Amazing Katrina survival story
I just read this story is my local paper. Talk about an amazing dog!
The Dog Rescuer
By G.D. GEARINO, Staff Writer
RALEIGH -- Enough with the Lassie-and-Timmy stories. Let's hear how it worked the other way around, for once.
Lassie, as you surely recall, was the four-footed star of the long-running TV series of the same name. Lassie, a collie, was the reliably cool hand in times of crisis, which often involved Timmy. For nearly 20 years, the formula rarely varied: Timmy or some of the show's other humans found themselves in distress, which was alleviated only when Lassie performed remarkable feats of rescue, fetched help or generally sounded the alarm.
OK, we get it. Dogs are our pals. They're loyal and reliable. They'll put themselves at risk for us. Point noted and stipulated.
Two months ago, after Hurricane Katrina turned the coastal parts of Louisiana and Mississippi into a disaster scene, a cadre of volunteers arrived with the self-assigned purpose of reversing the Lassie/Timmy dynamic. They were specialists in the rescue and care of Katrina's animal victims. One of the volunteers was Noah Lindgren, a Raleigh man.
We'll cast Lindgren in the Lassie role. Timmy will be played by Teddy, of whom we'll say more later.
First, the backstory: Lindgren attended Sanderson High School and East Carolina University in the 1990s, and eventually headed for Colorado, where he settled in Durango. He worked at a veterinary clinic, first as a kennel attendant -- which is a fancy way of saying he shoveled poop -- and later as a vet technician. He also enrolled at Fort Lewis College in Durango, from which he graduated a few months ago with an art degree. Then Lindgren headed home to Raleigh, hoping to find work.
(Teaching moment for parents of college-age children: "Art degree. No job. Coincidence?")
Lindgren rolled into Raleigh about the same moment that Katrina crashed into the coast. "I started looking at the news and seeing how bad it was," he recalls. When he realized that his veterinary experience could be useful, Lindgren contacted the Humane Society of the United States to offer his help. In short order, he was directed to Hattiesburg, Miss., where the society was operating a temporary shelter for animal storm victims.
Lindgren found 700 animals on site -- most of them Lassies, with a dozen or so Garfields and a few Mr. Eds thrown in. He also endured climate shock: "It was really hot," he says.
During the day, Lindgren helped treat traumatized animals and ready them for transport to permanent shelters. At night, he slept on a cot in a tent. When the shelter was emptied, Lindgren was sent to New Orleans -- specifically, to the now-infamous 9th Ward.
36 days alone
It was every bit as bad as the televised images made it seem. "Everything was covered with mud," Lindgren says. "It looked like a bomb had gone off."
He was assigned to a crew that spent its days in a boat, visiting the ruins of homes where animals were thought to be. It was a juvenile delinquent's dream job: The crew members kicked in doors to gain access, then spray-painted information on the exteriors to let other crews know those houses already had been searched.
Lindgren's crew averaged a dozen or so animal rescues a day. On Oct. 3, they found Teddy.
Teddy, a mix of various kinds of hound, had been locked in a ground-floor bathroom by his owner, who had then evacuated the city as the hurricane loomed. Maybe Teddy had been left some food. Maybe not. But at least he had water.
Oh, did Teddy have water. Lindgren guesses that Teddy paddled in it for days, just trying to keep from drowning. Eventually it receded, but Teddy was only marginally better off. He was still trapped in a locked room with no food.
Let's do a little math here. Katrina hit Aug. 29. Teddy was found Oct 3. That's 36 days without chow. A dog that normally weighed about 45 pounds was down to 15 pounds.
"I don't know how he survived," Lindgren says.
He appointed himself as Teddy's caretaker. The dog got fluids through an IV, and Lindgren fed him tidbits every couple of hours. Any more than that would have overwhelmed Teddy's system. After three days, Teddy could walk a few feet. Lindgren began feeding him more, and Teddy began walking more. Now, a month later, Teddy has regained 20 pounds.
He's still skinny. And he's not exactly chasing rabbits. But Teddy looks like a dog now instead of a furry skeleton.
Lindgren -- whose permanent dog, Ed, is clearly wondering how long this malnourished interloper is going to hang around -- is searching for a permanent home for Teddy. The dog's owner has moved to Atlanta and has made no effort to reclaim Teddy. Lindgren hopes someone else will step forward. But whoever that is needs to know something:
For obvious reasons, Teddy doesn't much cotton to baths these days.
Taebo -- Flashy Fawn Devil, born 12/02/02, adopted 01/10/04