People and Places

A Dog’s Story

Posted on April 13, 2012

Our daughter Emma currently lives in Damascus, Syria.  She rescued a puppy, now named Sally, and while she has fallen in love with her, Em is off to the UK in the fall and can’t take Sally with her.  We travel far too much to take another dog (it’s one thing to get people to take our one dog, but too much to ask them to take two).  Here is Sally’s tale (sorry, bad pun) if you could share it and maybe help us find her a home.


…for long walks (on the beach, in the park, in the backyard, through the woods, wherever), steak dinners (preferably uncooked), lots of cuddling, and tug-of-war.  Age, race, sex, profession, height, and weight of no consideration.


 A couple of months ago Phil and I were sitting in our respective offices here in Sahnaya when we heard what sounded like a dog being tortured outside.  Long accustomed to yelling at stick- and stone-weilding boys in the abandoned lot four stories down to leave various creatures alone, we opened the window to shout down.  But there were no boys around, and at first we couldn’t even see any animals.  Then we noticed a tiny black dot running around frantically and screaming.  

 Naturally, we dashed down the stairs and outside.  By the time we got there, the puppy had already crossed the field and was heading for our local gang of stray puppies.  At first we thought it was one of them, but as we got closer we saw the new puppy was far too small.  We called to her, and she came running over.  We figured she had lost her mother and we spent the next hour searching all over.  We know all the strays in Sahnaya pretty well though (Max, Lassie, Mack, Irween, Rocky, Husky —  the aforementioned boys chose the names), and we couldn’t imagine which one might be her mom.  None had been pregnant for awhile.  Eventually we decided we’d at least take her home for the night, give her a meal and keep her out of the blustery wet cold.

 When we picked her up we realized not only that she was half-starved, but that some one had chopped off her ears.  They were red and raw and bloody and awful, and the cuts were too symmetrical to have been from another dog.  When we passed the car wash near our house — at the corner where we first saw her — we asked the guys there if they had seen which direction she came from.  Waseem said some boys had driven up in a car, tossed her, and driven away.

 She’s been living with us ever since.  Her first few days were awful.  Her ears were infected, she had a fever, she couldn’t eat.  She was too weak to walk.  But some combination of the horse antibiotics the vet gave her (he’s really more accustomed to farm animals…), rehydration salts, and a steady diet of chicken and rice managed to save little earless Sally.  Now, at around four months old, she’s grown into a fantastic, funny, friendly dog.  Her ears have healed perfectly and they make her look like a little bear.  Her health is great, her spirit indomitable, and paws seem to grow bigger every day.

 I’d love more than anything to keep her here with me in Syria forever, but it’s impossible.  Not only do we lack access to basic pet resources here (a good vet — or at least one accustomed to dogs rather than cows, dog toys, obedience classes, etc.), but I don’t even know how long I’ll be able to stay in Syria.  She can’t accompany me to Oxford in October either (not only would I have to smuggle her into the dorms, but England requires a 6 month quarantine). We thought we had found a home for Sally in the US (she even has a plane ticket to Boston for May 10th!) but her new family decided they didn’t really want a dog.  So now she’s looking for home.

In a lot of ways, she’s still a puppy — playful, energetic, eager, lanky with goofy-big paws.  But she comes with all the benefits of a couple months of training — she’s house-broken, sleeps through the night, and knows the commands come, sit, stay, down, off, fetch, go pee, and even “go see Philip”.  Her ideal home is probably one with other dogs, since there is nothing she loves more in the world than playing with dog friends (her ideal home is probably full of discarded old boots and raw steaks, for that matter).  That said, she loves people a lot (she tries to go home with everyone she meets), and would happily substitute human company for puppy company.  She is pretty easygoing and her needs are few — she likes a couple of vigorous walks a day, three big bowls of biscuits, lots of toys, and a comfy cushion for sleeping.  

If you know anyone who might be interested, I’d really appreciate it if you’d forward this email.  May 10th is fast approaching and Sally has been looking at with me those big sad fawn eyes and asking about her new family.  Her younger brother, Arthur (no blood relation — just another abused and abandoned little puppy who lives here with us too), has a family waiting, and Sal is starting to feel like the awkward, teenaged foster kid who keeps getting passed over for adoption in favor of the newer, rounder-cheeked little babies.

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