Trooper In 3-Parts

Part 1: BEFORE

Trooper on Day 1 of his Part 2.
Trooper on Day 1 of his Part 2. The staff stopped counting at over 50 cuts & lacerations to his face, legs & body then dumped in a ditch to die.


Part One of Trooper’s story is thankfully behind him. This is a dark and painful place for him before he came to Must Luv Dogs Rescue.   Although I doubt he ever forgets it, my deep hope is that, in time, Part 1 becomes a dull, distant memory for him.  Although I don’t know exactly what happened in that part of his life, my guess is that it wasn’t good.  Trooper is a prime example of why I founded this rescue. To be the voice for the poor pups who have the misfortune to end up in the hands of damaged humans. Humans who neglect, abandon, or abuse them.   Dogs cannot simply walk up to a home, knock on the door and ask for help.  They cannot tell someone if they are in pain, hungry or afraid. Based on Proverbs 31:8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” is the official Mission Statement of Must Luv Dogs Rescue.     I’ve been involved in rescue for many years and I learned early-on that I have nowhere to “put” the anger and sadness that springs up inside of me when I encounter a situation like Troopers.   Sadly, abandoned, abused and neglected pups are a way of life in our rural area. Like many others, Troopers life was no longer of use to those involved in the barbaric practice of dog fighting.   We’ve long suspected active dog fighting groups in the rural parishes North of Baton Rouge, based on the number of dogs tossed aside to die in similar situations.  Trooper was one of the lucky ones. He survived. I don’t have the luxury to dwell on thoughts of revenge. Those feelings will eat you alive and leave you too bitter to make a difference.  So I leave that to others.   My one goal is to simply focus on how to make life better for THIS pup at THIS time.     

Part 2: SO THIS IS LOVE?

Part Two of Trooper’s life begins with his rescue.  Life will forever be changed for him from that date forward. Trooper was rescued by a local couple, Renee’ & Brenda Watson Uzee’ of Ethel, LA.    Renee’ says Trooper was as much his savior, as the other way around.    Renee’, recently in remission from leukemia, was still suffering as a result of the medications his body endured to fight the life-threatening disease.  Feeling weak that day, Renee’, a talented hair stylist, was being driven by his wife Brenda into Forum Salon, the always bustling business he owns in Baton Rouge. Traveling along a rural highway in East Feliciana, Renee’ was looking out of the car window when he spotted movement in the ditch.  He asked Brenda to slow down.  Once he realized the movement was an animal, he shouted for Brenda to pull over.   Picking up an almost lifeless Trooper, they rushed him to Veterinarian Dr. Liz Ezelle, at Plains Animal Hospital in Zachary, LA.   Dr. Liz & staff quickly went to work on Trooper.  He was in shock, undernourished, dehydrated and covered in blood and debris.   Dr. Liz sedated Trooper and stopped counting at over 50 wounds and lacerations to his face, neck and legs, including one that almost severed his tongue, and a hole ripped through his sinus cavity. They flushed out his wounds and started him on IV fluids, pain meds and antibiotics.  This was the first of daily wound flushing he endured for two solid weeks, in addition to sinus cavity flushing that continued for a solid 6-weeks. During his initial treatment, a very weak Trooper somehow managed to made quiet sounds, as though to say “thank you”.  It speaks volumes that this precious boy wagged his tail before he could lift his head. It was two days before Trooper was strong enough to stand for short periods. Weeks turned into months and slowly Trooper started coming back to life.  During this time, Troopers bright & cheerful personality began to shine.  Despite his horrible past, he still NEVER meets a HUMAN that he doesn’t immediately love and want to say “hello” to. Slowly recuperating, the sweet little 2 yr old pittie was soon dubbed “Trooper”. His happy personality, determination to live, and his persistent tail-wagging, no matter the pain, makes him the very definition of a “trooper”!  

Troopers favorite treat after a Saturday morning socialization session. Maple Bacon Donut!

Part 3:  The Best Is Yet To Be!

“After many weeks of TLC by the staff at Plains, the Must Luv Dogs Rescue group, as well as the Uzees, who continued to visit him, Trooper was, ever so slowly, coming back to life.  Longtime friends of Brenda, Must Luv Dogs Rescue Executive Director, Cindy Nettles Shotwell, was contacted almost immediately to ask if she would accept him into her program. Shotwell didn’t hesitate to say “yes!”.  As luck would have it, Dr. Liz Ezelle had recently agreed to serve on the MLD Board of Directors. The rescue group stepped up from the very beginning. Founded by Shotwell in 2017, the foster-based program, serving the Greater Zachary area, concentrates on rescuing abandoned, dumped and neglected dogs.   They soon held a special donation drive for Troopers extensive medical expenses.  With the help of many friends and Facebook followers, the rescue group was able to pay for his medical expenses.    Over the next few months, as Trooper continued to make progress, the group tried in vain to find a foster home for Trooper. They wanted him to be able to leave the confines of the small concrete & wire kennel/dog run at Plains.  Sadly, all foster homes have multiple dogs and Trooper needed to be an only-child, at least until he was finished with his socialization training.    

Although Trooper receives lots of love and attention from both clinic staff, as well as Must Luv Dogs volunteers, he still doesn’t have a family of his very own.   The fact is, after an entire year, this precious boy STILL lives in a concrete dog run at a clinic. One of my board members & officers, Sharon Brown, took a special interest in Trooper and has been so faithful to bring him for weekly walks. Sometimes, Shotwell and Brown let him ride with them to the bank or to run errands. Brown occassionaly sneaking him off to Sonic for a much loved snack. Shotwell regularly stopping by Prince Donuts in Denham for his much beloved maple-bacon donut. A special prize he earns after his socialization classes on Saturday mornings. I always enjoy our time together while driving him to Saturday morning socialization sessions in Denham Springs with renowned Trainer, Larry Benoit.  Larry has donated his time with Trooper. I feel as though I’m letting him down with each passing month that he’s stuck living his life inside that kennel.   He deserves to have his very own family.   He deserves to live inside a real home with a real family.  He deserves to have a special spot on the sofa or his very own dog bed.  He deserves endless belly rubs in front of the TV or sharing a tub of popcorn with his very own humans while binge watching Netflix. Tears well up when I think of how thankful he is to just be alive .  He’s always so happy to see me, even if it’s been 2 weeks since I’ve had time for him.  He doesn’t hold it against me.  He just wags his tail & wants to lick my face.  My sincere desire is that Trooper’s Part 3 will include a family of his own, which will include overindulgent love, never ending patience & an abundance of maple-bacon donuts! Now who wants to help by “Takin’ Trooper to Work!” Cindy

In brainstorming ideas for some “out of the box” ways to get more exposure for Trooper, I thought of doing a promotion where we can get people take trooper to work. “Takin’ Trooper to Work!” begins this week with Trooper getting to go to work with Zachary’s Mayor David Amrhein. I’m not sure Mayor A is much of a “dog person” per se, but to his credit, he never hesitated! Trooper will love the attention & hopefully this will kick off several weeks of folks allowing Trooper to come hang out with them at work. The idea being that it will result in some much needed media coverage for him. (Okay yes, I thought of this in a dream! lol.  That’s where all my creative ideas come from..I think it’s because my poor ADD brain is usually like a mouse on a non-stop treadmill, but when I sleep, ideas that get buried under a stack of useless ADD thoughts float to the top! You know, thoughts like “hmmmm I wonder if that lady knows she has on two different pairs of shoes? or “I wonder when the hummingbirds will come out this year?”. If you are ADD, you will understand exactly what I’m saying. haha. Anyway.. back to Trooper. If interested in fostering or adopting Trooper, please apply at www.mustluvdogs.org


Trooper is healing… scars are visible on the outside, but inside his personality is as bright & cheerful as ever!

Please see Trooper on Petfinder at:  www.mustluvdogs.petfinder.com

Finding Myrtle

Concerned neighbors, Amanda & mother Wendy had been feeding Myrtle since she appeared in the area a few months ago. They were trying to gain her trust to help her when they contacted Must Luv Dogs Rescue for help in capturing her.

Yesterday, like many times before, I was following up on a request to help rescue a stray dog. It came from Amanda, a FB follower in Baker. She reported that a very skittish, apparently pregnant, female had been roaming in the area of her mother’s home for the past several weeks. Our fear was that she would have her puppies this weekend during the very cold and wet weather conditions. After checking the layout of the area, I quickly saw that it was going to take more than one of us, if we were to catch her. Her normal hang out spots had too many places she could run. I left food & met with Amanda’s mom, Wendy. Wendy had been feeding her for weeks & was very concerned about her situation. Wendy reported that the dog was staying at night in the backyard of one of the many empty homes in the once vibrant residential neighborhood.

Per usual, my first call was to my rescue buddy, Doug Wayne. Doug was working but told me he’d come help after he got home. Doug & I have been on rescue missions before. In fact, some of the very first pups we adopted out from Must Luv Dogs were a result of one of these. Big Mamie, Hamilton & Lil’Bit (Andie), to name a few. I donned Doug “the dog whisperer” or “Super Doug” years ago. He can catch pretty much any stray he sets his mind to catch. It takes patience sometimes. But he never gives up.

Fast forward a few hours & Doug & I were scoping out the backyard of the empty home. Doug was going further into a grown up area to see if he could find where the dog may lay up at night. I decided to go back to my truck to get my rope leash when I spotted her sitting across the street. By this time Amanda, Wendy’s daughter, showed up to help. Doug soon came through from the back yard with his catch pole and began approaching her. As soon as she realized what was happening, she predictably bolted. I stood closer to the street to make sure she wouldn’t double back & bolt into traffic. Amanda helped pursue this sweet frightened soul as she gave chase. In the end, Doug, caught up with her in a ditch area where she got stuck in a small fenced area. I went back to help Doug retrieve her and we all climbed our way out of the long overgrown ditch area. We had noticed earlier that she was limping badly. Another neighbor confirmed that she’d been hit by a car a “few days” earlier, as we crossed over his yard headed toward the kennel in my truck. This poor sweet girl was panting and really struggling to breathe. With her very distended tummy, we all assumed she may be in labor. That, along with the fact that she had obvious damage to her hind leg, we made the decision to immediately rush her to the vet clinic.

Doug carried her into the clinic when we arrived. Thinking she was pregnant, we laid her on a blanket on the floor in the back exam room. Dr. Blair was on call and was quickly concerned. Observing that the pup was in very obvious respiratory distress, after a brief exam, Dr. Blair confirmed what was beginning to dawn on us. This was NOT a pregnant dog. Dr. Blair went over our options. Sedation for exploratory surgery wasn’t a option given the condition of the patient. Suspecting a possible spleen rupture, a sonogram revealed her belly was extremely full of blood. Blood also surrounded her heart and lungs, accounting for her breathing difficulties. Based on her teeth, we observed that we were dealing with an approximate 2 year old. I NEVER want to give up on a dog this young so I asked Dr. Blair if she would attempt to draw some of the fluid out . Hoping this would relieve some of the respiratory issues and help her to breathe more normally, thereby making it possible to perform surgery. Sadly, however, the fluid had been built up for so long that it had developed proteins and other filaments making it impossible to extract via tube insertion or syringe. My heart fell because I knew we were out of options.

At this point, I stepped back and looked objectively at this truly beautiful four-legged soul lying before me. Despite being on her own for a very long time, you could see that she once had a beautiful coat of warm brown fur. Her nails were now caked with mud and in dire need of clipping. Doug had earlier observed the nails on each of her dew claws curling back, growing into itself. This, along with her diseased gums and poor skin condition, showed us that this sweet soul had been fending for herself for a VERY long time. Based on her age, I estimated that she’d been alone possibly since she was a young adult. In addition, she was recently missing a paw and her back leg and foot looked possibly fractured. Assuming all of this damage was done with her recent run in with a car, she had been living in much pain and distress for the past several days, her belly slowly filling up with blood and fluid, making her appear to be pregnant. What a fighter! For her to still be alive was a miracle.

As much as I’d like to give this story a happy ending; as happens too many times, it simply isn’t the reality of the situation. As I watched this beautiful soul struggle to draw her next breath, I knew they were waiting for me to make a decision. I also knew that the decision had been taken out of my hands. Selfishly, I wanted to do more. But I couldn’t be selfish to this sweet girl. She deserved peace. She deserved to be out of pain. She deserved so much more than her human in this life gave her. It’s times like these when I feel like punching somebody in the face. I want to find the person who enjoyed this girl as a cute little puppy. The person who laughed and cuddled her cute little fluffy puppy body while she was rolling around on the floor trying to chase a ball. The person who didn’t have time for her after she grew out of that cute puppy stage. The person who hit her too hard in anger when she was teething and chewed up their new sneakers. The person who no longer spent time with the adolescent version of the cute puppy she once was. The person who didn’t take the time to properly house train her or pay attention to her cues when she needed to pee. The same person who threw her out into the cold, wet, night when she peed on the living room floor again, simply because she was confused as to what to do. The person who finally put her in their car, drove across town and dropped her off in the middle of the night. Confused and alone, this beautiful soul couldn’t knock on a door and ask for help. She couldn’t tell someone that her owner “accidentally” left her and she wasn’t sure where to sleep or what to eat. Weeks turned into months while she desperately tried to find “home” again. She was yelled at, shot at, and sometimes chased away by other humans and larger dogs. At first she tried to approach families she saw, hoping maybe they would love her. As time marched on, nobody seemed interested in who she was or where she belonged. Eventually, she became street smart and leery of all humans; learning to recognize them as potential threats to her safety. The initial love she felt from humans was quickly fading from her memory. She rummaged for food and became accustomed to living with hunger pangs and thirst for clean, fresh, water. She found a few, favorite protected spots where she could grab a few hours of sleep without feeling threatened. This is when she became the skittish, but loving dog we just rescued.

As my mind snapped back into reality, I instructed Dr. Blair to put this beautiful soul out of her misery. It never gets easier. It never doesn’t’ make me super sad. As usual, the tears started rolling as I watched this beautiful creature slip out of her mortal, painful, broken body and into the everlasting. Once again, Doug and I discussed the “AT LEASTS”. AT LEAST at the end of her life she knew there were humans who loved her. AT LEAST she didn’t die outside in the cold where nobody would notice. AT LEAST we were there to gently calm her and lay hands on her as she slipped away. AT LEAST she slipped away quickly and her remains will be taken care of humanely. Sometimes, in this world of rescue, AT LEASTS are all we have. We have to learn to accept it and be okay with it. Problem is, I NEVER want to be okay with the fact that people are allowed to own a pet and then discard them like a pair of overly stretched-out socks. But after 55 years of living, I know myself well enough not to let my brain go down that rabbit hole. It will only end in sadness, frustration and more anger. Instead, I decide to name this sweet girl. She deserves better than to slip away anonymously. She deserves to have her name on someone’s lips, being spoken aloud one last time. My mind flashed on the name of the street I first saw her and from where she was rescued. Myrtle Street. Okay, Myrtle. Goodbye Myrtle. RIP Myrtle. I’m sorry Myrtle. This life is a mixed bag. Its full of experiences and people ranging from horrible to joyful. I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience much of the latter. Myrtle, I hope you are running free in a beautiful place. Myrtle, I hope I get to see you again someday & that we can embrace in the glow of pure joy and love. Myrtle, YOU are the reason that I spend my retirement years working in rescue. AT LEAST that is something. Cindy

Myrtle 2017 – 2019

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Prov. 31:8 

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