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League’s Work with Vick Dogs Featured in New Book
September 24, 2010
An excerpt from The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, by Jim Gorant:
“Maureen Henry, a technician at the Washington Animal Rescue League, found herself standing in a McDonald’s. The guy behind the counter gave her a strange look. It was 7:00 a.m. on Christmas morning and she wanted eleven Sausage McMuffins…
She took her bag of snacks to WARL, unlocked the main door, walked through the empty lobby, through the double glass doors, and into the shelter area. She unlocked the door that separated the Vick dogs from the rest of the kennel. Many of them hopped to their feet, rising to the fronts of their kennels, wagging for attention.
The pack of dogs they had nicknamed the unicorns [ Editor’s note: A federal gag order forbid staff from saying anything about the dogs to anyone.] would be leaving soon and much to their surprise, the people who worked at WARL were sad about it. Over the weeks the two groups—humans and animals—had bonded and the group of dogs that had arrived as anonymous fighting machines were now individual creatures with names and personalities.
In many ways the dogs were easier to handle than regular kennel dogs. There was something about them that was more forgiving, more willing. It was these qualities and their unending resilience that touched the WARL staff so deeply. The Vick dogs reminded them in a more extreme way of everything people love about dogs to begin with.
The dogs’ growth was easy to see, but Henry thought that maybe the people had changed more than the dogs. Though she and her colleagues had started out with one set of expectations, they came to see a far different reality. Maybe calling the dogs unicorns had actually been more profound than they originally thought. Maybe there really was an element of magic to them.
She unwrapped the McMuffins and put one in each kennel, then stood back and watched the dogs approach their Christmas treat. She couldn’t believe what she saw. A few chomped right into it, but most carefully sniffed and nosed at the food. The dogs pushed the sandwiches around until they came apart. Many ate the sausage. Some ate only the muffin. Nearly all picked at it. Eight weeks earlier every dog on the line would have devoured their sandwich in two bites.
Henry reassessed. Okay, the dogs had changed too. They weren’t unicorns, after all, just dogs who had become a little pampered and picky, and that was pleasant enough to consider. A week later they were gone.”