Thursday, February 18, 2010

a sad good-bye to two dear friends

We lost two special souls to health issues recently. Both were from the big bust in Kay County, Oklahoma in winter '08. They were everybody's favorite survivors, so writing this blog post was rather hard.

Effie

They say when you save someone's life, you're responsible for them for the rest of their life. That rang through my head recently when we heard that Effie was being returned by her Berkeley Animal Shelter adopter, who was unable to meet her needs. We went into fix-it mode when we got the news. What do we do? Who can make some quick room? The news was especially hard on Donyale, who took Effie off of a frozen chain in Oklahoma a year ago December.

Effie had to be the oldest dog in this horrific 2008 cruelty case. She was missing most of her teeth and was starting to show cataracts. There's no way she would've survived much more of this deep freeze if hunters hadn't stumbled across this massive yard full of chained dogs. But then, she had to survive us.

With a big storm behind us and another one on its way, we could only grab a handful of dogs out of harm's way. There was nowhere to bring them to thaw and sort out personalities, a big rig from Best Friends was caught in snow and still two days away. And the town's sheriff was there to remind us: With more bad weather on its way, it was time to shut the yard down - now. It was impossible to think of choosing dogs under these conditions, but impossible to sit home and let them all be lost. Thank god MABBR was there too, not only for moral support but with a van ready to take several dogs away to their program. Even so, selecting a small group of dogs and helping a local vet put the rest to sleep was an obscene assault on any rescuer's heart.



This was Donyale's first cruelty case but it was great to have her along because she knows the breed well, and she's able to think on her feet in really crappy and stressful situations. I knew she wasn't going to have a melt-down where we needed to be focused and make smart decisions, but I didn't expect her to say "Let's take this one!" when we passed the older red dog on the chain. She was right though - Effie wanted to connect in a big way, and she oozed into our arms all stinky and tattered, like only an old world pit bull can do. She was destined to come to California and the live the life of a princess, first in the shelter, and then perched on the sofa of a home that would later spoil her rotten.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. Surrendered by her sobbing owner (long story), Effie hopscotched over the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society where the shelter vet staff detected a time bomb: Effie had an enlarged liver and a telltale tumor on her vulva. Emails flew back and forth, and we worked out a compassion hold for the sick girl. She was going to spend a couple of warm weeks in front of the fire at Ana Poe's collar store, and we were going to get some time to fawn over here and take her for hamburgers and practice saying good-bye. But instead, her condition took a nose-dive and - just last night - the decision was made to let her go. She passed on in peace, and all around the bay area, Effie fans sobbed in their hands.

She was braver than brave, more beautiful than a champion show dog, and very much loved. Her abuser, who saw fit to leave a hundred dying dogs on chains with no food or water in freezing temperatures is set to be tried on May 25. I don't know how much Effie remembered from that place, but she refused to let it stop her from soaking up every bit of luxury in her new life. - Donna

Nelly

We lost Nelly a few weeks ago, but it has been just too hard to talk about until now. I asked Tim to write her little memorial, especially since they adored each other. This has been a tough winter, my friends. We so look forward to happier days this spring.

Donna left me behind with a bottle of painkillers to nurse a frozen shoulder when she went out to Oklahoma with Donyale. She phoned when she was there to tell me about the dogs they'd found at the massive cruelty case mentioned above. There was a change in the tone of her voice when she began to describe one of the dogs ...



“Well I’ve never seen a dog like this before... she’s missing her nose. Her legs are bowed, she’s partly bald, her toes are splayed, and the guy cut off her ears in one cut so she looks like a gargoyle. She’s been bred repeatedly, is coughing and sick. We don’t have a spot for her, but I can’t leave her behind to die here after surviving this hell. We can at least give her a compassion hold for a couple of weeks if we can’t find a spot for her to convalesce."

I couldn't imagine what was coming, but she sounded very special. Below is a little video Donna shot in the hotel room that night. Nelly had only been off her chain a couple of hours. After a warm bath, this was her first experience with a bed.



When we got her back to California, Nelly tested positive for Babesiosis, an incurable Malaria-like blood parasite not uncommon to dogs used as fighters. This fact combined with her serious birth defect (she could hardly breath) made her survival nothing short of a miracle. Even with these problems, she gave us all the impression that she could live forever so we decided to believe her and committed to doing everything we could to improve her chances and give her a good life. A surgery to open her nasal passages failed, but Nelly reminded us daily that she could power on despite her discomfort.

The Dragon Princess went to live with trainer Sara and her beau Jared for her final months and played non-stop with their dog Leroy and Ambassadog Aberfoil. Her greatest day was at the San Francisco Pride Parade last summer as she walked to the cheers of thousands, in a pink tutu. She was accustomed to being fawned over and couldn’t walk down the street without attracting a small crowd - which she loved, of course.

Everyone commented on her eyes – those soulful saucers that looked right into you and patiently waited for you to bend down and give her what she had missed out on for so long. I can’t think of Nelly without picturing her wagging her entire torso. A tail wag was just not enough to express the joy this little girl had bottled up inside her. “Optimistic” is an understatement if used to describe the beautiful Nelly. She was a creature whose sheer joie de vivre cheated death for years and made it possible for her to live her final year in a relaxed, peaceful state of well being.

Many years ago in Jamaica a man speaking about Bob Marley told us “there will never be another Bob.” I’ll always feel the same way about Miss Nelly. Rest in peace, little darling. You were one of a kind. - Tim

66 comments:

Leslie-Ukiah said...

I'm so sorry. Thank you so much for making the end of their lives what the beginnings should have been. You gave them joy and love, thank you.

Phena Phenomenon said...

Oh you guys,
I am so sorry. Thank you for giving Effie and Nelly a chance. Thanks to you they were surrounded with love until the very end.
Bless you for everything you do... because through you people are seeing the TRUTH.

J.M. said...

Lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I read this. I`m so sorry for everyone`s loss.
There is so much love and hope in their eyes even in those first pictures. Now there will be a couple more beautiful souls keeping watch over the new Barn along with your Simon. These dogs are loved and mourned around the World.
R.I.P

Amanda said...

Typing through tears as well. What beautiful tributes to two beautiful bully spirits!!! So glad Effie and Nellie knew such love in their lives.

Jen said...

my gosh, what beautiful creatures and what beautiful tributes. Bless everyone at Bad Rap for seeing the beauty and true potential in these dogs.

Dianne said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What JM said. More crowded over the rainbow bridge lately, but there are always more on this side who need your love.

cre8vekaos said...

All I can say is thank you. Thank you for giving these sweet, sweet spirits dignity and love at the end of their lives. Thank you for having the strength and compassion give these amazing examples of resilience the best times of their respective lives. Thank you for seeing their own individual strong souls.

Leila & Quizz
Richmond, VA
Having never met either dog personally, both touched me. But I had a particular affection for the only pit bull gargoyle in the world Miss Nelly.

Each of these dogs leave an impression on our, the readers hearts, but like the warriors you, Tim and the other amazing people at Bad Rap are you have each earn a warriors mark of valor on your hearts. The funny thing about such marks is that it actually strengthens the heart an infuses it with the memories and attributes of those we have lost allowing us to love even more.

So, thank you again for all you do.

Amy M said...

Wow...you guys are truly special! I have been watching for updates on Nelly and my heart sunk when I read of her passing. I have a rescued pittie and know how they grab a spot in your heart. They know that you rescued them and are eternally grateful. Thank you for all the hard work that you do to educate people and stand up for the rights of pit bulls.

At the end of the day, pour a glass of wine and reflect on how you have, and will continue to make a difference! Gone but never forgotten...now go out and rescue another! Bless your hearts Tim and Donna!

Pibble said...

I'm so sad and so sorry for you, all of you. You work so hard, do so much good, and take losses ten times harder than anyone else, I'm sure.

Pups like Effie and Nelly would never stand a chance with most other rescue groups. They'd be passed over for younger, more "perfect" animals. But you saw the beauty and soul they each possessed. In your care, they finally found love, even pink tutus, to call their own.

Thank you for doing what so many others can't, don't, or sadly, won't do for these precious dogs.

tiffany said...

I am a vet tech at Berkeley Humane and I thank you for this tribute to Effie, we all loved her very much and she will be missed. I spent some time hanging out with her in her cage yesterday and gave her lots of kisses.

Donna said...

Thanks to all for your sweet comments. It was hard to think of telling Nelly's fan club about her death. She had such a big following and sadly, she died around the time that Fay died so pit bull lovers were getting socked with unhappy realities. Babesia is a nasty condition and unfortunately it will take more of our favorite bust dogs as time goes on. Even though we want to be selfish and see survivors from these situations live on for many years, in many cases we'll have to remind ourselves that a few weeks or months of post-rescue comforts is still a life well lived.

Kate said...

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I'm deeply sorry for the loss of these wonderful dogs. I never met them, but I know I would have loved them! I have so much admiration for everyone at BAD RAP. Thank you for everything that you do!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for the loss of these two girls. Oh Nelly, I am so so sad I am absolutley broken-hearted.

Tim said...

I think you all make us tear up as much as we make you. Your words are dear and comforting. Thank you all.

Oxo said...

dear donna and tim,
i am so sorry to read (through the lenses of tears) that sweet effie and nelly are no longer with us. you have been asked to shoulder heavy burdens these past few months. your friends and supporters across the country mourn with you---for effie and nelly and most especially for simon. there have been many losses of late: lassie from "the other end of the leash" and demo and NYCKitten's Juno and phoebe from "a book and a dog." i have cried for them all. i applaud your dedication to the work and your cheerful encouragement and words of advice in the face of your sorrow. i'm not much of a god person but i know that you are doing god's work.
please do come to new york city. we will make a fuss of you.
oxo in harlem

jonzak said...

This really moved me. Another dog lost. It happens and we can't control it, and I say that not with a lack of emotion, but rather with all the emotion I can give. It will not be long before another grand soul passes on, another story to reflect upon, another set of eyes crying before the monitor. Just when you thought your heart was broken, you find there's room and the capacity for a little more give, a little more love-loss to sacrifice, a willingness to mourn -- in honor of another soul passed.

Both Effie and Nelly strike so hard. They were so damaged by souls without hearts to break, no capacity to care, no tears to shed.

Then there are the guardians, the loving ones who sweep in and tend to the battered, give to the wanting and hold the shaken: The Badraps, the MABBRs the Sulas et all who fight for, and nourish the spirit of, these wonderful dogs.

It hurts so much to think of the pain and suffering so many of go thru -- to reflect and wonder if perhaps the reward of rescue never lasts long enough to make up for the cruel beginnings. All we can hope for, and to do, is shine light and love where there is shadows and fear.

I can think of very few places that shine as brightly as this blog, moving me continually with stories of the grand souls who lived, are living and have sadly passed away.

Shine on Donna, Tim and crew -- doggies and all.



How can we know. In the end rescue is not a finite

Lynn (in Louisiana) said...

Two days ago I was sorting stuff for our 09 tax return. In the pile was the letter from BADRAP thanking me for a donation towards the barn. My mind wandered back to a blog comment I made shortly after sending in the check. In the comment I had made a math error. I made a second comment clarifying the error and blamed the fact that I made the error on Tim for his a comment he'd made that Nelly was "in heaven". I, and a few others, had initially thought he meant that she had died. You know how your mind goes from one thing to another... Anyway, now I see there is no mistake and dear Nelly is in fact now in heaven (or at least waiting at the bridge as they say). :-(

And Effie. I remember when you introduced her to us. I even asked about her once. I love old dogs.

I'm really glad you two have each other.

Thank you for your work.

Katie said...

I was just watching Ceasar Millan with my rescued bully boy, Chester, when I thought I would browse the BadRap site and check on Nelly. The first time I saw her picture she grabbed my heart. I was very sad to read of her passing (and Effie too!), but so thankful that there are compassionate people who accept the role of providing dogs like Nelly and Effie with dignity and love. Sorry for your loss <3

Diane said...

Saddened to hear about Nelly and Effie passing but heartened by the love and quality of life they received in your care. Thank you for all that you do!

Anonymous said...

Oh...my heart aches reading this. What beautiful creatures. Though Effie and Nelly's lives started in the cruelest of ways...the manner with which they lived out their final days reminds us all of the power of love.
Thank you Donna and Tim and everyone at BadRap for showing Nelly and Effie and all the other pitties, the love they so truly deserve.

Godspeed Nelly and Effie. And thank you.

Jackie

Kirsten said...

R.I.P., sweet girls

It's very sad to hear they've gone, but good to know they finally got the TLC and respect they deserved through their rescue.

sa karin in tx said...

Such sad news...I am weeping....I am so sorry for the loss of two precious ones, Nelly and Effie...but they knew they were loved!!
Thanks to you both for allowing them into your lives and hearts..their pittie spirits shall romp on in all of our memories!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry, words just can't express my sorrow. These two little imps really do epitomize why we continue each day, why we fight, why we love them. Rest in Peace.

Lynn in N.Cal

Tweedles -- that's me said...

It hurts so much to read these sad stories. We are so sorry that these blessed lives had such a terrible life.
But we are thankful that they finally got to know what it felt like to be loved.
We will light candles for them at the Bridge, and pray hearts wil heal.
love
tweedles

Anonymous said...

Words can not express the sadness I feel with the loss of these two girls and knowing how saddened all of you who work so hard to give these dogs another chance must be.

Although their early lives weren't what they should have been, take comfort in knowing their lives ended being cared for and loved...by many!

Hugs & Prayers,
Diana

Karel said...

My heart breaks for you and for these wonderful dogs. You and Tim are amazing people and do such wonderful work. You gave these horribly abused dogs love, joy and comfort before they left this life and you'll be blessed forever for it.

Shanda said...

I was saddened to hear of Effie's story and sudden end, and I offer my condolences to all.

As for Nelly, I will spend the rest of this night in tears. She has been an inspiration! Rest in Peace, Beautiful Dragon Princess XOXO

Aimee Chagnon said...

OMG. I am almost sorry I logged in before my big trip. You are just the best. I'm in tears--can't imagine how you two are feeling. What a crappy couple of months. I will be shouting to the Haitian hills the wonder that is pit bull--and pit bull rescuers! Half the team is coming from Iowa, so maybe my pibble propaganda will have some lasting effect. I'll keep Nelly and Effie in mind, as I will my own Kali Dog on this mission of mercy. Hang in there, and Godspeed to you!

Donna said...

Godspeed to Haiti, Aimee!

We'll be thinking of you and sending our best thoughts for strength, stamina and lots of healing energy coming on out through your fingertips!

tresjolie said...

Ugh. I'm already an emotional trainwreck this evening and don't have anything wise or wonderful to say, so I will just say thank you for letting these dogs know what love is.

Lisa said...

Thank you for listening to what the 2 girls had to say.And thank you for making their end full of life & love....wish there were alot more people in this world like you....

The Foster Lady said...

Donna and Tim, I am so very, very sorry for these losses. I know they are very, very difficult to bear. Give Sally and Honk many hugs and let them give you many kisses to make the sting less painful.

This has indeed, been a difficult winter.

Dina

who wouda thunk it?? said...

so often here, I type through tears. I cant imagine how you face these things so often, but thank God you do.
Bittersweet is still sweet, I guess, after the sting fades.
God vless you and Tim

Pam said...

I am stunned to read of these passings. I knew Effie (and her endearing nuzzles and kisses) well, and Nelly less so, but as Tim says, there was something very special about that sweet girl. Thank you for giving them the opportunity to know love and kindness, albeit for a fraction of their lives. Another reminder of how forgiving and resilient dogs can be. And, bless you for your work.

AlexC said...

Dear BadRap Heroes:

Please never underestimate the power of your love, optimism and strength. They are an inspiration and a counterbalance to the opposing forces that sometimes make us feel defeated. The work you do has made so much of an impact. Thank you for giving these special girls the love they deserved and for everything that you do for our beloved breed.

Home2k9 said...

I don't have words... just to say that I'm sad along with all of you. Such heartbreak to love and lose, I'm holding my rescued babies extra close in honor of those dear girls.

Take care of yourselves!

Dianne said...

Re-reading this, and wondering how you will every get out from under these overwhelming losses, I have to ask about Effie's adopter. Are they okay or do they need our help, too? I have seen the sobbing owners at our shelter and they are a pretty sad story unto themselves.

Nichole said...

Oh Nelly. You were my absolute favorite. I have loved you since the minute BR posted your picture. I'm so so so thankful for the folks at BR for giving you a chance at the normal, happy life you deserved.

May you rest in peace little girl.

Sally's mom said...

Reading this heartbreaking piece and all the heartfelt comments made me think that when the world was young, it must have been dogs who taught humans how to love.

RIP, sweet girls. And hugs to all who knew and loved them.

Donna said...

You are so sweet to worry about everyone, Dianne. Effie's adopter came down to the shelter to say good bye before she died, so she was able to receive some support.

And, Tim and I are getting ready to welcome a new husky into our home. We can't wait to start all over with our new rescue boy. (More later)

Life hurts, and then it reminds us how to keep moving forward. We'll be okay. *Thank you* for caring like you do.

Anonymous said...

It has been a hard, cold winter of much loss and sadness. Fay, Simon, Effie, Nelly, and just yesterday, Cesar's boy Daddy.
Thank you each for enlightening and enriching our lives. You will live on forever in our hearts and memories.

Susi & Bunny in Monterey

Dee said...

Wow, this post hit me hard. I have been following Nelly and the OK dogs for some time on this site. I am totally devastated about Nelly. She just seemed to exude this special energy in her photos and videos. My thoughts are with you.

Leigha said...

The news of the passing of these two beauties is heartbreaking. May you who were closest to them find comfort knowing they both knew what it was Like to be loved, thanks to bad rap. The news of nelly hit me especially hard as even tho I never met her I can tell how amazing she is. Hugs and bully love to you tim and Donna.

Samantha Laine said...

OHH. Sending prayers to Great Spirit for NELLIE and EFFIE.

Dianne said...

I love, love, love that you are getting another Husky boy! It makes me smile, and I look forward to being regaled with photos, videos, and The Story.

redvelvet femme said...

wow, this post broke my heart. having fallen in love with nelly through this blog, i hate to see her go, but i thank all y'all for the love and compassion you showed her and countless others.

NYCKitten said...

This winter of death has been very cruel indeed. I am so very sad that Nelly and Effie are no longer here on earth. But along with Cesar Milan's Daddy who just passed...and all the dogs we lost...including my beloved Juno, my goodness do we have an army of angels guiding us as we do what we do. The biggest, wiggly pit bull hug to Bad Rap...
Shine on pitties, shine on.
XO Susan

Anonymous said...

I would just like to echo all of the comments already here...I am so sorry for your losses. To Donna and Tim: I hope you know how much your work with these dogs is appreciated by people (like me) who you will probably never meet but please remember we are thinking of you and cheering you on!

Rinalia said...

What a gift it is to love and receive love. The good love hurts. It wrenches and twists and wriggles its way into, then through, your heart.

These two got what so few don't. They gave like most dogs do.

I am sorry for your (collective) loss.

havetailwillwag said...

oh wow i'm crying. thank you for sharing these stories about effie and nelly. i'm at work trying not to let anyone see my eyes fill with tears!! i am so deeply touched by the stories and the terrific photos bring them to life for me. its wonderful that they were able to enjoy being loved and happy for a while. May they rest in peace.

Doc Sinister said...

Thank you so much for all you did for these sweet girls. You gave them more love and happiness than they ever knew existed before they were lucky enough to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Not gone... just gone on ahead.
Rest well, beautiful girls.

Kathy said...

Thank you Tim and Donna. I think those of us that never had the pleasure of meeting Effie and Nelly are very greatful that we got a chance to know and love them through your words and photos and videos. Bless you for all you do each and every day for these magnificent dogs.

Heather said...

I never read about Effie before now, but Nelly... I wanted to take her home. Her little gargoyle face just sucked me right in. Your loss brings me pain as well, but at least now Nelly will be free from whatever pain the Babesia was causing her.

RIP beautiful gargoyle Nelly

Diane; The Dog Diva said...

I'm crying though I never knew them. I didn't have to, I loved them anyway, just the same.

Princess said...

I grew to love them both through your words and pictures. I'm sad to know that I'll never see sweet Nelly's face in new pictures. :o(

Emily The River said...

I routinely check your website, and have for years. I've rescued 3 pit bulls from less-than-ideal situations. Things that I read about this breed, things I see them endure, and the unending love of my own dogs perpetuates my admiration and commitment to help this breed in any way that I can. Your piece on these two dogs really touched me (I'm crying at my desk at work, like a complete nerd). Please understand the scope of my praises for the work you do and the message you spread. Hopefully, in the future, cruelty to this breed won't be an issue, and in the meantime we all must stay the course with our mission to help those in need.

Mindful said...

I am sitting here bawling. It never ceases to amaze me just how much capacity these dogs have for love, no matter how badly they've been treated.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P sweet girls. I'm so glad you found love and comfort even if it was at the end. Thank you Badrap for your great work.

Kara said...

So heartbroken. But I'm happy the pups had good lives in the end. RIP

Shauna said...

Tears streaming down my face.. Heartbroken.. But I feel she had one of the happiest endings a doggie could ever hope for! I wish I could have had the privilege to meet this wonderful girl.. It breaks my heart to know she suffered but, I am so happy she finally found love.. even if it was short lived..
Bless you all at BadRap.

jess said...

i hadnt been on the site in quite some time, and decided to check up on my pretty girl. i cant believe nelly is gone. she was such a beautiful dog. i had always hoped that maybe, just maybe i'd be able to adopt her once i turned 18. but she is in a better place now, up in doggy heaven where she wont suffer. rest in peace beautiful nelly

Sarah said...

Thats so sad. This is why I think we should have more Vet Tech's out there and promoting Vet Tech school so we have more people out there like you to help take care of these wonderful animals. Thanks for your hard work!

Elaine in Marin said...

(tears) Thank you all so much for ALL you do. I love these sweet angel doggys. I'm still looking for work after 11 months and on FS, but as soon as I get a job, I want to help you with your work. These beautiful, loving dogs give us unconditional love and joy. Thank you for saving them from unspeakable cruelty and bring back their happy tails! I love you guys/gals, thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.These story's Broke my heart.I'm a proud owner of a pitbull and she is the love of my life.wish i was in a better situation so I could give a home to more pit bulls.all animals deserve to live a good life

Deborah Flowers said...

Dear Dear Everyone at BadRap,
my heart breaks for the loss of Effie and Nelly. But it also leaps with joy to know the love and happiness they were given after you and your peeps rescued them. Even if only for a short while. That video of Nelly's first encounter with a bed...joyful joyful!
My bed is empty right now as my own sweet Staffie went to be with Jesus on Memorial Day of this year.
Thank you so so very much for ALL that you do for this most special, and most misunderstood breed