Thursday, May 7, 2009

A report on my visit with Brindi

Note: On Tuesday night (May 5, the day of Brindi's surgery) I got an email reply to my faxed request for a visit to the SPCA vice president, Kat Horne, saying I could come the next day, and I responded in time to go at 9:30 am. I was extremely happy to be allowed to see Brindi again. This is only the second visit in over nine months. At the same time a lawyer out of province advised me to sign to the SPCA's 12 conditions regulating the visit only under protest, specifically denying any implied accusations (that I pose a threat to staff). She also advised not to speak to anybody (no photography or other recording was allowed and only a lawyer may accompany me. A lawyer's presence in this instance was simply not feasible - or advisable. I feel it went well despite all that, gladly.

9:30 am to 10: 00 am, May 6, 2009, Metro Shelter, Dartmouth

On the way to the shelter, I managed to get batteries and bones and still arrive exactly on time. Lori Scolero, the animal services supervisor, and Kat Horner, the SPCA VP who replied to my email last night, were in the lobby. I said nothing but just handed them the signed protocol – to which I added Kat’s email with the permission to be inside, and the statement the lawyer wrote for me.

Next to the lobby is a bigger, newly renovated room they call the adoption center, with two couches at one end and stools and a counter at the other. They told me to go into this room and Kathy, a supervisor at the shelter (might be acting director now) brought Brindi in and unleashed her. She came to me right away, full of kisses. Scolero and Kat stayed in the lobby where they could view me through two large windows. Most of the time they didn’t look, so I had some degree of privacy, which was great.

From the surgery yesterday, Brindi’s back has three shaved patches, the biggest about 5 square inches, each centered on the incisions where they removed the cysts. One of the cuts was about two inches long. All three looked clean and uninfected, though the stitches looked a bit tight and I saw she was licking them now and then.

I played with her, hugged her, and gave her a lot of massages and practiced a few of her commands. She was very into the treats, more than before but not as bad as in January. She was still impatient though, but I was glad to see that she remembered the “bang!” command. When she spotted the treats though, she started performing all her moves, sitting, paw, and down, then rolling over, in anticipation. (I don’t give her a treat unless I give a command first, though.) She looked okay, still a bit heavy, very affectionate, lots of kisses. We hugged and talked and sat on the floor, even lay down together for a spell. I so just wanted to take her through the doors to my car. But I looked at Kat Horne and figured she’s much bigger than me and Lori would send the cops after me in a flash; I’d never make the three hour drive to PEI.

As a parting gift to distract Brindi while we separated – the toughest part – I gave her one of the meaty frozen soup bones I brought, not to big to carry in her mouth. It worked: she was a bit uncertain at first if it was really for her (she’s very polite about treats) but with encouragement she picked it up and went off with Kathy. Last time parting from her was heart-wrenching and so upsetting, when Sean Kelly (now the president) took her away. I had tried to sneak off but he walked her right into me to get past, and she strained against him with all her might to stay with me, her face showing her determination and fear.

I did speak briefly to Kathy and to Kat as I left, but only to turn over the treats, the bones, and ask Kathy to put my fuzzy jacket in Brindi’s cell. And I also said thank you to each of them, nothing more. They seemed cheerful and at ease.     

Before leaving my house I called my friend (through Brindi) Bob Riley. He was there when I arrived. I figured he would just  stay parked outside but he walked around and managed to look through the outside window at us for a while, undisturbed by Scolero, and then even went into the lobby where he could see us through a glass door. He stood a few feet from Scolero (animal services) with Kat behind the lobby counter. Neither told him to leave. He didn’t say much to them, just stood quietly and watched until I left Brindi. So I do have a witness of sorts and they did not object.

When I was leaving, Bob remarked for the others to hear, “Doesn’t look like a dangerous dog to me!”

I have not asked for another visit – yet – but I plan to soon, with the hope that they will agree, as this one went smoothly as far as I can tell.


I finally had the chance to put the St. Francis medal on her collar - the one that Linda Koekman had specially engraved for her. It was meant to be blessed and put on her by a minister or a priest, who would accompany me to ask to see her at the shelter. Linda called 16 men of the cloth; I asked the local priest and a retired police chaplain. All declined (though to his credit my local priest did offer to bless the medal, to his credit).

Since last fall I have been wearing Brindi's St. Francis medal on a chain around my neck together with my mustard seed ensconced in a bit of glass (and engraved with the St. Matthew quote). It's now with her and I pray that it will protect her from illness or any harm, always! 

Here's what it looks like. Linda added the "We love you" so that Brindi knows...