I admit that I’ve been feeling overly emotional for the better part of the last few weeks and although Marley’s official adoption was impactful it was also almost anticlimactic since this was the goal we had been working toward and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone to have let it drag out. Also recently the Vicktory Dogs have been in the media feeds a lot. It was recently the anniversary of their confiscation from the chains that bound them at the house on Moonlight Road and to commemorate that a private mass tree planting ceremony took place on those grounds. The photos from that day evoke a sense of hurt and healing that I can’t even fathom feeling.
Also this week The Champions was released on Netflix and of course I had to watch it. While I expected to feel a sense of sadness and certainly renewed outrage over what these dogs had been through, I surprisingly felt much less of both than I expected. While I hesitate to use the phrase because of all of the stalker-y connotations, I feel like a Superfan of these dogs. I haven’t exactly followed their story from the beginning but after having read this article, I can honestly say my mission and the course of my life have been dramatically and irrevocably altered. I follow every known Facebook page of the former V dogs and can probably recount snippets of information that should have long sunk in the depths of memory. I also have a small collection of pawtographed prints and other items from past auctions that I still haven’t found the proper place to display and toy often with the idea of donating them back. But I digress. Viewing The Champions with my own Ray-Ray snuggled at my side felt more like watching home movies of people and dogs that I’ve come to love and admire. “Oh, look Ray, that’s Georgia! Oh look! Lucas’s picture! Look there’s Meryl! Oh that’s Donna Reynolds talking. Aw, look, it’s Jewels!” Yes, some of it was heartbreaking to watch but it really was so well done.
It also came to my attention that today is the first anniversary of the passing of Ray the Vicktory dog. Ah, the little brown dog. For several years I had had it in my mind to visit the Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah and hopefully meet a Vicktory dog. It was they who inspired me and without their story I most likely wouldn’t be an adopter, foster, advocate, protector, defender, dog mama, volunteer, rescuer, or any other tag that might fit and because of that I wanted to just meet them, see them, pay tribute to the way in which the direction of my life changed because of them. When Lucas passed away I snapped out of my want to-wish to-hope to phase and sprang into action planning our trip as 2007 was fast fading and these dogs weren’t getting any younger.
Remember those snippets? I knew that Ray and his mama went to get the mail everyday at Angel’s Café, so I made sure Kevin and I were parked outside as early as possible after our volunteer shift and we waited in our rental car for the pair to arrive. Arrive they did and I watched, petrified, as they disappeared into the building and sat fidgeting as they were inside and then sat again terrified as I said, “There they go.” Kevin immediately told me to get out of the car and I sprang into action by flinging open the door, dropping my camera in the red dust and falling out of the car causing the pair to stop and stare at me in shocked silence departing the car in a calm manner and asking if that was, in fact, Ray. Jacque was very nice and as we gently stroked Ray’s back and ears we chatted about Ray’s small size and the smallness in general of all of the V dogs. I was struck by the normality of Ray. He was a quiet little dog who leaned against me as I stroked his soft hair and absorbed the attention. He wasn’t standing there as One Of The Dogs Who Changed The Lives Of Many Former Fighting Dogs, he was just Ray in the sunshine. We were invited to come back to Parrots and pick Ray up for a car ride which was both thrilling and terrifying in the responsibility of transporting this dog but in the end, we didn’t wreck the car at the 5 miles per hour rate of speed, we didn’t get lost and returned him in one piece.
There’s no special point to this post exactly, just a bit of melancholy and a bit of reminiscing and a need to relive that day in my mind.