We were disheartened, and yes, broken-hearted, when Dr. Stewart working to save Lou-Sippi reported to us that our rescued virtual Poster Dog, Lou-Sippi was, in addition to suffering from the expected and devastating Hurricane-related injuries, and the predictable acute consequences of post-disaster hunger, dehydration, and isolation, also showed signs of previous, old, and habitual neglect and abuse. The sweet, valiant mixed-breed was chock full of old buck-shot, and was afflicted with a raging, chronic and life-threatening heart-worm infection -- an unmistakable sign of long-term indifference to his welfare and care. (How tragically emblematic that it would be heartworm: That this wonderful dog's loving heart was, literally, ravaged because at least some of his prior "people" seem to have been, well, heartless.)
But we were equally heartened by the response to Lou-Sippi's plight. From OUR incredibly brave, selfless and savvy action-hero search and rescue volunteers Chris Sisto and Don Kjos who went into Katrina Hell to save him and other animals that were left homeless; and to our nurturing, kind, and skilled Dr. Stewart and his staff at Academy Animal Hospital who labored so tirelessly and worked so hard to try to save Lou-Sippi, or at least to make him feel comfortable, safe, and loved. To the tireless work from Pets & Animals in Distress volunteers who have contributed to tell and get Lou-Sippi's story out to all of you-and to the animal lovers who care; and to the legions of tender-hearted and generous among you who, once armed with the information, reached out with concern, good wishes, prayers, and contributions of time and financial support to try to save his life, and to save the lives of the countless other animals like him--or, even better, to support the effort of Pets & Animals in Distress and groups like it to educate, organize, legislate, and put systems in place to prevent such tragedies in the future. There's a lot of heart out there, and we've been moved and touched by it.
Our beautiful intrepid boy Lou-Sippi didn't make it. He was just too neglected, too abused, and too demolished by the disaster, not to mention by the human guardians who let him down. And all the incredible efforts his rescuers, caregivers, supporters, who didn't stint by a dollar or an hour or an ounce of love--even though we did everything we could, even everything was too little, too late. But he tried his best, which was pretty darn great, and so did we all, all of us who were lucky enough to get to know and privileged to try to save, and serve, this amazing, souful little guy named Lou-Sippi.
So, this particular heart-warming story doesn't have an old-fashioned happy ending. That doesn't mean it's all in vain, though. Far from it. Lou-Sippi was lifted by loving hands out of a long, torturous bad dream followed by a terrifying nightmare --and we're sure he knew it. That he was, at last, loved.
He was spared a lonely and painful death. And he found out that there are good people who help, not just mean ones who hurt you or just don't care. He got to know, maybe for the first time, people who cherished him, who were devoted to caring for, and enjoying him--and to whom he returned the lovingkindness of every changed dressing, soft word, appreciative pat on the head tenfold with the gratitude, depth, and tenderness we saw shining from his eyes, and in the licks, tail-wags, and happy barks that, weakened as he was, he bestowed on all.
Lou-Sippi spent his last days surrounded by, and surrounding others with, pure love. The heartworm may have, in the end, conquered his body, but never his spirit. He knew, and gave, joy, affection, and security. And, most of all, hope.
I had this column all planned about Lou-Sippi wonderful life he would have after recovering, but the news about Lou-Sippi death has kind of de-railed that--or maybe, put it back on track. Because not only did Lou-Sippi's short, beautiful, bittersweet life, and the ultimately failed (but not futile) battle to save it, touch us all, but seeing his struggle, and telling and sharing his story--and the unseen, untold stories of thousands like him--is what will make a difference in the end. His story changed us, and stories like his can change the world.
Lou-Sippi was loved by many of us that touched our hearts for his battle and will to survive. He will be deeply missed by all of us, but his story and legacy will live on. He at least had the chance to experience a loving family and home and be surrounded by love from the ones who cared for him. Pets & Animals in Distress would like to thank everyone for your love, support and prayers you have given Lou-Sippi in his critical time of need. We Love You & We will all will miss him terribly that this little black dog with no name that was rescued in Pearlington, Mississippi and brought to Mandeville, Louisiana and now has found his final resting place in Florida, surrounded by the ones who loved and cared for him. God Bless you Lou-Sippi and may the Animal Angels above surround and protect you forever in the Rainbow Bridge. God Bless!
Pets & Animals in Distress
"Your Best Friends Helping Our Best Friends"