From: Sara Whalen

Sara Whalen passed away earlier this year. We had known each other for a long time. She ran a rescue shelter for “all creatures great and small” in Middletown NY. She had many stories to tell and she herself has already become folklore. This is one of the many stories this compassionate and passionate animal rescuer wrote me about.

From: Sara Whalen
Date: June 4, 2005 3:40:45 PM EDT
Subject: Scruffy

On May 4, 1991 I appeared in the Town of Hempstead Court along with Marilyn Mason attorney and Peter Borschelt, an animal behaviorist to plead for the life of a female chow chow. She was labeled ‘the most vicious dog’ the shelter had ever captured and had been ordered to be killed as soon as her puppies were weaned. They captured her the day before she whelped her mixed breed litter and she snapped at them. At the shelter she had three puppies, two of whom died after being hosed down by the cleaning staff. One, a young male with a deformed foot was still alive (but wet and bedraggled) two weeks later when we three went to court. His mom defended him with her life and picked him up in her mouth when they hosed the kennel, trying desperately to keep him from drowning.

The Judge heard our pleas in a courtroom session that brought dozens of shelter employees who testified to her terrible temperament. We three testified that a mother has to resort to whatever is necessary to protect her young. The Judge was sympathetic but concerned about where the chow could possibly be placed if her life were spared. At that moment I made a decision that I am so very thankful I made. I offered to bring her back to Pets Alive and try to rehabilitate her.

Today I lost Scruffy after 14 years. She was a fascinating friend who never gave me a minute’s problem, never had an ‘attitude’ with those she loved and got along with all creatures great and small. She was the best listener I have ever known. To the end she was a lady, brave and kind and as she left me she sighed her contented sigh so that I would know she was peaceful.
I know she is with me but the loss is not bearable at the moment. I have no one to go home to but I have to go home to care for her friends, Maxx (Rose’s godson), Mikey, Prince, Shiloh, Oreo, Baby and Maddie. They will all notice that she is gone and I am sure the house will be quiet tonight.

Because I need to smile I will remember how frightened Adam was of her and I will remember too that she finally bit him last year with her ‘old lady teeth’ when he raised his voice to me once too often. That ‘bite’ was the only ‘vicious’ act she ever committed.

She has two good friends waiting for her in her new space – I am sure that Jake and Waldo have made her comfortable.

You are all my good friends and I am sorry if I depressed you but I need to share my pain – it is too heavy for me to carry alone.

Thank you for being my friends.