August 19, 2008

After Little Dog Goes Missing, Owner Turns Eyes Skyward

By Susan Stanton

Sarah Broadway has a history of rescuing big dogs, but while visiting a pet expo this year she was drawn to the little guys. When she got home, she found herself looking at small dog rescue groups online and when she saw the photo of Priscilla, a Chihuahua-griffon mix, she couldn't resist. After the adoption had been approved, her son Noah drove to Tallahassee, where the dog was being fostered.

Priscilla had already had a rough life. She had been surrendered to the Jacksonville Animal Care and Control Division by her first owner and was adopted by someone from Georgia who turned out to be an animal hoarder. The local Humane Society was tipped off about the hoarding situation and seized the dogs. Papillion Pals, a rescue group, stepped in and took many of the small dogs, Priscilla among them.

She bonded quickly with her new family, which includes Madoc, a 1- year-old male shepherd mix, and 8-year-old Jackie, whom the Broadways refer to as a Florida brown dog. About a week after the adoption, Broadway was sitting reading in the back yard at her Pablo Point home off the Intracoastal Waterway with all three dogs, letting them get some exercise.

When she looked up, Priscilla was gone.

After contacting the rescue group and veterinary offices, she searched the neighborhood until late at night. Up at dawn the next morning, she began again. She was devastated. Not one of her other rescues had ever run away.

Sleep-deprived and stressed, she thought she was hearing things when she was in the house the next afternoon and heard a cry. The weather was lovely and the back door had been left open, so she went outside and called Priscilla's name. She was baffled when she heard a response because there was no animal in sight. Finally, she chanced to look up - possibly for divine guidance since it was Easter weekend and she was working on a project for her church - and she noticed movement high up in a large oak tree. It was Priscilla. In the week that she had lived with the family, no one heard Priscilla make a sound.

She must have ended up the proverbial tree during an especially exciting squirrel chase in the backyard with her new dog friends. Broadway's husband, Tim, quickly got a ladder and got her down. Priscilla's eventful past is behind her and everyone hopes her future will be as peaceful as possible.

- My Nikki: It is with unbearable sadness that I report that my Nikki is gone. She had slipped quite a lot in recent weeks and I had to have her put down.

The first thing I had to do when I returned from the vet's office with empty arms was throw out all of her beds. I simply couldn't stand to look at them. I gave the remaining Milk Bones and dog shampoo to a neighbor with two dogs. The void left by not adhering to the habits of our lives together, including letting her out first thing every morning and the last thing at night, have taken a lot of getting used to. The first time I used a George Foreman grill after her death, I automatically picked it up from the counter to put it on the floor so she could lick it. And it took many days to get used to the empty space on the kitchen floor where her bowls used to be. And now there's no one to greet me at the door when I return home.

More than once I thought I heard the sound of the tags that dangled from her collar, and just recently, while I was on the computer, I thought I caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Friends said that might happen. Although I've gotten much better with time, I still cry occasionally, like now as I write this. It's hard to have to live with an empty space in your home and heart.

So this is the last time you'll see that sweet old grayed face look out at you at the top of this column. Soon our staff photographer will take one of me and Grayson, the cat that adopted me last year. Although nothing could take Nikki's place, it is a comfort to have another heartbeat in the house.

- Hurricane preparedness for pets: One of the few good things that came out of from Hurricane Katrina was that the-powers-that-be finally realized that people's pets deserve shelter from the storm. Duval County and St. Johns counties now offer such facilities.

Preregistration is required for Duval County pet-friendly shelters and forms are available at the Beaches city halls as well as Jacksonville City Hall and online at Only Landmark Middle School, Mandarin Middle School and Chimney Lakes Elementary will accept pets.

St. Johns County does not require preregistration and the only pet-friendly shelter for residents of the northern part of the county is at Timberlin Creek Elementary School, which is far west, off of Greenbrier Road near County Road 210.

All pet-friendly shelters require proof of current shots and health records, food and water bowls with enough food and water for three days, a carrier with bedding, plastic bags for pet droppings, leashes, medications, toys, manual can opener for canned food, litter and a litter box if your pet is a cat. All of this and more information can be found in an excellent handbook called Hurricane Planning Guide published by Jacksonville. It covers all you need to know about hurricane preparedness for your family, including the four-footed member. I recommend reading it and doing what it says.Pets availableThese homeless pets are available for adoption from Duval County Animal Care & Control at 2580 W. First St. in Jacksonville, 387-8924:Callie (A243815) is a 21-month-old spayed female medium-haired Calico that came to the shelter in March as a stray. She weighs 4 1/2 pounds, is litter box trained and likes other cats. Visit Callie in kennel Z02. The cat adoption fee is $60, which includes spay or neutering, shots and a microchip. An annual pet license costs $15.Roxy (A253629) is a 14-month-old spayed female black and brown Rottweiler mix that came to the shelter in May when her owner lost their home. She sits and shakes hands. She has been treated for heartworm. Roxy's breed requires special approval for her adoption, which includes a phone interview, and your current pets must interact with her. Visit her in kennel AD09. The dog adoption fee is $80, which includes spay or neutering, shots and a microchip.

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