August 1, 2011


The heart and soul of Angels of Assisi are the people we never really see- the staff of the spay/neuter clinic. Behind closed doors, these are the folks who show up early every morning to prepare meds, sterilize surgical instruments, and carefully perform over 500 spay/neuter surgeries a month.

They are not out on the scene during rescues. They are not on TV talking about the latest adventures at Angels of Assisi. They are, however, very busy carrying out the main mission of our organization- decreasing the pet population. And the clinic staff is always there when we need them to treat the rescued animals after they enter our front doors.

Besides the regular surgical duties (and trust me, there are many) we often house sick, old, neglected and court case animals in the clinic. This means extra work for the clinic staff, but they clean and walk the these special needs animals, and always take a special interest in them. Such is the case with Moose.

Moose, a purebred Saint Bernard, came to Assisi several years ago, and had some issues- basically he hates other dogs. He was adopted out, and returned last winter, when his owner was having difficulty with Moose's dog aggressive behaviors. With his massive size, there were certainly concerns on how to handle him, and we could not put him in the regular dog runs in the midst of the adoption center.... so up to the clinic he went.

Enter Michelle, our most wonderful LVT. Partnered with Trish and Courtney, these ladies gave Moose a second and third chance in this world, and refused to give up on him. Below is the narrative from Michelle as we struggled to find Moose's happy ending.

Someone once described Moose to me as a huge Saint Bernard that was aggressive. The Moose I met was a huge Saint Bernard that was misunderstood. A big dog with big feelings. A big dog that only wanted someone to understand him and show him the love he wanted and deserved.

I walked into work that day and went to meet Moose. The dog people were scared of. I took a leash and opened his run. I put the leash on him and we went to go outside. He was very willing to go with me.

We went outside and he stood beside me, looked up at me with those big eyes of his and it was then that I knew he wanted someone. He wanted someone to be his. I guess that was my role. It seemed as though he picked me and expexted me to comply.

So, every shift I came in for started with walking him. I had been warned that he did not like other dogs. One day we went out for a walk and when we were coming back in we had to pass between two cars. One car had three dogs in it that were barking at us. Moose went to run up to the car and I pulled back and gave a firm "NO". He looked at me and decided that I knew best and walked up beside me and trotted back inside. At that moment, I knew that he was extremely misunderstood and needed help.

So, the ritual for myself and Moose started. We started taking longer walks and letting him explore. We would pass other people and other dogs. I started to tell him to "leave it" when we passed other dogs. He just looked at me and seemed ok with doing just that! We met a lot of people on our walks. Moose did very good letting people come up and pet him. He always looked to me to see that I knew he was being a good boy. I assured him he was.

Moose is a very intelligent boy. We go outside and when I sit down he always tries to sit in my lap. Of course I let him because who could stop him anyway? :) We sit there....well, he sits there. I just pray that I hit every itchy spot so that he is satisfied and will let me up. He had strted giving me kisses when I ask for them. Some even when I don't. I really don't think he knows just how big he is. He goes to throw his big head around and if you are not paying attention......well, you get hit with a very hard head. 

I have fallen in love with Moose and wish that I could take him but my home is already full of rescues. Moose really wants someone to please and to love. He is a great boy!!!  

I love when I walk into work, go to see him and when I let him out he jumps sideways and goes crazy. At the same time it is very sad as well. Sad in the fact that I have to see him lying in a run, waiting for attention. I feel he is depressed. I can understand why! I just want to see him get to really move. Enjoy life and be the big dog that lays around, rolls in the dirt, sniffs the air to get a good wiff of the neighbors BBQ. 

A chance to be a dog, a companion, a friend. He deserves that!! As much as I will miss him......he deserves the chance!

And now, enter Tammy Javier, another extraordinary staff member at Angels of Assisi. She has been working on a rescue for Moose for months, and her efforts have paid off. 

In Tammy's own words: 

Thank you Michelle, our AWESOME Licensed Veterinary Technician!! It takes a very special person to love, and give up, the love of your life so that he may enjoy a little Freedom in his life. 

When Moose gets to the Colorado Sanctuary, Blue Lion Rescue, where he will spend the rest of his days, I feel sure that he will lay in the cool grass and think of his many long walks with Michelle and be grateful to her for giving him this chance. 

When we couldn't find Moose a "regular" home, I searched for a Sanctuary but wanted to give Michelle the chance to make the decision since she is the one who spent every moment that she could with him (in her lap), walking proudly down the streets of Roanoke City, bathing him (and her), and mostly, just loving and understanding him. 

She unselfishly said "yes" right away. I know that her heart is breaking but I also know that Moose will never forget her and she will always have that special place in her heart for a gentle giant that she tamed with love.....

We may not have a pretty new building with the latest equipment. We do, however, have a staff that never quits, and do the most for the animals without anyone ever knowing, simply because they care. 

Moose will be leaving for his sanctuary in a few weeks, and I'm sure there won't be a dry eye when it happens. But they have loved him enough to let him go, yet one more  testament to their dedication and caring. Thank you, ladies, for keeping the love alive behind closed doors and opening new ones for the animals in our care. 


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