Mange is terrible – well not at the beginning. It looks terrible when at this stage, and it’s not just the “turn to stone” effect and the loss of hair. It’s the fact that you know how this animal kept being overlooked, while it got sicker and sicker, until it reached a point where it resembled a dead body more than a living being.
Shadow was a living dead, surviving on her own somewhere in the outskirts of Athens, Greece – it doesn’t really matter where exactly, the outskirts are packed with animals like her, living ghosts, waiting to die a slow, painful death, while everyone keeps avoiding them, and nobody is decent enough to -at least- put them out of their misery, as they did a few years ago.
Her bed was a pile of trash, and her daily meal included mainly dead sheep, scattered around the field. She lived in an open “burial ground” – the remains of sheep corpses are so many, that it makes you feel like you are suddenly in the Wild West or a host in a Westworld episode.
A SPAZ volunteer had spotted her days ago, and finally, yesterday noon, Shadow gave up. Sedated and tired of playing hide and seek with us all morning, she surrendered to the unknown, growling and moaning. You see, this horrible place was the only place she knew as home, and yesterday two strangers grabbed her against her will, shoved her in a box and took her away from there.
When you are a rescuer in Greece, a dog like her doesn’t really strike you as something unbelievable. I am sorry for this honestly, but we did shed our tears years ago, and we have learned by now to function in a robotic way. The “eww” reflex is gone, the “poor thing” is not affordable, and all we are left with is something like: “there’s another one, at least it got lucky I bumped into it”.
Taking her to the nearby clinic and watching the reactions of the apprentice vets was almost hilarious. There they were, not knowing where to grab her from and what to do with her, while we had the “been there, done that” attitude written all over our faces. After having seen so many like her come back from the dead in no time, after Billy, Petra, Oliver, Petri, and many others, no vet can frighten you, explaining how mange is contagious and how this animal is sicker than you can imagine.
Shadow will remain at the clinic for now. She suffers from sarcoptic mange (obviously), that usually does not come alone. Leishmaniasis, ehrichia and who knows what else are mange’s best friends, but we’ve “been there, done that” too. We are waiting for her blood test results, and we’ll take it from there. Her kidneys and hematocrit will tell us if this is a battle she can win, or if she was just lucky enough to spend her final days somewhere warm.
I am sorry if this post was too ironic, or too cold. I am sorry for the apathy you might feel lurking between the lines. It is not apathy towards that poor soul; it is just the only shield a rescuer has against madness. I am not the only one using it, most of us do. It is the only thing protecting us, because we simply can’t afford going crazy.