We wanted to take a second to give everyone a quick update. As you know, if you follow Safe in Austin, our girl Angel was attacked last Thursday, but we still don’t know by what. It could have been coyotes, stray dogs, or even a mountain lion coming down from the Balconies Canyon Lands. None of it makes sense to us, and now all I can think about was how badly I wish our other dogs would have been out to help her.
When we got home Angel was in our driveway, and the chain on our front gate was stretched out to the max pushing out of our property. Whether that is where her attacker came in or left, we will obviously never know. But dogs (and even a goat) have been dumped on or near our property before. We have had a rash of people lately trying to get us to take in their dogs and getting rather ugly when we've tried to explain that we don't yet have the facilities completed that will allow us to safely care for more animals. And we have also had some random cars and trucks driving through our property without stopping.
Although we had no reason to think this this was necessary before this tragedy, we will now be spending money (that could have gone to better uses) on an actual locking gate and cameras to eliminate the possibility of people coming on our property without our permission or dumping dogs or other animals here.
However, Angel didn’t die from a few puncture wounds. Although her injuries were not insignificant, they were just on the surface. We rescue dogs all the time with much worse injuries than hers. Unfortunately, it appears that Angel had some underlying physical problems that we were unaware of. It looks like Angel died of a stroke, maybe even a series of strokes. We had noticed some off behavior recently, but never would have imagined something like this. She has been to the vet multiple times over the last few months, and they never saw any indication either. But we now think she was having physical problems for the last few weeks, or even longer, but she fought through her condition for as long as she could. I believe in my heart that she knew her boy Jackson was going to be ok, and she got us as far as she felt she needed to before letting go.
Thank you so much to everyone who has stepped up to help my family in this difficult time. I can’t tell you how much it means to us. Angel was much more than a dog to me and to my family. She was my child, my friend, my helper, my Jackson expert, and one of my greatest gifts. What she did for my son could never be repaid, and how she changed our lives could never have been predicted. Bringing Angel into our family was similar (by way of cost and anticipation) to adopting a child. What she did in the way of healing Jackson’s heart, taking away his fears, and building his self-confidence was absolutely miraculous.
I’ve lost many dogs and animals over the years. I rescue and that is part of the gig. My heart is always shattered and they have all absolutely been family members, but this is not the same. For the last six years I have been almost nowhere without her. Jackson barely remembers life without her. How could he? Before her, he was scared and hiding in the dark. She brought him into the light. No other being, beyond David, has impacted, influenced, and added protection over my life than her. Angel is the entire reason we have a nonprofit that rescues animals and helps children. She inspired all of it and I’m trying to find my footing on how to do it without her. No one will ever stop us out in public to ask about her again. I won’t end up in tears with my arms around a mom, or aunt, or grandma in the middle of the store after sharing what she did for our family and what an autism service dog could possibly do for theirs. Going to the movies, or dinner, or a theme park, or a picnic, to the grocery store, to an event downtown ... she’s always been there. The kids have always written their school papers about her. Every time a new animal comes to the rescue she was always there to greet them. Every single time I speak anywhere, either at our rescue or out and about, she has always been with me as the example of a hero who changed so many lives. None of us can imagine riding in the car without her, never feeling her under the table at our feet in a restaurant again, or not being able to snuggle into all the crazy soft white fur after a long hard day.
I guess my point is that we are all a little lost right now. Some of you may have noticed that a few of my dear friends are taking over social media and emails for a couple of days while we regroup. We think Jackson will be struggling with this for a while. Right now, he has completely shut himself off from all of it. He hasn’t cried and doesn’t want to talk about Angel at all. We have arranged for professional help so that we can help him with his grieving process.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from all of you that follow our crazy lives here at Safe in Austin. It is heartbreaking to think that we must now go on without our precious Angel, but we still have more lives to save and more hearts to heal--we just have to heal our own hearts for a little while first.
-Jamie and David