Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Friday, January 13, 2012

Love Song to Sweet Baby Ray

Working and volunteering for animal rescue and welfare organizations, I meet a lot of animals, particularly dogs. Virtually all of them are nice, highly adoptable animals, destined to make some lucky people great canine companions.

But every once in a while there’s a dog that has that “something extra”…at least as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s the way they cock their head or a certain look in their eyes or the cute way they place their paw on my hand; whatever the reason, these special canines just strike a special chord in me. I find myself caring deeply about their future. And if circumstances allowed, I’d readily welcome any one of them as permanent members of our “pack.”

Take Sweet Baby Ray, for example. This 5-year-old treeing Walker coonhound is one of 10 hunting dogs rescued from a rural property in Virginia during an investigation into illegal moonshine production and placed into the care of the Washington Animal Rescue League.

Like his canine companions, Baby Ray bears the physical and psychological scars of an unsocialized, neglectful life. The edges of his ears are rough and ragged, he’s missing a couple of teeth, his muzzle and paws are scarred from running through brush. He’s timid and uncertain about the world around him; ascending and descending a flight of stairs yesterday took a fair bit of gentle but enthusiastic encouragement…probably because he’d never seen stairs before. He doesn’t understand toys; no surprise since he’s probably never had one before.

But in my eyes, Baby Ray is beautiful.

Those big, brindled, raggedy ears are soft as velvet, and as I stroke them, he tilts his head back and turns his big brown eyes—eyes that can look surprised, interested, or soulful—upward in an expression of quiet ecstasy. A scratch along his back elicits a similar pose as he stands completely still…as if afraid to break the spell of pleasure. And when I sit or lie on the floor and encourage him, he curls his long-legged body like a corkscrew, head downward, until he rolls onto his side for a tummy rub and places a scarred paw gently on my arm.

Like I said, beautiful, both inside and out.

I’m not quite sure why Sweet Baby Ray has not yet been adopted. All that means, however, is that you still have a chance to make this special boy your very own canine companion. Come meet him at the Washington Animal Rescue League.

Update: Sweet Baby Ray was adopted on 1/20/12!

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