This is Merci’s story..

The First Time I Saw Merci | July, 2003

July 2003, it was a hot day in downtown Memphis .. I received a phone call about a pit bull that needed help.  The phone call was from a deputy sheriff (Gina) who worked across the street from where I work.  The deputy asked me to take this female pit that her brother Chip had “rescued.”  The dog was a starving stray that had just given birth to puppies; no one had a clue where the puppies were.  The dog’s hair was falling out and she was severely malnourished.  Gina offered to pay for all of the medical bills for this adult dog (she looked like a puppy) if I would just take the dog and help her brother out… She said that Chip had looked for a home for the female but could not find anyone that wanted her. Gina gave me her brother’s phone number.  I never spoke to Gina again after that day but that deputy and her phone call changed my soul’s journey.

Two Weeks After Arriving in Foster Home

About 2 hours later, I called Chip.  Chip explained the story of how he came to find this near dead pit bull.  The dog was walking down a sidewalk, weaving from side to side, moments from collapsing.  Chip took her into his backyard and put her on a chain.  He had been feeding her for about two weeks, all the while looking for a home for her, with no luck. Chip sounded very sad when he said “She don’t have no ears.  They cut her ears off.  And they have been fighting her.”  My heart sank to my knees.  I decided to get off of the telephone so I could think about this “dog with no ears.”  I did not want to commit myself too soon.  I am quick to make decisions and not always the best ones.

About two hours later I called Chip again and told him to take the dog to my vet’s office and leave her there.  I called Berclair Animal Hospital to let the receptionist know that the dog was on her way.

I am ashamed to even admit this but when I arrived at the vet’s office and took one look at this dog with no ears, I was determined NOT to take her to my house.  I feared she would kill all of my dogs.  It was obvious to me that she was a fighting dog.  Having only been in pit rescue for a short time, I had no experience with fighting dogs and believed everything I had ever heard about them….can’t rehab them…dangerous to all animals….blah blah blah….NO ma’am, I was not taking this dog in as my foster.  But……. then I called her “baby” and she wagged her tail so sweetly and gently…….and….bam, that was it.  I knew I was in trouble!!

Ready to Leave the Past Behind

She was a wreck of a dog.  She had coccidia, whip worms, round worms, tape worms, systemic demodex (mange), and staph infection secondary to the mange.  Dr. Snow was very surprised that she didn’t have heartworms, too.

Her ears were “warrior cut” and were so full of dirt I had to clean them over a two-week period. The dirt was packed in her ears and had set up like concrete.  She had approximately 25 fresh puncture wounds, the bright red blood a reminder of the cruelty of man.  Two of her feet had deep gashes. She had many old, healed puncture wounds.  Several of her teeth were missing, including one canine.  In her two short years of life, this sweet girl had weathered many many storms.

I Finished the Weeding, Mom!

Her stomach was literally dragging the ground; she had given birth more than once in her short life. She was fought after she gave birth and considering the weakened condition of her body, I am sure she lost the fight or gave up, and was soon after dumped on the side of the road.

Dr. Snow didn’t think she’d live but he tried to give me some hope.  I remember vividly his words, “You’ve got one sick dog there … but ya’ can’t tell about these dogs … she might live … they’ve got true grit!”  I answered, “Yes sir … they do.”

Well let me introduce you to **Merci**……. she is alive and well. She is high spirited, has absolutely no fear issues and is one of the finest animals I have ever known.

Her best buddy was Eva, my senior pit bull that I raised from the age of three weeks.  Eva and Merci were inseparable.  They slept together every night and there was never a cross word between them.  I took Merci with me to the emergency room the night I euthanized Eva…due to lung cancer; I just knew having Merci there would comfort Eva.  I hope I was right.  We didn’t say goodbye to Eva; we said “So long.  We will meet again!”

Merci is Enjoying Life

Merci is my temperament tester. I watch her body language, especially her eyes and without fail, she lets me know what to expect from each new foster dog.  She is the expert and I value her input, especially when it comes to the toddlers.  She will let me know which puppies need the most work as far as socializing with other dogs.  She has never let me down; she is always right on the money. Because she was a fighting dog, I have to monitor her play with adult dogs… to keep things from escalating.

Ready to Go Jogging, Mom!

She is part cat, part ballerina, and part acrobat!!!  A champion athlete…she can jump, spin, leap, scoot, and run with unbelievable grace and speed.  She puts 100% into everything she does!  No doubt about it, she would make a fine agility champion, except for the strange dogs.  She is tolerant of dogs in my home but does not trust strange dogs at all.

She likes to landscape and also enjoys hunting. She routinely deposits critters outside the door – snakes, birds, moles, squirrels.

Merci is a true Southern belle.  And because she had never known any mercy in her life, I decided she would have it forever …. as her name.

Because Merci has learned to associate the dogs (in our home) with “good things,” she has become quite tolerant of the other dogs.  She has some close friends here but some pack members she keeps at the acquaintance level.  Merci takes the responsibility of raising the foster puppies with pride and she has turned out some excellent juveniles, who went on to forever homes, and were dog friendly, and remain so to this day. It is fascinating to watch her love, correct and prune her little students.

Merci is just an amazing animal.  She is my friend and my rescue partner.  She is my motivation and the drive that keeps me going when I want to give up, delete my website, and sit down!!

Merci | Novemer, 2010

Sunday, February 13, 2011, 8:54 AM

Merci was my second rescue when I started Hearts of Gold.  It was love at first sight.  Everyone that met her instantly loved her.  She taught me soooooooo much about pit bulls, and so much about myself and life.

She lived six weeks after being diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma.  She had five good weeks.  She ran with her pack and played in the snow.  On week six, the cancer started destroying her red blood cells.  We tried steroids but they stopped working.  Big hugs go to the vets at Berclair Animal Hospital, the staff at the Animal Emergency Center, and animal communicator and spiritual healer Joanna Seere for all each one of them did to give her quality of life in the last weeks.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would never never give up the fight and that I would have to free her.  I knew there would be a lot of suffering before the end; it was coming quickly.

In the last six weeks, she remained strong spirited.  She was still walking, wagging her tail and kissing to the very end, and she died exactly the way she lived, with dignity and honor.

There will never be another Merci, my little game girl from South Memphis.  She was that one in a lifetime friend.  Run free Merci….. until we meet again!

Merci | February 8, 2011

By Donna Velez, Founder – Hearts of Gold Pit Rescue