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Some outcomes hurt. With a heavy heart, we announce the death of Manny, a two-year-old-ish Rez Dog, resident of a waste area behind a construction site in St. Michaels, AZ. Manny died on July 6, 2016, following successful surgery to repair injuries sustained during a holiday weekend hit-and-run. Those that knew him loved him, and we hope the choice to not wake up from anesthesia was his to make.
Little is known about Manny’s early life. He was likely born in St. Michaels but could have easily been dumped there or conjured out of Rez Magic during 2014. His first success on the social scene happened early that summer when, after much sniffing, he was accepted into the Basha’s Dumpster Pack. At six months of age, he was the third youngest male to accept that honor since the pack was established in 1984.
Arthur, a ChinPin Rez Dog from Kayenta, associated with the Dumpster Pack while Manny was a member. He recalls, “Manny showed up alone one day, whip-smart but barely past weaning. Some dog already taught him the basics because he ate bees without getting stung and could damn near catch a rabbit even then. He caught some disease but came out of it eventually. Since he wasn’t a jerk, contributed resources and had a strong constitution, we didn’t kill him or chase him away. Good guy. Sad to know he’s gone.”
As he aged, exposure to the wider world of the pack enabled Manny to develop a range of skills needed for survival. As with all new pack members, he first worked to improve his scavenging and begging. He proved himself a quick learner with innovative ideas. Manny organized the first Swap Meet Feast in early 2015 – a cultural touchstone cherished by Rez Dogs to this day. The success of the Feast gained him promotion up the pack hierarchy where he learned a new survival strategy – outright thievery. Delivery trucks, ice chests and ice cream cones in the hands of small humans all became fair game. This has been proven to be a lucrative but dangerous path for many Rez Dogs and the result was no different for Manny. He thrived for almost a year before suffering a devastating heist-gone-bad.
Nobody knows what went wrong. Manny and a buddy left the pack one night to hunt domestic chickens and only Manny returned. He dragged himself into a culvert and tried to heal by lying perfectly still for three straight days. As Manny liked to say, “Real Rez Dogs can take a punch.” He proved he was a real Rez Dog by surviving his injuries and a smart one by choosing a new career. Manny quickly became an accomplished beggar. But he lost a step that night, and that step may have cost him everything.
Manny recently moved into the open area behind a construction site in St. Michaels with his new running buddy of four months. A strip mall (representing garbage, i.e. food) across the street and an adjacent small housing development dense with plants that need water regularly (water source) provided all the resources they’d need. As they settled into their new spot, the guys from the construction crew would watch them romp and play in the brush, envious. As a beggar, Manny knew to cultivate relationships with envious humans and the crew began to think of Manny and his buddy as integral parts of the jobsite.
But remember, Manny had lost a step. Traffic had not. The guys from the crew came to work on July 1, to find Manny had been hit by a car. He was laying half in the street, half in the gutter – unable to move. They picked him up, carried him to a shady spot under a tree and set him up as best they could. They brought him food and watered him from a gallon water jug sliced to size. For those that worry about the state of humanity, note that a sun-tough group of Arizona construction workers took ownership of a hurt and abandoned dog without a second’s thought. They showed heart. They gave Manny a fighting chance. But their patient didn’t move for two days and hope turned to worry. Something more needed to be done.
The crew talked to their wives and one of the wives facilitated the rescue. On July 3, Manny was moved from the jobsite to a foster home two hours away. He was fed, watered, lightly drugged and placed on a nest of pee pads where he proceeded to urinate for longer than I thought possible for any mammal. I’d like to think Manny let loose because he finally felt rescued and able to relax. Maybe it was the cool indoor air that did it, or perhaps he just couldn’t hold it anymore. It doesn’t matter. What counts is that Manny had made it to foster and he now had an even (better) chance of surviving. Morale rose.
The amateur prognosis was that Manny broke both legs or/and his pelvis. We kept him comfortable, rotated him every few hours to avoid pressure sores and gave him more human affection that he’d ever enjoyed. Manny proved to be an inveterate tail wager and a hand-licker of Olympic skill. His positive response to basic care caused hope to rise again but the amateur prognosis was still terrible. The x-rays would determine how Manny’s story ended.
Dr. Cook knows Rez Dogs and the next day he examined Manny and speculated that he’d suffered a broken tibia and dislocated hip socket on the opposite side. X-rays proved Dr. Cook correct. If you’d heard Manny cry when he was turned, you wouldn’t have thought this Rez Dog had a chance. Dr. Cook’s prognosis was great news and relieved the strain that accumulated as we worried about a really, really cool but really, really sick rez dog. This was fixable. Surgery was scheduled for the next day. Plans were made for foster care and rehab. The people rejoiced.
Manny died without waking from anesthesia. Godspeed, Manny. You touched hearts and you’ll be missed by a construction crew, their wives, a few rescuers and people who read through to the end of this blog (or simply liked your picture and didn’t read a word.) That’s a not-bad legacy. Better than most.
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