The little body in the cage was as rigid as cement. She had been spotted on the road and pursued for several blocks by a lady who was determined to rescue her, and having been eventually trapped, it seemed her defense mechanism was simply to freeze.
I had to pull quite hard to get her out of the cage, but once out and wrapped in my arms she clung on to me for dear life, so I didn’t attempt to put her on the ground. We just sat, she on my lap, her nails holding on tight to my knees, and me rubbing her head and mumbling softly to her. After a while she relaxed her hold on me, laid her head down and permitted herself a big sigh, but every time another person came by, especially if it were a man, she would seize up again. Management suspected the worst kind of abuse, and there was talk of putting her down because there would be no recovery. I became fiercely protective, as I was certain I could bring her back.
For a couple of days we just sat, and as I felt her a little more at ease I started trying to cut away some of the fur grown over her face, so she could see, and to my surprise she let me. Then gradually I began snipping at the matts all along her body. She allowed me to do this, and even let me lay her on her side, and from this vantage point I could trim all down one flank, and then the other. But she wouldn’t let me turn her over, or put her on the floor. So I continued trimming down the sides of her body and her legs, till they were looking pretty good, and then in one swift movement, without her realizing what was happening, I set her on all fours and burst out laughing, because I had given her a mohawk. There was a ridge of hair sticking up right down her spine, where the side-snipping hadn’t quite reached the middle. She didn’t object to me straightening it up, and by that time she had realized that she was standing on the ground and it wasn’t too bad, so we took a little walk, which ended fairly quickly with her two front legs up on my knee and a look of panic on her face.
The good thing about all the trimming, though, was that I discovered a wound behind one ear, which initially appeared to be a little knot of fur, but turned out to be quite a deep hole, which thank goodness had not yet filled with maggots, so I was able to have it treated right away.
Most dogs when taken out of their cages struggle to be put on the ground and take off running, but Jasmine never did that. She was now quite happy to come out of the cage, but she would put her two front paws around my neck and her two back legs around my waist, and hold on for dear life. It still took her several more days of walking, each day for a little longer, to feel safe on the ground, and then she began to enjoy herself among the banana trees. She liked the rustle of the dead leaves as she shuffled through them, and each day she gained a little more confidence, although she still looked up to me every minute or so for reassurance.
Another thing I had noticed at the beginning was that, unlike everyone else who would usually pee and poop as soon as they were taken out, Jasmine did neither. I began to wonder whether there was something wrong with her, although I would occasionally find traces in her cage when I took her out, and it was a huge relief when one day she backed up to a banana tree and had a good go both ways. Thereafter she behaved quite normally in this respect; it was as if the ice had been broken, and she wasn‘t afraid any longer to do it out in the open.
The next milestone was when Jasmine actually started prancing around, looking for all the world like a little sheep, and she no longer needed to be in my lap but was content to sit beside me on the bench and look around. We would sit like this for some time and suddenly she would turn to me and lick my cheek. It was exquisite. Jasmine was coming back.
One afternoon I was rubbing between her paws, checking for ticks, and found an unusual little lump. When I took the scissors to it, with her looking on, I cleared a little knot of fur and found underneath a black hole which turned out to be the end of a half-inch long prickle, as dark as the spine of a sea urchin. How it got there I couldn’t imagine. I pulled at it and out it came and Jasmine didn’t say a word. I was so proud of her. That same afternoon, with no prodding at all, she slid down from a sitting position and lay on her back, exposing her tummy for me to stroke. Another milestone.
But she would need a very special owner, someone willing to take time with her, make no sudden movements, and continue bolstering her self-confidence, which still had a way to go. Where would I find such a person? Not far away, as it turned out.
There were two lovely young sisters who came to volunteer whenever work permitted, and they had adopted a tiny white poodle puppy who was scheduled to be put down because he was blind and deaf. They called him Mozart, took him home and taught him to find his way around the house. He blossomed. And they wanted company for him. I couldn’t have asked for a better home.
As it happened, when I saw them about a week later they said Jasmine was settling in beautifully, but wasn’t very interested in Mozart, nor he in her. Instead, she had made great friends with the family cat, and played and rolled around with her all day. What can I tell you?