Joan Fremo, PyrAngel – I Want to Quit

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Joan wrote this in 2001. We lost her in 2003

I want to quit!
I spend hours and hours emailing about dogs. There may be 500 messages when I start—and at 4 AM, when I finally shut down the computer, there are still 500 emails to be read.

I want to quit!
Gosh, I haven’t the time left to email my friends. I can’t remember the last book I read, and I gave up my subscription to my local newspaper—I used to enjoy reading it, cover to cover, but now it often ends up in the bottom of the squirrel’s cage—unread.

I want to quit!
I’ve spent days emailing what seems like everyone—trying to find a foster home, help for a dog languishing in a shelter—but his time has run out, and the shelter has had to euthanize to make room for the next sad soul.

I want to quit!
I swear, I walk away from my computer to stretch my legs—let the dogs out—and come back to find another dog in desperate need. There are times I really dread checking my email. How will I find the funds, the help, to save yet another dog?

I want to quit!
I save one dog, and two more take its place. Now an owner who doesn’t want his dog—it won’t stay in his unfenced yard. An intact male wanders… This bitch got pregnant by a stray… This 3-month-old pup killed baby chicks… The dog got too big… This person’s moving and needs to give up his pet. I ask you, friends—what town, what city,what state doesn’t allow you to
own a pet?

I want to quit!
I just received another picture, another sad soul with tormented eyes that peer out of a malnourished body. I hear whimpering in my sleep,have nightmares for days…

I want to quit!
Many of the “Breed People” don’t seem to want to hear about these dogs. Breeders either don’t realize, or just don’t care, how many dogs of their breed are dying in shelters.

I want to quit!
I just got off the phone. “Are you Pyr Rescue? We want to adopt a male to breed to our female.” How many times do I have to explain? I have tried to explain about genetics, about health and pedigrees. I explain that rescue NEUTERS! I usually end up sobbing, as I explain about the vast numbers of animals dying in shelters across the country, as I describe the condition many of these animals are found in. I wonder if they really heard me…

I want to quit!
It is not like I don’t have enough rescues of my own to worry —but others have placed dogs improperly and aren’t there to advise the new owners.

I want to quit!
There ARE some unscrupulous rescues out there—hoarders, collectors,and folks who will short change the care of the animals to make a dollar. They save them all, regardless of temperament, putting fellow rescuers and adopters at risk, but not being truthful.

I want to quit!
I have trusted the wrong people— had faith and my heart broken…

I want to quit!
AND THEN…My dog, Magnus, lays his head in my lap, he comforts me with his gentle presence—and the thought of his cousins suffering stirs my heart.

I want to quit!
AND THEN…One of those 500 emails is from an adopter. They are thanking me for the most wonderful dog on earth—they cannot imagine life without their friend—their life is changed, and they are so grateful.

I want to quit!
AND THEN…One of my adopted Rescues has visited a nursing home. A patient that has spent the last few years unable to communicate, not connecting—lifts his hand to pat the huge head in his lap, softly speaks his first words in ages— to this gentle furchild.

I want to quit!
AND THEN…A Good Samaritan has found and vetted a lost baby, “I can’t keep him,but I’ll take care of him until you find his forever home.”

I want to quit!
AND THEN…”Jamie took his first steps holding on to our Pyr.” “Joan, you should see this dog nursing this hurt kitten!” “I was so sick, Joan, and he never left my side…”

I want to quit!
AND THEN…I get an email from a fellow rescuer, “Haven’t heard from you in awhile—you OK? You know I think of you…”

I want to quit!
AND THEN…A dozen rescuers step up to help, to transport, to pull, and to offer encouragement. I have friends I have never seen, but we share tears, joys, and everything in between. I am not alone. I am blest with family of the heart, my fellow Rescuers. Just days ago it was a friend who shared her wit and wisdom, whose late night email lifted my heart. Sometimes it is friends who only have time to forward you a smile. Often, it is my friends who forward me the notices of dogs in need.There are Rescuers who see a flailing transport and do everything they can do to find folks to pull it together for you. Rescuers who’ll overnight or foster your Dog while you seek transport. There are Rescuers not used to or comfortable with your breed, but who put aside their discomfort to help. There are Rescuers whose words play the music of our hearts. Foster homes that love your Rescue, and help to make them whole again—body and spirit. Foster homes that fit your baby in, though it may not be their breed. Rescuers whose talents and determination give us tools to help us. Rescuers we call on for help in a thousand ways, who answer us, who hear our pleas. Rescuers who are our family, our strength, our comrades in battle. I know I cannot save every Pyr in need. I know my efforts are a mere drop in a sea. I know that if I take on just one more—those I have will suffer.

I want to quit!
But I won’t. When I feel overwhelmed, I’ll stroke my Magnus’s head while reading my fellow Rescuers’ emails. I’ll cry with them, I’ll laugh with them— and they will help me find the strength to go on.

I want to quit!
But not today. There’s another email, another dog needing Rescue.

 

 

http://www.heroswaggintrain.com/pyrangel.htm

January 25th, 2003

Family, friends and many furkids said a sad farewell to Joan Fremo.

Thank you Joan, for your contribution to rescue and all the grateful animals you have helped along the way.

Joan was one of the great ‘characters’ of dog rescue. She was one of the most unselfish people that walked this earth. She was the Angel that rescued Great Pyrenees, made them well, gave them love, rehabilitated them and then gave them courage to go on — on, to forever homes to live out their lives in comfort. But many stayed.

Joan didn’t quit. She kept on keeping on. Joan had the respect of many and mentored more than a few. She would want us to keep this in mind when we feel the burnout coming, the strain of long hours of worry, the many trips to the vet, and the empty wallets we have all experienced. She would want us to keep this in mind when we are wondering where the next donation will come from, or how we can possibly help “just one more” dog.

Fur therapy

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I’ve gotten back to being more hands-on with the dogs the past couple of weeks.

I hadn’t been ignoring them, but I hadn’t been as relaxed and close with them, either.

I could blame it on the cold and wearing gloves and being all bundled up while they played in the snow, but that wasn’t it. I could claim fatigue or being too busy and a half a dozen other things – none of which would be accurate.

I realized as I was brushing dogs the other day that the last time I had done that calmly and peacefully was while I was trying to convince my Pyr that it was okay for her to quit struggling to take care of me. I spent what seemed like several lifetimes gently massaging her shoulders, running my hands through her thinning fur, drinking in the smell and the feel of her coat, absorbing every moment’s memory knowing that there would be no more moments to treasure with her.

I hadn’t realized how much that tactile exercise was intertwined with my grief.

My other dogs still got hugs and scratches and belly rubs – but it was different. I was holding back, afraid of diluting the memories, or maybe of moving on.

It’s almost spring, and bits of green are starting to struggle through the dirt and dead vegetation. I guess I am ready for renewal. too. Brushing the dogs out in the yard, sending fur flying all directions, getting back in the habit of those quiet massages.

Life happens.

A Fare-Thee-Well

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Yesterday evening I had to say good-bye to my 11 1/2 year-old Pyr, Faith.

faithfulShe helped more than a few dogs in her day, whether in transport or foster. Though she was the least likely to play of any of my dogs, it was to her that one special Berner boy made his first play bow, when we didn’t know at first whether we would ever be able to draw him out of his shell of fear.

Faith came to me from the local shelter, intended as a companion for my BARC Beauty Sophia. They quickly became fast friends, and they made sure that all other dogs coming to their house knew the rules. She was true to her breed, keeping me and our property safe from all manner of trucks, buses, birds and planes. We NEVER had a plane land in our driveway!

Age and years of property management caught up with her, she spent the past few years on monthly Adaquon shots and Salmon oil seemed to ease some of her cognitive issues, but a recent infection recurred and may have had an impact on her liver and gall bladder. X-rays indicated that her hips and knees were failing, making the option for gall bladder surgery more problematic.

She refused to tell me that it was time for her to go. To the end, she was trying to protect me at her own expense. But I told her that I would do what was right for her, and I know that was what I did.

Three of my dogs are fine, but my ASD/Pyr mix, who was her closest companion after we lost Sophia, is taking it hard. But I know he will help me keep my promise to Faith tonight that I would be fine. He’s sneakiy that way, making sure that I don’t have time to wallow. He will keep me grounded, Berner Hagar will keep me laughing and Duffy and Domino will make sure that I PAY ATTENTION!!!

Run and spin with abandon, dear Faith. You were greatly loved all eleven years I got to share with you, and I will carry you in my heart until we meet again.

States of Being

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Sometimes it seems that my dogs are not five separate organisms, but parts of one whole. When something is off balance with one part, the whole organism shifts.

I have been surprised the past couple of days, while my sweet Pyr is being treated at the vet’s office, by the behavior of my other dogs. Usually, if I get home later than normal, I am greeted with great enthusiasm and vocalization. I can feel the whole house bouncing and vibrating. But not this week.

This week, the dogs have made perfucntory barks and little else. They have made their way to the door and outside with fair haste, but not with the same drive. They know Faith is ill, they know their world is out of balance.

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I don’t know whether this time balance can be restored.

I know that with or without Faith, we will go on. We will find a new balance.

I wonder how long it will take for us to find enthusiasm and joy in that new balance.

If she comes through this illness, she will be a far more elderly, frail dog than she would ever have expected to be. Her dignity will be important to all of us. She will have to supervise someone else keeping the yard safe from buses, birds and planes.

Life changes. Organisms have an ebb and flow.

I feel so lucky to live within the aura of this organism.

With gratitude

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Watching a dog age gives us a sped-up version of watching people age – although dogs seem to accomplish it with far more grace.

My Pyr is now 11 years old. Her arthritis slows her down, she seems to have less sense of where her back feet are, her hair is thinning even as we carom toward winter. I have, at times, worried about her hearing and vision, yet she can spot a sparrow at 300 yards and hear a bus a half-mile away.  I should probably take it personally when she ignores me, but I won’t.

She has been with me ten and a half of her 11 years.  Found as a stray in a neighboring town, transferred when that town ran out of space. The local shelter know I was looking for another big dog and called me. I shouldn’t even have been home, but I was. The other families interested in her should have jumped at the opportunity, but they didn’t.

So she joined me and Sophia and watched over us both, disciplining new dogs as they arrived, teaching the fosters to be strong, the home dogs to be patient and true. She has long kept my property safe from all manner of trucks, busses, birds and planes. She warns away coyotes in the middle of the night, but she also knows that she is off duty the moment she enters her crate. She can relax and let someone else worry about keeping us all safe.

I hope she will be with me years more, but I don’t know whether that’s realistic. At very least, I want her to enjoy at least one more snow, bouncing like a puppy in the magical froth on the land. Snowfall has always filled her with joy and wonder. The other dogs may play in the snow, she becomes one with the snow. Almost literally. There have been times I have discovered a half-inch of ice and sleet buried in her undercoat, beneath the guard hair. She thought it was great until it started melting.

Whatever time I have left with her is a gift. I cherish our time together, worrying that she has come to need me more this past year after a decade of being fiercely independent, but grateful that she is with me each day. I know I can’t keep her forever, so I will make the most of the time that we have.

And I refuse to grieve too soon. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Today there are trucks that she must tell to keep moving on by, nothing for them here, just move along.

Each day is a treasure. My dogs know that, they have done a pretty good job of teaching me, too.

Persephone – Joan Fremo

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I never had the privilege of meeting Joan Fremo, though I recall one brief email exchange.  She was a remarkable dog rescuer, who touched many lives, both people and dogs. I had to search a long time to find a copy of this story, the related story of  A Thousand Miles to Freedom I fear may be lost forever. Joan saw some of the worst cruelty man could inflict on dogs, but she was always ready to make one more call, send one more email if it could help another dog.

I hope you have tissue handy.

Persephone has crossed the Bridge
© Joan C. Fremo

Sep 24, 2002

(Posted to Suite101.com, http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/dog_rescue/95309)

Persephone is gone…

I am a rescuer.
I am made of steel.
I have stopped at the side of the road for an injured animal, and plunged my bare hands into gaping wounds to try to staunch the flow of blood.

I am a rescuer.
I am made of steel.
I have been held at gunpoint while I begged for the life of a chained dog, a dog the owner believed was his property and that he could abuse in any manner he thought fit.

I am a rescuer.
I am made of steel.
My heart is hard, and holds no forgiveness for these two legged monsters masquerading as human beings, these monsters who inflict suffering on the innocents of our planet–be they children or animals. I hold a broken and damaged animal in my arms, and hope these monsters will suffer the fate they have subjected these innocents to—that they find themselves in hell, chained without food and water, that they know no kindness.

I am a rescuer.
I am made of porcelain.
My heart shatters into fragile shards as I hold this gentle soul while she gasps her last breath. My tears fall on her soft muzzle as I kiss her goodbye.

Persephone is gone…

Persephone was just a puppy. In her too short life she had endured so much suffering—She, and the two dogs rescued with her, Donnan and Courage, had lost almost all their fur. Their skin was burnt black from chemicals; mange and the blistering Summer sun in Arkansas. They had been starved, their limbs withered and weakened by malnutrition, and their joints were painfully swollen. Their eyes were puffy and oozing from being sprayed with weed killer. Rescued from Hell, these three traveled over 1000 to find safety and love.

One month. That was all the time Persephone had. One month to learn that hands don’t hurt, that food bowls are meant to be filled, that fresh water is plentiful. One month to learn to play, to learn to trust, to love and be loved. One month to heal the wounds, the skin lesions and infections. One month to savor special meals, to gain weight, to grow fur—to grow beautiful and confident.

One month could not undo the damage her previous life had caused. One month is too short a time… One month is all we had.

Persphone was doing so well, that I never entertained the thought she would not continue to do so. She had gained weight, her skin has softened, and she had grown a downy soft fur that covered her formerly burnt skin. Of these 3 sweet Rescues from AR, Persephone seemed to be the strongest…

Wednesday evening, though she didn’t eat her full portion, she was still bouncing and happy. When I awoke on Thursday she was in distress. She was lethargic, would not eat, didn’t want to go out, and acted like her hind legs were stiff.

I called the vet’s office, and we there, waiting before the vets arrived. Persephone was seen by the first available vet, Dr. Langbourne.

Of the things I was concerned about, and asked the vet, were blockage; tick borne illnesses, (the three had been covered in ticks when they were first picked up); mushroom poisoning, (though I religiously search my yard every morning); and toxicity from the weed killer they were sprayed with.

Thursday’s visit consisted of exam and x-rays. The x-rays showed gas at either end of the intestinal track, but no blockage. Persephone was given a long acting antibiotic, a blood test, and we were sent home with instructions to return first thing the next morning for a barium enema.

On Friday, her films showed no blockage. Her liver enzymes and kidney functions were within normal range. Her white blood cell count was slightly elevated, but this could also be from the staph infection, (the small pustules under the skin).

In addition to the medicines for her stomach, we also started her on doxicycline in case this was a tick borne disease, and we waited for the results of the titers test. $500 in two days, still mounting, and we still didn’t know the cause of her discomfort.

When I picked her up Friday, I was accompanied by Courage. On the trip home from the vets, Courage lay with his head and one paw across Persephone–worried and quiet–as she was so still.

Persephone was not eating, barely drinking, and on Saturday I began subcutaneous fluids. There had been no change, she lay as still as death. She would raise her head to drink a little, but would not eat. I sat with her, gave her a bit of broth, and held her.

I held her, professing my love. I was afraid to sleep, afraid I’d lose her. Courage and I lay close to her on her blanket—he with a paw thrown over her, me with my arm cradling her head and stroking the soft new downy fur. We returned to the vet’s on the Monday morning.

Her blood test was dismal, showing both liver and kidney involvement. But her x-rays… Her lungs were completely obscured from view by the cloudy white of fluid or massive infection in her lungs. She was laboring to breathe; her liver and spleen were enlarged. As I looked at the x-rays, my heart dropped. Hopes dashed, tears sprang to my eyes as Dr. Paula and I made the decision to release her from her suffering.

I kissed her nose, her muzzle, and her soft ears. I told her how much she was loved, and how many people had sent Angels to guide her and keep her. I tell her of my Magnus waiting for her at the Bridge.

My tears fell on her soft fur, she gasped, and she was gone.

I am a rescuer. I am made of porcelain. My heart is shattered. My sweet little Angel is gone. No forever family, no home of her own.

Persephone is gone…

I come home, and attempt to explain to Donnan and Courage—survivors of Hell—that Persephone has gone to the Bridge. That she is safe, and happy… Exhausted, I seek my bed to finally rest from the last several days of round the clock vigil when suddenly my home is filled with a mournful dirge. All 9 Rescues in residence have thrown back their heads, eerily lifting their voices in plaintive song to the heavens. For several minutes their grief is given voice, and my tears flow.

Persephone is gone…

I have asked that she be cremated, and her ashes returned to me. I will not regret the expenses of the last few days. I hope there will be help for her vet bill, but if not… I will find a way. Take out a loan, beg–something.

I am a rescuer. I am made of stern stuff.
My heart will heal with each animal rescued, the glue that mends my heart is the pictures from adopters, their stories, and their love for their adopted Rescues.

Persephone is gone, but she knew love. When the time comes, I wonder if I will recognize her at the Bridge. She will have a lovely coat of long white fur. She won’t be naked, will she?

R.I.P. 9/23/02

Please light a candle for this sweet furchild and remember her in your hearts. Please visit 1000 Miles to Safety (sadly, I am unable to find a link to this report. I remember reading it several years ago and being tempted to violence against those who would be so cruel to these innocent souls. I will keep looking).

Persephone, journeyed to the Rainbow Bridge 9/23/02.
Running with the Angels