding” situation, it is a mental sickness that causes the person to cling to these animals as their only possessions in the world. You cannot just go in and take the dogs. It is heartbreaking for both the dogs and the humans. The dogs were not being cared for properly and many need immediate vet care. But we had to be patient and in time, we won the battle. In the end, he did release all of his dogs to us for a total of 33. Sadly, from the first time that he contacted us, we do know that there were some that did not survive.

Tuesday: 4 tiny little puppies were brought in today and it was very apparent that one was extremely sick and needed urgent medical care. So I load my trusty old “ride” and rush her to the ER Clinic in Decatur. She is just the most adorable little baby and only 16 days old. As I am checking her in, I didn’t even thing to ask the person that brought her if she had a name. But when I watched her as they placed this tiny and frail little angel in the oxygen box, “my tiny little Tilley” was all I could think of. She only weighed 10 oz. the day she came to PLA. I stayed for several hours at the ER Clinic. Tilley is very sick. She has Aspiration Pneumonia. They are going to keep her there for the night and if she is doing better and is stable, she can be transferred to our regular vet tomorrow. So one last tearful look and I head for home.

Wednesday: Of all weeks I would have a scheduled doctor’s appointment! I really can’t miss this one so I load my trusty old “ride” and head to Huntsville. I have had a history of migraine headaches my entire life and just last year found a wonderful doctor that has helped me to control these demons. I am so worried about Tilley so I go early to my appointment in hopes to get in and out quickly.

Finally finished with my appointment and headed to Decatur to check on Tilley. The news was not as promising as I had hoped for. She was stable enough to transfer to my vet but still very ill. So back in my trusty old “ride” again and headed to the vet to check her in. I am feeling better now that she is there. I know they will give her the best of care and will do everything for her. I guess I am expecting a miracle. I have my hopes up that come 5:30pm they will tell me to pick her up and take her home and she is going to be all right. Well, 5:30pm comes and I get a phone call that sickens my heart. Tilley is not doing well and needs to return to the ER Clinic to remain under oxygen. So I load my trusty old “ride” and we head back to Decatur to the ER Clinic. Once again, I just find it so hard to leave her and I end up staying at the Clinic for several hours before returning home to collapse in bed at midnight.

Thursday: Today is surgery day for 5 precious Shih Tzu’s that were rescued from a breeder that was having financial problems. These beautiful dogs had become gravely neglected before coming to us. When PLA took them in they were severely matted, never vaccinated and all were unaltered. So I load my trusty old “ride” again and off to the vet we go. When this trip is over, all 5 will be altered, fully vetted and they turn out to be heartworm negative! But I am so anxious to get them there and unloaded so I can get to Decatur and check on Tilley. She is always on my mind, my sweet little angel. Finally in Decatur at the ER Clinic I find out that Tilley’s condition has not changed but I can check her out and take her back to my family vet for the day. So back in my trusty old “ride” we go and off to the vet. She stayed all day today without much change and sadly enough had to go back to the ER in Decatur again tonight. She just cannot breath without the oxygen. My poor tiny Tilley.

You may ask why I move my little angel back and forth, night and day. There are many reasons. First and foremost, ER Clinics are very costly and we are a non-profit rescue that operates only by donations. Secondly, they are there for emergency and should a true emergency come in, daily care has to take second place and I do understand that. Our vet clinic is wonderful and I have all the faith and trust in them. They understand that we are a rescue and have always tried to be fair when it come to expenses with us. But they cannot do overnight care and I do understand that, so Tilley has to go back to the ER at night.

Friday: I have to pick up the Shih Tzu’s from their surgeries, so I load my trusty old “ride” and I am off to the vet. It was a great trip because one of the pups’s found a forever home while she was there! Just like magic, one of the employees at the vet’s office fell in love with one of the little girl Shih Tzu’s. Don’t you just love happy endings like that? I really needed something to lighten me up because all my heart thinks about is my poor little Tilley. So l load my trusty old “ride” with my Shih Tzu’s and head back to the rescue. When everyone is settled in, I am off to Decatur to check on Tilley. Finally I get a tiny bit of good news. They think she may be showing a little bit of improvement. So, we load my trust old “ride” and off to the vet we go to check in for the day. At 5:30pm I return to pick her up and her condition seem fairly well. Maybe we are going to try our first night at home. Our hopes are up, so we load my trusty old “ride” and head for the house. But my sweet little Tilley is so frail and by 7:30pm her condition starts to fall and we have to make a mad rush to Decatur to the ER. This time, she is checked in for the weekend. I feel that it is best she stay a while.

Saturday: I got up early this morning and all could think about was Tilley. And of course, I load my trusty old “ride” and off to Decatur I go to check on her. She is so beautiful. It just breaks my heart to see her in that oxygen box. It just looks so cold and lonely. I just want to hold her but she can’t breathe when you take her out. And now I am starting to worry about one of her brothers. He wasn’t doing well when he came in and he condition is not improving. He is bigger than her so I had hoped he was much stronger. His name is Binkie. He is on medication for his Aspiration Pneumonia - I just pray the medication is working. Well, today is Adoption Event so I must go. Our Adoption Events are held every Saturday in Athens and I enjoy them. It gives you a chance to spend some quality time with the dogs that you take out that day. It always makes my heart feel good. And it was a good day. You get to meet new people and of course, brag about our wonderful dogs! When the event was over and we were back at the rescue, again, Tilley is heavy on my heart. So I load my trusty old “ride” and head to Decatur to see my sweet tiny little angel. But my heart is not happy when I get there. She does not want to eat for them. So as a last resort, we are going to have to tube feed her. She has to eat. Our hope is to support the body long enough for the medication to fight off the infection. Hang in there Tilley. I stay with her until 2am but I am so tired and I have to leave, goodnight sweet little angel.

Sunday: Today is a Big Day! This is a day that many of us at PLA will never forget. Today is the day that we got the Scottie and Westies. This is true animal rescue. This rescue involved 4 SUV’s, 8 volunteers and half a day. We had planned and prepared for this day for weeks. We are so excited, happy and sad, all at the same time. We were so glad to finally get these dogs the help that that needed but it was so sad to see the condition they were in. These dogs had never had human contact other than their one owner. They were scared and that was sad. They were terribly flea infested to the point that many had no hair and they were sick with low blood anemia. Your heart just ached for these beautiful dogs. Once we got them back to the rescue, our hard work began. These dogs had to be cleaned up. Cap Star pills to kill the fleas and bubble baths for everyone! Each dog is tagged for identification and any obvious medical notations are marked on the tags. When all our work is done, 26 dogs are safely rescued and tucked in to warm beds for the night. And now my thoughts turn back to Tilley and Binkie. After a quick shower, I went back to recheck Binkie before going to Decatur and found his condition was failing. His breathing had changed and appeared to be struggling. I knew I had to get him in quickly. So I loaded my trusty old “ride” and off to Decatur we flew! Binkie’s condition had gotten worse so he was admitted into the ER with Tilley. They looked to sweet together. It made my heart feel better to know that Tilley was no longer alone. They cuddled side by side in the oxygen box. With Binkie in there with Tilley, this was giving me hope. Maybe this would lift her spirit. Make her move around more, perk her up. Even the staff at the Clinic had high hopes. We were all pulling for Tilley and Binkie. But it is late, almost 1:30am and I am so tired. I have to say goodnight to my sweet angels and go home. With one last tearful look, I wrap my arms around the oxygen box. It is the closest hug I can give my babies. Sweet dreams angels. I love you.

I was raised in a small country home with a Christian background. I was always taught that God will only put before you what you can handle. I hate to say that sometimes I question that because what he puts before me often hurts. Monday morning my phone rings and it is the call you never want to receive. My tiny little Tilley has passed away. You fight so hard to only lose in the end. But I will try to find the lesson here. Look back for something missed, learn and always remember. They told me that they think Binkie will be alright and I can check him out. So I bring my two angel home, Binkie to heal and Tilley to pass on to the Rainbow Bridge. Little Binkie had a good night, he ate well, seemed alert and my heart felt good about him. But sadly the next morning my little Binkie had left us to go find Tilley at the Rainbow Bridge.

It all started on Sunday and I had set my mileage on my trusty old “ride” before I took off to Birmingham. It was 952 miles this week. Was it worth is? By all means yes. We rescued 5 precious Shih Tzu’s, 26 beautiful Scotties and Westies. They got medical care that saved their lives, found forever homes for wonderful dogs, and met great new people. And when I look back on the heartache of losing Tilley and Binkie and wonder why did God do that? I can say God blessed me with the days of knowing and sharing the time with two beautiful puppies I might have never known if I had not taken them. Thank you God for giving them to me if only for a short time… what a blessing.

God does not place all animals here for a lifetime; some are just here to put life in our time.


Cathy Oakley
Director Peace, Love and Animals

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