Journee.

Journee’s Story.

Warning: Sensitive subject matter and some semi-graphic photos. 

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Journee once had owners that lived in a house in Indianapolis. For reasons unknown to me– her owners up and left, while their dogs were still outside. My best guess is that the owner(s) went to jail, because all of their belongings were still in their house, packed (we could see into their house from outside) and their truck sat out front in the same spot for months. The history I know about Journee is from the original owners neighbors who filled me in on what they knew. I was told that they had multiple dogs that lived outdoors, Journee being one. When the owners left, the dogs roamed the neighborhood for a while, but the others eventually either left, were picked up, or hit by cars– I really do not know. I do know that Journee stuck around that neighborhood for months.

The neighbors noticed her sticking around and started feeding her, one of the neighbors posted her on Craigslist to try and find help for her. This is how I found out about Journee. I started emailing with the neighbor who posted her online, and told them to give me some information about her usual habits and whereabouts. My boyfriend Scott and I drove out one evening to where she was, about 20 minutes from our house, thinking hopeful thoughts that we would simply find her, catch her, and take her to the vet.

Once we got to the neighborhood, we weren’t sure where the exact house was that she was hanging around. We parked in the school parking lot, which opened to the school field, and the back of the field met the neighborhood yards. We walked around the field, saw a man walking through it, and went to ask him if he’d seen a white dog. He happened to be the man that I had been emailing, he said he’d seen her the night before, wasn’t sure exactly where she stays near, so we gave him our numbers and asked him to call us when he spots her. We drove around the neighborhood, stopping at each empty house, knocking on doors and climbing fences to check the backyards of each.

We looked for an hour, then we got to a cul-de-sac, the last house was an empty yellow house. I had a funny feeling about it, we went through the backyard, but didn’t find anything. The house next door looked like it had been abandoned, we knocked to make sure, then went into the backyard. That’s where we first spotted her. She’d been living in the yard of this house, which was not actually abandoned, just very unmaintained. There was a huge privacy fence, and we thought we had her cornered. We weren’t expecting to find her though, so we didn’t check the outside of the fence for holes first and the inside had grass and weeds too high to see any holes… But she knew exactly where the holes were, she panicked and slipped out of one. After looking around the yard she was in, it was clear she had been living there. No one went into the yard, it was full of old bikes and cars. There was a path through the grass worn by her coming in and out, and little nests of grass laid down where she had slept. No one bothered her there, until us.

The yard Journee was living in.

The yard Journee was living in.

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After we narrowed down the area she was staying in, we knocked on the neighbors’ doors and handed them pamphlets with my information and the rescues information, explaining that we would be trying to catch her. One family said that animal control had been out 3 or 4 times to try and catch her, but each time, were unable to. I was determined though. We walked around the rest of the nearby houses, and we saw her laying in the school field. She had a swollen belly and a hurt foot so she couldn’t run for a long time.

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While walking around the field… we saw Deebo. Deebo was chained in the backyard of a little blue house. He lived in the corner of the yard. We went to talk to his owners, and asked if they had seen the white dog around. Turned out, Journee had been hopping the fence to Deebo’s yard for a few months. She snuck into his yard every night around midnight, and they slept together. He was the reason she stayed in the neighborhood– and the father of her puppies.

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We placed a live trap that a friend let me borrow, in the front yard of the empty yellow house, and filled it with all kinds of dog goodies, food, and water. We covered the trap, tied it up to a tree so no one would take it, and left a note on it. The next day, hoping she would be caught, we went back to check but the trap was empty. After a week or so of refilling the trap with fresh food, we moved the trap into Deebo’s yard, so that maybe when she came to visit him at night, she would go into the trap.  We spent a few nights sitting in my Jeep, waiting for her to come to the trap. Nothing ever happened. We filled it with dry dog food, wet dog food, cat food, dog treats, hamburgers, cheese, hot dogs, bologna, you name it; we tried it. We also tried patching up the holes in the fence of the first yard we saw her in, where she had been living. We asked the home owner – who had no clue she was living in his yard, to keep the gate open to the yard, and we left a trail of food into it. But she had not gone back in there, because we tainted it for her.

The live trap with food inside it.

The live trap with food inside it.

We spotted her a few times over the following weeks, and we tried everything we could think of to safely catch her. We borrowed a catch pole hoping we could get close enough to loop it around her. The neighbors all had my contact information and would call me when she came near their houses. I asked them to stop feeding her in hopes that if she got hungry, she would go in the trap or come to us for food. We tried laying down in the grass, tried walking the other way, tried bringing our dog out to lure her, tried sitting and eating to see if she would be interested — and she was much too terrified to ever come close to us. Eventually, we got frustrated and tried to run after her, hoping we could run her down because of her physical condition. We realized that was a horrible idea shortly after trying it because she can fly over fences like nobody’s business, and when I was running over a fence going after her, I slipped and busted my elbow open. Lesson learned, do not ever run after a stray dog. I drove out every day bringing fresh food and water, and hoping to earn Journee’s trust just by coming around so often.

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One of the afternoons we were out there with the catch pole talking with the neighbors about Journee — two women pulled up, got out and started cussing at us. They told us to walk over to my Jeep because the police were waiting for us. While we were walking over to my Jeep, she tried to run us over, and almost hit the neighbor’s child who was helping us. There were five police cars surrounding my Jeep because she called and said “we were trying to kill all the dogs.”

When we tried to explain that we were with a rescue and were trying to humanely trap the stray white dog, she was screaming and mocking us. “Oh yeah, they’re “rescuing her” they want to kill her. She’s fine out here! She’s someone’s dog! We all feed her!” When we said IACC had been out 3-4 times to try and catch her but couldn’t, she said “I know I seen the pound out here and when you can’t catch a damn dog then you leave it alone.” So the police asked us more about what we were doing out there, we showed them the trap and said we had been out there for over two weeks trying to humanely trap her. We pointed out the house that the people in the neighborhood said she was left behin

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The police were trying not to laugh at this woman, she was screaming at the top of her lungs that we’d been “vandalizing all the houses and trying to kill all the Pit Bulls because we hate Pits.” She was rambling for some reason about us wasting her tax dollars trying to catch the dog, which I just laughed at. At that point, I had probably spent $100 or more of my money in gas for my 16mpg Jeep (yes, painful) – driving back and forth to where Journee was, and probably another $25 on buying her food and treats to try and lure her. The police didn’t care about why we were there, we didn’t get a ticket, they told us to be careful, and left. All the neighbors except this woman, cooperated with us. She was just a lunatic.

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We had a few friends come out to help us look for Journee, and when I couldn’t get out there to check the trap and give her fresh food, others were willing to. She had never let us get within more than 50 feet of her, but about a week before she was finally caught, she let me get within inches of her, so I knew at the point that she had started to trust me, at least a little bit. After weeks of trying everything we knew to try, spending hot afternoons walking the neighborhood and nights waiting in my Jeep — she gave in. She was hot, tired, pregnant, and scared. She just lost all will to keep running and got close enough for me to loop a leash without her running away. That afternoon we drove directly to the vet — who examined her and confirmed what we were dreading, she was pregnant. Other than that, she appeared healthy. She was not terribly skinny because we had been feeding her — and though we weren’t sure exactly when she had gotten pregnant, the vet first estimated she had about a week until labor.

Finally in the car.

Finally in the car.

At the vet right after we caught her.

At the vet right after we caught her.

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So we took her for a bath, and lord did she need it. She was filthy and covered with fleas and ticks. Then we brought her home while I looked for a foster home for her. I had never had experience with a pregnant dog & puppy birth before so I had hoped I would find someone with more experience and a quiet home for her to relax in before birth and then stay with the puppies until they were old enough to be adopted. I set her up with a crate and bed in our spare bedroom, away from our dogs while I searched for a foster. My efforts were fruitless, no one stepped up to foster — understandable because puppies are a lot of work, and a lot of cleaning. So, she stayed with us. After her first week — she had shown no signs of labor, so she went back to the vet just to check that things were okay. Everything seemed fine, so we were just playing the waiting game.

Her first bath.

Her first bath.

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Then during week 2, she showed signs of labor that were false alarms. One night I thought she was in labor so I stayed up all night with her. When there were no signs of puppies coming, she went back to the vet. Still, everything looked fine. The vet wanted to give her a couple more days — and if still nothing, she would have to have a c-section. We waited patiently, we made sure she had a safe, clean place for birth. She got a baby pool full of blankets and towels, she was eating good food and sleeping almost all the time. During one of her vet visits before the puppies came, she was tested for heartworm — which came back highly positive. Though I had hoped she wouldn’t be, it didn’t surprise me. She had been left outdoors in the summer with no prevention. We waited to start treatment until after the puppies were born.

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On my birthday — I said I wished for Journee to have a safe, easy delivery of healthy puppies as my gift. I had anxiously awaited the arrival of her babies from the first vet visit the very day she was caught, which at this point — had been close to three weeks. We knew a c-section was imminent. We went to sleep on my birthday not thinking anything was out of the norm. Journee had not shown any signs of labor that evening, so I did not suspect anything. But I woke up in the morning and walked into our hallway. I saw what I thought was a potty accident from Journee on the ground. When I looked closer, I realized it was a deceased puppy. At that exact moment, my panic kicked in. I tried to stay calm, I found Journee hiding in her crate with more puppies. I made sure she was okay with me touching the puppies and wasn’t going to be too protective, and I gently lifted them up. Another that she had tucked under her teat, was also deceased. I attempted to revive him, but he was gone.

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There were 2 little puppies that were cold and trying to nurse. We picked them up, put them in the baby pool on a heating pad. I walked Journee into her pool and left her to the puppies. I called the vet, trying to hold back tears, explaining what had happened. We thought Journee was only going to have 4 puppies — and 4 had been delivered. She was still laboring though, so we were going to wait an hour to see if she was going to deliver more, and then take her to the vet. She was taking care of her two puppies, cleaning them and letting them nurse. Shortly after, two more puppies came at once. One stillborn, one alive. By then my parents had come to my house to help us, so we attempted to revive the puppy, with no success. My father wrapped the three deceased puppies in a blanket and buried them in the corner of our yard where there was a patch of flowers.

Journee nursing her four boys.

Journee nursing her four boys.

Journee was taking care of the three living puppies — but still laboring. A seventh puppy arrived, she would not break the amniotic sac and he was going to suffocate, so we broke it open. He was weak, barely moving. She did not want him. I put him on the heating pad while we made a bottle of puppy formula. I lifted him to her face, trying to get her to pay him attention. I held him to her nipple for him to nurse and he could barely open his mouth. Eventually, he latched on and almost immediately gained strength. Not enough to nurse without being held, and she still did not want him. She kept trying to pull away and leave him, knowing that he was weak. I repeatedly tried for her to accept him. After a half hour, she did — she began cleaning him and tucked him in with his three brothers by her stomach to nurse. Everything seemed great, she had stopped laboring, she had accepted the weakest puppy, and all four boys were nursing on their own.

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I was so relieved. I was upset about the three puppies we lost, but felt a huge sense of relief seeing her take to the surviving puppies. We left her alone, and called the vet to update them. We all thought she had no other puppies. For an hour — things we good, we checked on her periodically, the puppies were okay. All were warm and eating. We decided to name her four boys all Greek God names; Hades, Apollo, Theseus, and Zeus. Zeus was the strongest, the biggest, and the noisiest. He had not stopped nursing since she got in the baby pool and he was able to lift himself to wiggle. Hades was the last to be born, the smallest boy. Apollo and Theseus were about the same size, both also tiny.

Zeus, Apollo, Hades, and Theseus.

Zeus, Apollo, Hades, and Theseus.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Journee turned on the puppies. She lifted Zeus away from her teat, I watched from the doorway thinking that she was going to clean him off. She bit into him. I ran to her and heard him squealing, she would not let go. I pried him out of her mouth, but he had tooth holes through his fragile body and blood was pouring out. We went to lift the other three puppies away from her, and she grabbed Hades into her mouth, trying to bite down. I got him out before she hurt him, only barely. We put the puppies in a box with blankets and a warmer, got Journee in the car and rushed to the emergency vet. I held Zeus, trying to stop the blood. Once we arrived, the vet took Zeus in the back and told us that she had punctured his lung, not only was he bleeding out, but there was air leaking. He was humanely euthanized after we kissed him goodbye.

Zeus before we said goodbye. One of the puncture wounds is visible on his shoulder.

Zeus before we said goodbye. One of the puncture wounds is visible on his shoulder.

The vet took Journee in the back — we knew something was wrong because of how quickly she turned on the puppies. They did an ultrasound and saw more puppies — but couldn’t detect fetal heartbeats. This was now life or death, she needed an emergency c-section or she would not make it. So she was prepped for surgery, while we made the remaining puppies their bottles and kept them wrapped in blankets on warm packs. After a few hours, the vet came to talk to us to say she made it through surgery and was waking up from the anesthesia. They removed three more puppies, all already deceased– one had not properly formed and was missing part of his skull. After midnight, Journee was ready to go home. She had her stomach stapled and we were armed with pain medicine, antibiotics, and a cone. We were told to not allow her to be reintroduced to the puppies, she had a huge incision and had already rejected them.

Journee's incision.

Journee’s incision.

So we stayed up through the night feeding them often. We knew they had a small chance of survival. We knew that Journee had likely turned on them because she was either in pain from the other puppies, or she knew something was wrong. They were loud, and loved to be near each other. When one would leave his brothers to eat, the others would squeal until he was back or they were being fed, too. They would wiggle around and crawl on top of each other. When they would lay on my chest they would all wiggle to be under my shirt. They were full of personality and spunk at only a few hours old. I learned each of their needs. I knew that Theseus got colder easier than the other two boys, so he had his own warm pack and was always wrapped in a blanket or on my chest. Apollo loved to eat, I never had to struggle with him to get him to drink the bottle. Hades loved to sleep but as soon as he was hungry he would start screaming louder than I ever imagined his little body would be able to, but calmed down once he was done. He hated when I had to help him go potty, he just wanted to take a nap right after eating. And when he got too warm he would wiggle away from the warm side of the box.

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I slept on the couch with them in the box right next to me. I didn’t sleep a wink the first night. Journee was in a separate room and she would cry when she heard them. It was the most heartbreaking noise to hear. She didn’t understand what had happened, she loved her babies. She did what she thought she had to do. Sometimes nature is cruel, and Journee wasn’t having any of an easier time than her babies were.

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In the morning my sister came over and helped to care for them while I slept. She bonded with them instantly. Theseus was “her” boy. He wanted nothing to do with me once Hannah had held him. He spent his entire second day with her holding him. He slept comfortably in her shirt. He was the first of the three survivors to pass. It was incredibly tough on all of us. I felt like I should have been able to do more for him. It was different when he passed. I remember we had all three of the boys at my parent’s house, we knew we were losing Theseus because he just started crying and crying. Before that he had been quiet unless he was hungry. We couldn’t do anything to comfort him. I called the vet desperate for something to help him, they said we were doing everything right and it was up to him, and to nature for him to survive. I started to panic in his last minutes. I gave him to my mom to hold. She knew he was slipping away, he was wrapped in a blanket and not long after, his painful cries stopped and he fell asleep in my mother’s arms. The other puppies we lost were completely out of our control. We had a chance to bond with Theseus. We knew his smell, his squeal, and his little movements. It was much harder than I had thought. It is amazing how much we can bond with other creatures, so quickly. He was buried in our backyard with his other brothers and sisters. We still had Hades and Apollo to care for, and their mama.

Theseus.

Theseus.

The next day was a rollercoaster. They were constantly up and down, but each hour that went by increased their chances of survival. They continued to hold on, and they were growing. I am not a religious person but I found myself praying for them more than I had for anything before. After Theseus passed, I came to terms with the fact that it wasn’t up to me, or anyone else, if the other boys lived. We were doing everything we could do, it was up to them to keep fighting. Hades passed two days after Theseus. He went downhill very quickly, there was no struggle and no painful cries. He just drifted away.

Hades.

Hades.

Apollo survived the longest. He lived to be five days old. He had struggled immensely in the beginning, I thought many times that I was losing him but he hung on. We had gained a little bit of hope for him, he had survived longer than anyone anticipated. But we knew not to get too excited. He, too, drifted away peacefully. He fell asleep and never woke up. So much effort by so many people was poured into those sweet little souls, but some things are just not meant to be. Journee was following her instinct. They just were not fit to survive. Those few days I spent caring for them were some of the hardest, but most rewarding days of my life. They left a huge imprint on me, and to this day I find myself wishing that I could see them running through fields and rolling around.

Apollo.

Apollo.

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A day or two after Journee’s birth, she developed a mastitis infection. In the morning when I went to let her in the yard and feed her, I saw that she had gotten her cone off in the middle of the night and she was covered in blood. I immediately thought she had torn out her staples from the c-section. When I checked her, the staples were fine but her teat had broken open. I took her to the vet, it was cleaned up and she was given more medication. I put warm compresses on it as often as I could. It came on so strongly and quickly, and she was so uncomfortable but so good about letting me help take care of her.

Her mastitis infection on the first day.

Her mastitis infection on the first day.

She had lost her appetite entirely. I tried so many foods and combinations to get her to eat. I had to open her mouth and shove her medications down because she wouldn’t eat anything I hid them in. She wanted to sleep and that was it. It was more than her being ill and in pain, she was grieving. She had been through so much and it just wasn’t getting any easier for her. After a few days her mastitis infection began to clear up. She had started to eat a little bit at a time, and after a week of ignoring me, she wanted to snuggle and kiss me. I could tell that she was starting to feel better both physically and emotionally. It was another huge victory for Journee.

Her infection once is was healing.

Her infection once is was healing.

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She was making great progress, she was warming up more and more to us. She was showing more of her personality, that she had been too scared to show. She loved getting ear rubs, when I rubbed them she melted in my arms. She started to rub her face on my face as a way of showing affection. After two weeks, she got her stomach staples removed. Her incision healed perfectly with no issues. Her mastitis had cleared up. But we had started to have issues with her anxiety. She would wreck the house when we left, if we tried to crate her, she broke out. Because she still had so much emotional and physical recovering left to do, we talked to the vet about anxiety medication to ease her stress. I didn’t want to focus too much on training when she was still recovering. For the next six months, anxiety was something we battled nearly every day. Some days were great, some were awful. I did everything I knew to try, I have had anxious dogs before and had been able to help them, but Journee was something entirely different. Many times we came home to her having broken out of her crate, covered in blood from scraping her face on the metal. She chewed through two doors, our chair, ripped up anything she could find, out of sheer panic.

Journee's face scratched up after breaking out of the crate.

Journee’s face scratched up after breaking out of the crate.

After her last incident where she completely shredded a door apart and had pieces of wood stuck in her gums, the vet increased her medication yet again. I started giving her natural chews for anxiety as well, which I made sure were safe to give alongside her prescription. We also started using a pheromone diffuser for her, and with those three, we finally found the combination that calmed her. From then on, she was fine when we would leave. She would simply want to sleep on the couch.

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It was vital that Journee remained as calm as possible because of her heartworm disease. She was never allowed to exercise, between the pregnancy, c-section, mastitis recovery, and heartworm disease—it was much too dangerous for her to run and play. Once she had healed a bit, we went to the vet for an X-ray and ultrasound of her chest. Her disease was advanced, we could see a massive ball of worms in her chest. Her heart was bulging in abnormal ways because of the amount of adult worms.

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She started treatment in July. First a month of medication, then she stayed overnight at the vet for an injection and to be monitored. A month after that, she went back for more treatment and another stay at the vet. The morning that I was taking her for her last appointment, she didn’t want to walk out the door. She pouted in the front seat of the car and stared at me all the way to the vet. I felt so awful but I knew it was all going to pay off in the end when we could say she made it through.

The car ride to the vet, pouting the whole way.

The car ride to the vet, pouting the whole way.

Small square on her back was shaved for the injection.

Small square on her back was shaved for the injection.

She did great the few days after, I was watching her closely. She was allowed to walk around the yard and bask in the sun but she didn’t get to go for long walks. The spot on her back where the needle had gone remained sore for a couple days but everything seemed to be going wonderful. Then she started coughing, which was a big concern for me. I called the vet and they told me to increase to dosage of the medicine she was already on at home, so I tried that for a day. The coughing and wheezing got worse, so I brought her back in. With more medication prescribed, within a week she was completely fine again. She is truly an incredibly strong dog.

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She still has to come to a place where she is truly comfortable in her own skin without medication, and that is still a work in progress. Journee has seen a great trainer who referred us to a veterinary behaviorist for her. We will have a consult with the behaviorist once Journee is comfortable in her new foster home or once she is adopted. The veterinary behaviorist will come up with a behavior modification plan specific for Journee to help her become a balanced dog.IMG_3863 10006956_1506340492982709_268682822403374712_nShe was retested for heartworm a couple months ago and it came back as a low positive. Significant improvement from a high positive, we are hoping the worms are still working their way out of her system. She is on monthly heartworm prevention and she will be retested again shortly.

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Potty training Journee took months. She had never lived indoors, and by time she had the chance to live indoors, she was already so pregnant and it was in the middle of the summer. She wanted nothing to do with walking outside, she would hold it until we got back in the house. So I gave up, I let her have the rest of pregnancy using pee pads. Then the recovery from the c-section and mastitis. After that, it was time to get serious. She would go out on a regular schedule and get praise and rewards each time she went potty outside. She was never allowed to roam the house when we were home in-case she found a corner to go in. She started catching on and the accidents were fewer and fewer, but she would still go a few times a week for months. Finally in October, we made it two weeks with no accidents. It was huge. I was so proud, she did it. I could say she was finally truly potty trained. Another success for Journee.

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Things with other dogs that seem simple, like being left alone or learning not to go pee in the house—were huge undertakings for Journee. She did the best she could, and I never held anything against her. How could I have when I knew how much she had been through in her short life? Humans had done nothing but fail her over and over until we came along, and it’s no wonder that her trust took a while to earn. Journee also had bouts of mild seizures shortly after being caught. After seeing the vet and running tests, we understood that Journee’s episodes were triggered by stress. She would seize in the car on the way to the vet, when she would see me getting ready to leave the house, and when she saw me getting her medications out of the bottles. We found ways around the things that triggered her and worked on desensitizing her to them. She was still so scared that at any minute she would be in danger, constantly on guard, so as long as we kept her stress level down, her seizures wouldn’t happen. Eventually when she started to really bond with us, and feel safe, the seizures stopped entirely.

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Journee is very smart and loved when we worked on training. She is incredibly food motivated so when I brought out her favorite treats, she would get very focused and was quick to pick up on learning how to sit and lay down. For the record, she knows how to do both very well, but she picks and chooses when she wants to do them. For seven months I took care of Journee. She bonded with my male dog, Laszlo and our cat. She would try and mimic the cat, she laid where the cat laid, trying to get herself into a tiny little ball. She went on walks with us, went for drives, she learned our routine. Everything was trial and error with her, it was new for all of us. I watched Journee grow from a dog with fearful eyes that didn’t want to make eye contact and cowered in the corner, to a dog that wiggles her entire body when her tail wags, wants to smother humans with kisses, and whose eyes lit up and are full of love and trust. That is a transformation that made all the struggle, stress, and frustration beyond worth it.

Journee and Laszlo.

Journee and Laszlo.

Trying to fit into the cats favorite spot.

Trying to fit into the cats favorite spot.

In the fall, Scott and I started looking for a new house. We had moved to Indianapolis in January and it didn’t take me long to realize that I completely hated living in the city. As soon as our lease was going to be up, I wanted to leave and move back to my hometown. We found the perfect house; that accepted Bully breed type dogs and we could afford. The catch was that there was a dog limit. Journee, as our foster dog, couldn’t move with us. I felt like we—myself, Scott, and our animals, had done enough for Journee. I felt like it was alright that we did what was best for us and we let Journee move onto the next home.

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So I started looking for a new foster home. Weeks went by with nothing promising. I was quiet about the search for a foster home for quite a while. I didn’t want to be questioned why I wasn’t keeping Journee, or why I didn’t find a place she could go to as well. But without any luck, I had to make a bigger effort and post online more about looking for a foster. That’s when people started saying things like I was going to confuse her by giving her to someone else. Wondering why I don’t just keep her since she is so bonded to me. Saying that it would be cruel for me to give her up, that it was selfish of me. I can be good at brushing hurtful things off, but only for so long. I don’t have tough skin and things that people may not intend to be rude, can get to me.

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Being told to keep Journee over and over became frustrating. Fosters do not foster dogs to keep them. They foster dogs to save them. To give them the time and healing that they need so they can find their true home. Fostering isn’t easy, pouring your heart and soul into a dog, just to see them go. Though having to let them go definitely hurts, it is minimal to the amount of pride and happiness that is felt when a dog finds their family and you know they will forever be safe, and loved. Having my intentions questioned is not something I enjoy. But there were also so many people encouraging me, and that meant so much more than the few people who doubted me.

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While we were still living in Indianapolis, I took Journee out for her last walk of the night, like I had done every night for the previous six months. I usually carried pepper spray, but I never went far from our house, and that night I didn’t think to bring it along. We didn’t live in the safest neighborhood, there were constant sirens and so many stray animals. On our way back home, we were walking along a patch of grass next to the creek near our house. I saw a dog walking our way, so I turned the head the opposite direction. Journee was calm, walking beside me. The dog began to run towards us, without either Journee or I intentionally triggering its aggression, it ran straight towards me and lunged. Journee intercepted, she protected me, and when she put herself between the stray dog and me, the dog bit her nose. I had to kick the dog off of her, which I still feel bad about to this day– but I ran home with Journee.

Journee's bite wound.

Journee’s bite wound.

She was bleeding from the wound on her nose, though not as bad as it could have been. She was so scared she was shaking, and she just wanted me to hold her. The bleeding stopped so we waited until morning to go to the vet. Journee is fully vaccinated and it was a clean bite that didnt need sutures, so she was put on a round of antibiotics. The emotional wounds this incident caused have been longer lasting, by far, than the physical. Although she was shaken up and is still working through dog reactivity that started only after this incident, she was very proud of herself for protecting me.

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When it came time for us to move and Journee still didn’t have a foster home, I had to do what I dreaded. I brought her to boarding. I had researched boarding facilities in both Indianapolis and Bloomington, and most of them that I had called turned us away. Journee’s needs were too much. One of the only places that said yes was an incredibly nice facility in Bloomington and the day that we were moving, I brought Journee there. I dropped her off with all of her belongings, all of the things she loves to chew—bully sticks and her Himalayan chew. The staff seemed understanding and kind. I had planned to visit her as often as I could. I drove out of the parking lot at 3pm. By 8pm the same evening, I got a phone call saying that Journee was much too stressed and she had been obsessively rubbing her nose on the wall of the kennel. If she didn’t calm down by the morning they didn’t want her to stay.

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I reached out on Facebook and a friend of mine offered to try boarding at the place she works. So I picked Journee up at 6am and we drove back up to Indianapolis to the new boarding facility. I dropped her off once again with all of her things, praying that this might work. I had tried to contact a dozen other rescues asking for help with Journee, but each one I contacted replied that they were full. Understandably. If this boarding situation didn’t work out and I couldn’t find a foster, I honestly had no idea what I was going to do.

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It turned out that Journee loved Fort Ben Boarding. She was slow to warm up to the staff, as I expected, but she wasn’t nearly as stressed. It didn’t take long for her to bond with all of the people there. The staff loved her as much as she loved them. Fort Ben Boarding was exactly what Journee needed. For almost three weeks she met new people almost daily. She became less and less shy. When I would visit her, she was hardly interested in me, she was happy and paid attention to her favorite staff when I was there. I finally found her a foster, and when they came to meet her she was only slightly hesitant but not hesitant enough to resist kissing her. The next week I dropped her off at her current foster home—and she has been doing incredibly well. I am so grateful to Fort Ben Boarding for taking such wonderful care of her, and being so patient. And I am so grateful to her foster, Missy for bringing her into her home, knowing how much of a nutcase Journee can be, and giving her a chance.

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Journee’s journey has been long. It has been full of tears of both joy and sorrow. She has overcome every single thing that life threw at her, and she let me be the person to help heal her. Her story includes many people. Her medical and boarding expenses exceed $4,000— and then adding her other various expenses, food for eight months, treats, toys, her crate, (many things were sent from Amazon)– if I had to guess would exceed another $1,000. It’s no secret that Journee is incredibly loved and incredibly blessed. I could never have rescued Journee on my own. I’m a college student with a part time job and my own animals. There is no way in hell that I could afford rescuing Journee on my own. That was possible because of donations, though I’m clearly no good with exact numbers, but there has probably been 150 people who donated to Journee. Some gave $5, some gave $100, and some gave more. It all added up and made it possible for her to be saved. Journee would have died on the street, she wouldn’t have made it through labor and delivery alone.

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Her story is not yet finished. She still has growing to do. She still has to find her forever family. But getting as far as we have, is nothing short of a miracle. She is almost to the end of this chapter. The rest of her life will be knowing that she will never suffer through heartworm disease again. She will be able to run through the yard on a sunny day. She will never be hurt or betrayed. She will never wander the streets looking for food. She will never have another litter of puppies. She has an extraordinary story, so many people coming together for the life of one dog, her strength in overcoming so much. The rest of her story might just be simple. She’ll be a dog, loved and cared for. Nothing exciting, but for her to have that—to have “normal”, is so very deserved. We have worked very hard, and I thank everyone who has helped us get this far. It takes a village. And Journee, you have been worth all of it.

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If I could say one thing to whomever left her behind, it would be that I hope you one day realize what you lost. Journee is true to her breed– loyal, loving, and forgiving. I know that if she met you again, she would greet you with a kiss. I wish you understood how undeserving you would be of that kind of loyalty. She is one of the best things to have happened to me, so for that, I thank you– and we wish you well in life, but perhaps, without any dogs.

 

Questions can be sent to PitBullSizeHeart@gmail.com

If you made it through this entire post, thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you to everyone who made saving Journee’s life and giving her a second chance, possible.

With love, 

Elyssa and Journee.

UPDATE: MAY 2016.

Journee was adopted in June of 2015 by a loving family and spent almost a year living in the country as an only dog with plenty of room to run & kids to love on. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances her family had to surrender Journee. This is no fault of Journee’s, she is a wonderful, loving dog but her family fell on hard times. Because I am no longer active in rescue, have 3 dogs of my own, & my fiance & I are working towards becoming licensed foster parents (for children) I was not able to bring Journee in to my home again. Thankfully, when I reached out for help on Facebook, a generous rescuer with a ton of experience stepped up to help Journee.

Initially, we thought this would be temporary as Journee’s owner hoped to get her back but Journee’s owner surrendered her to Leann Lawson’s rescue. This means that now Journee is back on the road for looking for a new home. She is the same beautiful, spunky, loving dog she always has been – just a year older and wiser. She has spent the last year loved by her family and I can only imagine how shattered her heart is right now being uprooted so quickly, but she is strong and will bounce back as she always has.

Journee will be under the care of Leann Lawson until she is adopted & adoption will be done through Leann. Journee still needs to be the only dog in the home but she absolutely adores humans, especially children. If you are serious about giving Journee a forever home please inquire with Leann Lawson through Leann’s Animal Rescue via Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/LeannsRescue/?fref=ts

Donations for Journee’s expenses & care until she is adopted can be made to Leann. She will be due for her yearly vaccinations in 1-2 months and heartworm prevention is absoultely necessary especially in the summer months, and is pricey. Leann was kind enough to step up for Journee when she already has so many rescue dogs in her care and I appreciate her help endlessly.  I will be setting up another Amazon Wishlist for anyone who wishes to support Journee with food , treats, etc while she waits yet again for a family. Hopefully, her next family will be her last family. She’s got so many people in her corner, her future is still so bright. Thank you for your understanding & continued support.

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