Remembering Rufus

Posted Apr 13, 2023
You'd think that after so many years at the RSPCA, you become accustomed to the incredible lows, the cruelty, the neglect. You'd think you get a thicker skin, you don't.
Today really hit home for me. 

My usual role means I'm a busy beaver behind a computer screen, it's almost somewhat a buffer to the harsh reality our Inspectors, Animal Rescue team, intake and vets see first hand every day. I honestly don't know how they do it without turning into the Hulk or a blubbering mess!

I've been on the road before with Inspectors documenting evidence, and we are there to help take photos for media call outs as well. But today was different.

It was the first time I saw an emaciated dog. I've seen skinny dogs, ones with awful skin conditions, ones with battle scars, but this was another level again. Just when you think, you've seen it all!

I heard the vets saying "a body score of one". You only had to look at this poor bag of bones, too weak to stand, to know the outcome may not be a good one. I choked. You'd think that even with the heads up that a dog is in "a very bad state", you can anticipate what you're about to see. My heart broke. My blood boiled. I saw red, I felt empathy, I felt helpless. 

Despite how bad this dog's condition, despite what discomfort or hunger he must have felt, he still managed to show a glimmer of recognition when we smiled at him... The smallest of tail wags. 

That night and most of the next day I couldn't stop thinking about the emaciated dog and hoping he would slowly get better and eventually find a home that loved and cherished him. 

Then the gutting news came that this poor, unloved, nameless dog had lost his fight. He had renal failure, severe muscle wastage, hookworm and wasn't eating. 

I cried. I knew that dog for all of a few minutes of one day but he had touched my heart. That little tail wag, the tired and longing look in his piercing green eyes... that is how I will always remember him. But he wasn't going to leave this world nameless! We called him Rufus, to give him some form of send off to a better life. At least we hope in his final days in our care, he knew he was finally loved.

And now the task ahead is to find justice for Rufus. To learn just how he came to be in such an awful state, and how he could be left by someone to get to the point of no return.

Rest now Rufus. No more pain. 

Emma Lagoon
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