Bubba and VioletBubba and Violet

 It Takes A Team

It was one loss after another for Violet and Bubba, two 11-year-old white shepherd-husky brother and sister.  In the end, all they had left was each other, and even that was about to come to a tragic end.  They had lost more than half their tight-knit pack, their mother and two other siblings, to illness in recent months, and then in sudden and heart-breaking events, they lost their human family as well. 

In tremendous distress, they were brought to the Transylvania Animal Control shelter, where it became quickly apparent just how difficult it would be to help these two big dogs who desperately needed each other and a new home together.  As the days dragged on, their future looked bleaker and bleaker.  It was clear that Bubba and Violet were not just big, white, huggable polar bears, but a little more like their distant wild ancestors – sensitive, a little uneasy about strangers, elderly, and more comfortable watching than greeting.  However much they had once been loved, they had been kept rather to themselves by their family, so they were not prepared to be the kind of family dogs that are most likely to find a home.  They would need more room, less commotion, more special handling, and probably more healthcare due to their ages than could be found.  Their time was running out.  An old family friend came to see them and was heart-sick at their sad, dispirited state in their confinement.
That is when Charlie’s Angels stepped in to help with a plan to bring them to a private kennel, to arrange fostering, and to look down the way toward potential adoption and transport out of the area.  This would at least give them a chance, however daunting and long-shot the prospects.  Unfortunately, when they were being picked up from the Animal Control facility, a series of events began that made things even more difficult.   Violet had difficulty handling the challenges and the pressures of loading up, made warning snaps, and the Animal Control officers declined to allow her to go.  Bubba, already in the vehicle, was released to travel, and as stunned and confused as the volunteers were, they opted to go ahead to at least provide him with some of the comforts of foster care.   They would continue to follow Violet with new efforts to gain her release. Violet was promptly put back into a run, which now effectively became solitary confinement in a dim, damp, old building.  She was shocked, desperate, and for the first time in her life, utterly alone.

Over the next couple of days in foster care, his Angels found Bubba to be sweet and gentle, but deeply depressed at the final blow of losing his sister, the one piece left to him of their recently destroyed lives.  They would sit on the floor holding this 120 lb. lump, stroking him to encourage him to eat, but with only a little success.  There was growing concern for his well-being .  Meanwhile, Violet grew more and more despondent in her gray cell.  She was restless, apprehensive, and her lonely barks seemed to sound rather hopeless even to herself.  Prospects for her future were dimming by the hour, and with her sensitive awareness, that only added further to her burden.

But that is when things began to change.   Alerted to the dogs’ dismal plight, other helping hands also began to join with Charlie’s Angels in finding a way to preserve a future for these two magnificent animals.  A dog trainer and a dog behavior consultant volunteered their time to make an assessment of Violet to determine whether she would represent a risk of danger if she were released.   It was arranged for Bubba’s foster Angel to bring him to the shelter at the same time, so that he and Violet could be reunited, and then both could be better evaluated.   It was actually hard to keep a dry eye in watching Bubba and Violet’s relief in finding each other again after their forced separation.  They were first surprised and seemed almost hesitant to believe that right there was actually the other half their own hearts.  Then they leaned into one another, like the relieved two elderly souls that they are.
Over the next couple of hours, the evaluation of the dogs revealed marvelous complexities about them and their relationship.  They were undeniably so bonded and dependent, especially after the series of traumatic losses they had suffered, that they needed each other in order to remain emotionally able to weather life ahead.   Reunited, Bubba was immediately more easy-going and laid back, while Violet showed how deeply responsible she felt for her pack – a pack devastated over recent months, and then all but totally destroyed, something that clearly weighed very heavily upon her.  In Bubba’s presence, she rallied to assume her duties of checking on territory, scoping out people, watching that Bubba was ok, signaling that, though broken, she wanted to wear again the mantle of her former job.  It was poignant to watch this.

In interactions with Animal Control staff, the foster Angel, and the trainers, they both revealed some of their awesome character and their positive potential.  All of that, however, would not be enough if a suitable placement could not be found, one that could reliably manage these two dogs and their needs.  Fortunately, even as the evaluation was proceeding, the good  samaritans from Friends For Life Forever Farm, a life-time sanctuary for elderly and special needs animals just up the mountains, already previously alerted to the homing crisis for Violet and Bubba, had been working out a plan to receive these orphans of too many storms -- if their evaluation indicated that this kind of environment was appropriate.   The evaluators were in agreement in recommending that the two dogs, neither a danger when reasonably handled,  be placed together in the care of Friends For Life Forever Farm,  the placement that could offer them more of what they needed than any family home that might be found.  And of course, none had been.  The Animal Control shelter released Bubba and Violet to Friends for Life Forever Farm.

The trip to the sanctuary with their new family was calm, as if the dogs knew it to be a journey to safe haven.  It was made easier with the familiar presence of their old family friend and the behavior consultant, and from the time the little caravan arrived at their new home, Violet and Bubba began to relax and to take on an attitude of exploration.

Over the next days, various members of the team that had come together to help them dropped by to visit Violet and Bubba, who come to greet them with tails waving to and fro.  They are settling well into their new home and are bonding warmly to the Forever Farm family.   They will be sharing a cottage just for them along with a porch, grassy enclosure, and generous access to a large, fenced field to live out their lives loved, respected, and protected.  They have begun to nap on grassy knobs in the sunshine and to sing a beautiful duet, heads high to the heavens.  Their voices, at first somewhat plaintive, have come to lend a spirit of peace as they carry over the heads of all their animal neighbors and into hills.
All who were a part of their journey from despair to hope and loss to healing can’t help but be touched by Violet and Bubba’s noble spirit and courage.  In their darkest hours, they inspired teamwork and determination in people.  On their sunny afternoons, they so clearly give back great thanks. 
You can look for further information about them at http://www.friendsforlifeforeverfarm.org/.    
                             Heide Coppotelli – April 4, 2013