by Bridget Byrne
This story starts like many stories, ”It was a dark
and stormy night…..” when the campers visiting
a campground in the Ozarks first saw Jubal and her traveling
Rook. As the wind wailed through the trees the rain pounded
on their tents they could see during lightening flashes two
dogs huddled together under a nearby tree doing their best
to escape the storm’s fury.
It wasn’t until
the next day that they met these two wanderers. The male, Rook
was a big gangly puppy, and the female Jubal was
much smaller and appeared to have recently had some pups. Both
were so covered with ticks that when the campers patted their
heads ticks would fall off in handfuls. The dogs were friendly
but very fearful of being shooed away or worse. The campers checked
around and found out that the dogs had previously been owned
by a farmer who had died six months previous and had left seven
dogs behind that were foraging for themselves. These two appeared
to be the survivors but just barely.
must have survived on what they could forage from garbage containers
and generous campers. From their startle responses, not all
their encounters with humans had been positive. But they eagerly
accepted the bits of potato chips and cookies the campers had
to offer both having rib cages where you could see each rib
sticking painfully out of their sides.
The next day the kind people could not bear to leave the dogs
behind so drove them back to Kansas City. The dogs were terrified,
obviously never having ridden in a vehicle before but clung to
their rescuers, seeming to trust that these kind people would
do their best.
They were taken to a kennel that was willing to board rescued
dogs and were housed together in a pen outside. Whenever someone
would approach, Jubal would pull back still wagging her tail
but not daring to look people in the eye. Rook would walk between
Jubal and in a very good-natured way block anyone from coming
too near. When taken inside to be given veterinary care, both
dogs once again panicked. Their paws had never touched carpeting
or a tile floor and both were sure that the baths they were given
were a prelude to drowning.
A member of the local Border collie rescue group came to see
the dogs at the staff of the kennels persistent requests. It
was obvious that neither of the dogs were pure Border collie
and the limited resources of the organization had been directed
towards purebreds and taking one dog at a time rather than two.
However, going into the pen with the two dogs she saw in both
gentle spirits whose trust in humans deserved to be honored.
After being neutered
and spayed both dogs went home with her to be fostered by her.
At first afraid to go in the house the two soon learned the
of dogs that sleep indoors although Jubal still made nest outside
under the bushes “just in case.” She proved to an
incrediblely sweet dog that would move by your side and gently
place a paw on your lap delicately requesting a hand on her back.
But she never played. Despite the lure of Rook who would awkwardly
chase a ball and the other two dogs who lived in her foster moms
house she would only soberly watch them. We wondered at her age
thinking perhaps she was older than we first thought. The vet
wasn’t able to tell us how old the puppies might have been
when she left them and we fretted about there being abandoned
puppies in the Ozarks.
Jubal had gained weight and was house broken. We noticed that
she had a very
unique set of vocalizations that she and
Rook communicated to one another. It seemed a bit like Basenji
talk but the interesting thing was that Rook seemed to be using
a second language when he spoke to Jubal but to Jubal it seemed
normal. And it seemed to be as though she was singing. We placed
them on the website. Rook was soon adopted and another couple
adopted Jubal. She left a quiet, affectionate dog that seemed
to get along with everyone. So it seemed we had another happy
ending to tell about Jubal. There was something about her leaving
that disturbed her foster mom though…something just wasn’t
The following day,
which was the 4th of July, we received a confusing and panicked
call from Jubal’s new people telling
us she was in labor. This couldn’t be…she had been
spayed a few weeks prior! But after the first puppy was born,
well, how can you argue with that?! Amidst the fireworks and
in labor Jubal quickly and happily returned to her foster home.
Relieved she ran to
her old kennel and gave birth to her last baby. We frantically
began calling anyone who might know about
puppies. Being confirmed “spay and neuter” people,
there was little personal experience of this tiny miracle. All
the puppies were born alive despite their mother’s being
antheized for her “spay” surgery. We named them Ben,
Spirit, Paul Revere, Liberty and Belle, just seemed appropriate
for the day! It seems the vet thought he saw signs of an earlier
spay and had not in fact spayed Jubal. What we believed had been
evidence of giving birth to an earlier litter was in fact a prelude
to her having puppies. Again our inexperience with unaltered
pets had fooled us and apparently fooled a couple of vets as
well! We also learned that Jubal was much younger than her serious
demeanor suggested, probably less than a year old in fact.
turned out to be a near perfect mother. She was very attentive
to her pups and seemed to want to be sure that they caused no
problems for her foster mother. She even cleaned up outside after
her pups when they were old enough to spend part of their time
outdoors. But she never sang during this time taking her responsibilities
quite seriously. As her pups got older she completed her final
duty as their mother. That was to teach each of her puppies to
be polite and deferential to older dogs. She relentlessly pursued
each of her pups. Always good-natured, she was still determined.
She ignored their squeals of protest as well as their efforts
to hide and each was taught to lie on its back when an older
dog approached. Once they demonstrated that they understood the
lesson she let them go. But she remembered from one day to the
next who she had not yet taught. The last pup born, Belle, eluded
Jubal for as long as she could but finally Jubal caught her too,
by lifting her by the back leg from under a coffee table!
Meanwhile in a small town in the Nebraska Panhandle, the Rader
family sadly lost their Border collie mix, Boq, suddenly of Pancreatitis.
Boq had been with them for twelve years and had helped the family
through another tragedy-the death of their seventeen year old
daughter, Samantha, the summer before in a tragic boating accident.
Samantha had been the only girl in the family and had been special
to all who knew her. She was a beautiful young woman who had
been like a second mother to her two youngest brothers James
and Matthew and a strong-willed and vibrant presence wherever
she was. Her sense of fun and thirst to enjoy life created a
spark where ever she went. Her protectiveness towards those she
loved or who seemed vulnerable reminded those around her of an
avenging Greek princess. Yet when she nurtured, she was extraordinarily
kind and gentle.
To make their burden greater Debby had lost her mother the year
before. Debby and Terry had done a miraculous job in pulling
themselves and their four remaining children Shawn, Michael,
James, and Matthew through the darkest days of mourning. Their
community had opened its arms and surrounded them with love and
empathy. Yet the fun and joy was still missing in their lives
and the loss of their beloved dog Boq seemed to only be another
stop on a long and sad journey.
pups were raised she traveled to Nebraska to join the Rader
family and their two cats Bob and Tar. Jubal
fit in immediately and began to allow herself to be the puppy
she really was. She chased balls, convinced the cats she was
no threat and actually was occasionally even naughty (Jubal?!).
She seemed to make her own assessment of what everyone in the
family needed. She covered James and Matthew with kisses if they
had a skinned knee and played with them whenever she could. She
and Debby developed their own relationship and Jubal once again
began to sing. This time she sang primarily for Debby whenever
she had been away from home at work etc.
At first afraid of
men she shied away from Terry who has a loud boisterous voice
but loves animals. Jubal taught Terry to speak
and move more gently and she seemed to accept Michael for whatever
he offered. Jubal loves company and greets everyone with unbridled
joy when they come to her house. If left uncrated at night she “visits” every
member of the family, checking on them like a mother hen.
So this small frightened
dog from the Ozarks who “depended
on the kindness of strangers” has found her calling and
the Raders say that what they needed in their lives was “a
Debby says of Jubal: “She fills some of the places Samantha
left. She is nurturer to Mathew and James and a combination of
friend and daughter to me. We share the female experience even
though she is “just a dog” I feel that we commune
on a level that transcends species.” To Terry, she is a
little girl whose trust is not easily won but it’s worth
pursuing. To Michael, she is someone who loves him just because.
She has come to help us heal and to challenge us with her sly
ways, the little minx. Today, James said that Jubal reminds him
of Samantha and he is right.”
Every night James, in his prayers, thanks God for Jubal.
It is an open secret among those who take in rescued dogs that
those dogs often become the rescuers. Jubal has left a bit of
her gentle and healing spirit with all who have known her and
we are all grateful for Jubal. She is finally home and can sing