Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Strange Turn of Events in One Dogs's Life

Today we met Scruffy, the abandoned dog who was named by the good folks at the Conway Area Humane Society because of the way he looked when he showed up at their doorstep.

Well, he didn't actually show up on their doorstep.  Instead he was brought in by some hikers who found him in a box on the Davis Path, a lengthy hiking trail that runs from just south of Crawford Notch to Mount Washington.  As one woman at the shelter said, Scruffy would have been a meal for a bear had the hikers not stumbled upon him. 

And for those thinking he might have run away from people he was with, it seems unlikely.  The Davis Path can be a quiet place.  You don't see tons of hikers there, especially in the rain, and you hardly ever see portly, but cute, senior dogs like Scruffy.  You definitely don't see boxes along this trail so it's evident that little Scruffy was left in a box on a trail by someone who didn't want him anymore. 

We learned of his plight yesterday on the Conway Area Humane Society Facebook page and discovered they needed funds to help with his medical bills...not to mention funds to help them with their general operation.  Money's tight lately for everyone, and animal shelters everywhere are hurting. 

I was touched by the generous and compassionate response by many of our Following Atticus Facebook friends who offered to help foot the bill.  But that's one of the pleasant surprises of writing a book and having people read it.  We now have more than 6,000 Facebook friends of Atticus who keep our page lively and interesting.  Many were drawn to us because of their love of animals. Therefore, when I shared Scruffy's story, they rose to the occasion.
This morning, after a walk at Pudding Pond, Atticus and I drove over to the shelter to visit Virginia Moore and drop off a donation for Scruffy and the shelter.  We were fortunate enough to meet the little fellow and while he was abandoned by someone, it's clear he won't be alone for long.  He's cute and friendly.  He has remarkable coloring and a warm personality.  You can tell that there's a lot of love inside of him that is just dying for a new home.  (I'm told there's already some interest in adopting him after the seven day waiting period at the shelter is up.)

I was drawn to him immediately, especially since he was found on a hiking trail, but having just adopted Will, the timing and circumstances are not right for us.  But it's clear he'll be happy in somebody's home.

I don't think I could work, or volunteer, at a shelter. My heart would constantly be broken and I'd want to adopt all of the unwanted animals I saw.  (Well, maybe not snakes.  Not a fan of snakes.)  And while I understand that there are circumstances that lead to a person giving up an animal, some people who do things that are cruel and reprehensible.  I can't imagine why someone would want to give up on Scruffy, especially after meeting him.  But to make matters worse, it appears to have been a clearly thought out abandonment.  The Davis Path is not an easy trail to hike and one doesn't typically bring along a dog like Scruffy and a box.

Since we don't have room for Scruffy, we're doing what we can to help out with his medical bills and whatever the Conway Area Humane Society needs.  We made our own donation this morning and we are autographing a copy of Following Atticus and everyone who donates to help Scruffy and the shelter at this time will be entered into a drawing. 

Donating is easy.  You can mail a check made out to ARL-North and send it to ARL-North, PO Box 260, Conway, NH 03818. Attention: Scruffy.  Or, for a faster and more convenient way to donate, you can click here and use their on-line option.

In thinking of how neglected Will was when we adopted him a month ago, and about how Scruffy was heartlessly left behind, I'm reminded how fortunate we are as a society to have organizations that save and rescue animals from dire situations and cases of abandonment. 

There's a wonderful passage in Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince that goes like this:
“People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed."

Animals who are in need are nearly always in need because of what people have done to them.  Thankfully, there are people who understand the words spoken by the fox.

Yesterday, Virginia sent us a thank you note for helping out, but I was quick to point out that she and her staff do great things and every now and again we get to help them do them. 

For those of you who are donating, thank you.


cooperhill said...

You are a tremendous advocate for our friends of the four-legged canine variety.

Louis Crowley said...

Thank you Tom. I could give you an epic novel of why I'm saying thank you but I'll just leave it at ...Thank you.

Ginny said...

Thank you, Tom, for another lovely and thoughtful post, and for your love of unwanted animals. There's so much power in the community you have created by sharing the story of you and Atti and now Will...there are a million other stories out there just waiting to happen! Thank you for supporting your local animal rescue and for asking your 6,000+ friends to join you. No doubt that Scruffy will live out his years enveloped in the love he deserves. Hopefully with the attention received other dogs and cats at Conway Area Humane Society will, too.

Shannon Zapf said...

Thank you. Just...thank you!!

Silvia Soos-Kazel said...

Tom, the photos of you & Scruffy and then you, Atti & Scruffy just gave me the biggest chuckle! You are all so adorable! Thx for bringing this dire need of a little innocent dog to your FA family. Hat's off to all animal shelters, and to folks like Virginia who without their love, determination & sacrifices what would become of these innocent animal victims. I agree with you that to deal day in & day out with the ordeals that these animal come from can be heartbreaking and frustrating. It is truly a sacrifice to give of oneself to see that these animals finally are taken care of and placed appropriately. May our monetary donations from the FA family help Scruffy and hopefully will go beyond to assist with the other needy animals at the Conway Area Humane Society. Greetings to all of you from a doggie lover and a rescue parent.

Hazel & Trusty Canine Teddy said...

Now that's two arms' full of furry cuteness! Glad to hear that Scruffy may already have a forever home!

Here's to better days ahead for Scruffy and to continued bliss for you, Atticus & Will!

Hazel & Teddy

Tina L said...

I printed this blog, bringing it to work with me tomorrow to share this story with Following Atticus readers--my donation will be in the mail tomorrow.

Oh, and the person or persons who did this to Scruffy, will get what is deserved....karma is a wonderful thing.

Tina L.

Pam Hicks said...

Once again, thank you Tom for being exactly who you are,& a special shout out to all the fabulous people who are helping Scruffy. This may not be the right place, but somehow I would like to ask like minded people their ideas for choosing an enduring (like hopefully around 30+ years from now), well run organization where most of the money goes to the animals (& not the administrators) to list as the recipient(s) of my estate. I have been thinking about this a lot lately - I want to leave whatever I have, when the time comes, to caring for animals.

Bev A said...

Thank you Tom for making the trip in person, and including us...not expected but I was truly delighted to see this post and picture of the one eyed man and furry friends...

WendiM said...

Pamela Hicks - Look into Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT. They do amazing work. What a great thing for you to do... hopefully far far in the future.