He strode through the gate like he owned the place, a big burly guy sporting a wide battle-weary face. After a quick greeting sniff he confidently headed towards the back yard on 4 short, stocky legs… ready to check out this new place, another new surrounding, the latest of many.
And scars there were… from his rag-a-tag ears to the deep now healed gash covering much of his neck. Weathered greyish zig-zag markings, a permanent mapping of his past… documenting a history of 14 years living in Northern Manitoba as a stray.
Past history being just that, not much seemed to phase this old man and I was happily anticipating learning more of his story while attempting to capture his character with my camera.
From what I had been told, Al’s story took a turn for the good one rainy day this past May when by chance he happened across two rescuers dumping dry dog food on the ground. Tracy and Karen, with Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba, had traveled many miles from Winnipeg with only one purpose in mind… to help feed the numerous stray dogs wandering that remote community. Their busy day was drawing to a close with just one last food placement when up sauntered this older, stocky, laid-back boy.
“Oh my god, Karen, come look at this guy’s scars!” Tracy called to Karen, marveling at his track covered face and then equally taken in by his easy-going nature.
Grateful for the food, he seemed to appreciate their company and lumbered after them as they turned to head back to their car.
Oh great!!.. now what to do!… how could they go and leave those soulful brown eyes staring after them.
And the decision was made to put off their departure in the hope of finding out more on this guy.
After several inquiries with both local residents and authorities it was determined that this dog was indeed a stray… a stray thought to be near 14 years of age, existing by his wits and the kindness of locals, having endured and survived more than a few turf battles over the years.
What to do next was only shortly debated. He simply could not be left behind … so even though the intention had been to not bring any dogs back, the soon to be named Al was loaded into the car. He calmly seemed to accept this new twist and resting his head on one of the laps of his new found friends he settled in for the long ride back to “The Peg”.
To old to really be considered adoptable, especially with the several unknown facets of his history, it was quickly decided that he would become a permanent foster with Earthdogs… their new spokesperson perhaps, the perfect representative of the heart and work that this rescue stands for.
And what an easy study he was. Cooperative and friendly he seemed most happy to have me follow him around.. camera in hand. Frequently he would stop, sniff and then turn towards me, head down, coming in for a head butt, his way of asking for a pat and ear scratch. With his easy demure and soul filled eyes my heart was soon won over. Al Poochino could now add one more fan to his soon to be many followers.
One would hope that Al’s life would be nothing but good things from now on, but sadly not all the news has been positive. A trip to the vet has determined that Al has yet another battle, and its a tough one. He has tested positive for heartworm.
The good news… Big Al will not be dealing with this alone. Earthdog Terrier Rescue has generously decided to help Al in this one last fight and is going ahead with the treatments. Al, meanwhile, remains confident and content in his new surroundings, accepting the new as if it belonged to yesterday, simply being friendly and outgoing to all he meets… capturing many a heart with his happy disposition and ear to ear grin.
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ~ Karen Davison
Post Note: Earthdog Terrier Rescue is a non-profit rescue group run solely by dedicated volunteers and is 100 % foster based. If you would like to make a donation to help towards Al Poochino’s medical fees as well as help many other dogs in need, please visit their donation page at http://www.earthdogterrierrescue.com/donate/ .