Monday, February 23, 2009

In Memory of POLLY

For those of you who’ve seen NGO’s show Dog Town “Project Rescue”, Polly was the mother of Baxt and the other pups featured on the show. Polly was doing her best to care for the pups in the harsh environment, but another female dog kept stealing the pups and hiding them in a deep burrow. Polly’s face was scarred and swollen from the injuries she received trying to retrieve her puppies. The puppies were rescued and taken back to Best Friends in Utah. They all survived, thrived and were eventually adopted into loving homes.

Polly at the Gabbs Ranch

Polly’s fate was not quite so happy.

Polly remained at Gabbs for another month and a half until the day of the big rescue. Polly was crated and loaded on the big truck with 56 other dogs and road three hours to Camp Reno. After a month of rehab, Polly was released to the Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter along with Charles, Apple and Winnie. Connie Nowlin (Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation) kept a close eye on the Gabbs refugees. Polly had a difficult time adjusting to the shelter environment and Connie looked for an alternative placement.

Polly with her sister Pinny at Gabbs

Polly, Pinny and Shy Girl preparing to leave Gabbs

Polly was eventually released to a rescue that had experience with the Gabbs dog. It was assumed all was well with Polly. No news is good news, right? Eight months later we learned that Polly only survived a week after she left Tahoe Vista. The rescue reported Polly had “shut down”, refusing food and water. They had made the decision to euthanize her.

Those who had worked so long to save the Gabbs dogs were hit hard by news of Polly’s death. But she’s with Dama now, and somewhere her puppies are living the happy ever after life that eluded her…

Polly at Camp Reno

We will remember her always!


  1. Polly lived her last week in my home. I had also worked with the Gabbs dogs and adopted one. Polly had been through so much in her life, I think she just gave up. I wish her fate could have been different, I wish all of their fates could have been different

  2. I am sure those of us who cared about Polly would like to ask why you never consulted anyone, like the people you got Polly from, before taking this drastic action?

    If you were having trouble with her, I know that many of us would have been there for Polly. She was eating and drinking just fine not even a week before you decided that she had given up. Several other Gabbs dogs did not do very well in their new situations, but once they were brought back to familiar surroundings (the desert) they bounced back. We still have three Gabbs dogs who were likewise doomed with the rescues they ended up at. They are all flourishing in the open air, sand and sage that they know so well.

    I am sure you feel terrible about this, but there are a lot of us who are very upset with what happened to Polly. It did not have to happen, you could have returned her if she was not doing well. Her fate could have been different, but you took that chance away from her.

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  4. To the person who left the first post:

    I am not trying to judge or impose my view in any way.

    Can you please share some more information on the situation with Polly? You are the only one that knows exactly what happened and can help us understand your decision.

  5. The news about Polly was devastating to a lot of people. Of course there are going to be lots of questions when “the absolute, no turning back, last resort” euthanasia is used. Secrecy, even when born out of emotions will also bring many questions. Very few people know exactly what happened in the situation with Polly, while at the same time many view euthanasia as never an option.

    Unfortunately for Polly, she is the extreme reason why this blog was started (even if her story was not known by me until after the blog started). You see, I too, was at my wits end with my Gabbs’ dog… I thought I was going crazy or doing something wrong. The best medicine for me was being put in contact with another foster family of a Gabbs dog. I learned that I wasn’t alone… wasn’t doing anything wrong… that it was more of what we have affectionately come to call “the Gabbs weirdness”.

    Besides being a good place for updates on all our Gabbs dogs, this blog should be a place of questions, learning, growing, and comradery. This is not the forum to attack others, as it is not in the spirit of Polly, the other Gabbs Dogs or this blog. Comments not in the spirit of this blog will be deleted.

  6. I first met the Gabbs dogs in November 2007. After seeing them at the ranch, I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Robin Wenham of Cirrus Ranch Rescue felt the same way, as did the folks from Best Friends. They haunted our thoughts and caused many sleepless nights. Our group was able to bring over 20 dogs from the ranch and find them homes. But every time I took one dog from the ranch, I wondered if I was condemning another to death. At first it was thought only about 60% of the dogs were salvageable, that the others would probably have to be put down. Was I wrong to be taking the dogs that appeared to be the most adoptable? I cried the day Paul Bruce from HSUS said that ALL the dogs were leaving the ranch. At least they would have a chance.
    The day I went to help catch Eddie, I came home to find my 15 year old Queensland was dying from the mini-strokes and kidney failure that had been killing her for months. I don’t know how many hours she had laid in her own poop and pee, unable to stand. That night I held her in my arms while the vet euthanized her, like I have done with all my old ones who had fought the long defeat. Under those circumstances, when all hope is gone, I consider euthanasia as not just an option, but a duty. But the real point is, even though I didn’t know Sid was going to die that day, I felt overwhelming guilt for leaving her alone. But I knew it was the last chance we had to catch Eddie in time to get him to Camp Reno.
    It’s clear from the comments that everyone is passionate about the Gabbs dogs. I’ve spent so many months micro-managing the Gabbs dogs, the news of Polly’s death hit me hard. I had taken Winnie from Tahoe Vista around the same time Polly left. Winnie was usually found buried under her blankets in the corner of her kennel. An animal behaviorist suggested she be put to sleep to put her out of her misery. I brought her home and put her out in the yard with her sister and she slowly came back to life. I think a lot of Lorayn and my frustration and questions come from the fact that we spent our summer vacations re-rescuing Gabbs dogs from shelters and rescues that were they were in danger of being euthanized because they couldn’t pass temperament tests or meet “training protocols”. Well Dah! Turned loose in open space with other dogs they are slowly coming around. I don’t know that the same would have been true for Polly.
    I’ve second guessed myself so many times on decisions I’ve made with the Gabbs dogs, it’s hard to second guess someone else. Hearing the news about Polly, I just worry about the dogs that were sent far away to people who didn’t know them. Having known the dogs by their names and personalities, I hate to think that any of them died anonymous and alone. That is why it is such a joy to hear about the dogs that have survived and thrived. When I heard about Wilma last summer, I was amazed. At Gabbs, Wilma was a brat. If you tried to give her a treat she’d just as likely take your glove or finger. If you turned your back on her, she bit your butt. Not exactly a likely candidate to pass a temperament test.
    The Gabbs saga has been filled with grief, joy, frustration and guilt. But I think of searching for lost Hardy for hours in the desert and finding him hiding in a mine shaft; my Nelda sleeping on the couch and running outside with a squeaky toy; Turtle and Winnie running around the back yard barking at me and blessing me with many burrows; Apple teaching himself a trick; Prancer prancing; and Joe running around being as cute as a bugs ear and I wonder what I did what I did before I had the Gabbs dogs to amaze me.

  7. Ashley(rescuer of Polly)March 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    I appreciate someone actually asking for the truth.

    I help Polly in my arms as she was euthanized. She was so weak from not eating or drinking she could not fight any longer. But I made sure I was with her and held her until she was gone.
    I adopted Windy (Wind talker) from Gabbs, and love her more than life itself. I spent time in Reno with these dogs and know them well.
    When Polly came to me she had been in a shelter enviornment for 2 to 3 months. She came to me very very afraid and only concerned with how quickly she could get far away from any humans. She bit 2 people severly in the time she was with me. She did not care that Windy was with her, or that any other dog was near. After being taken from her home that she had known her whole life, living in a shelter, and then being brought to just one more unknown place Polly had given up. She would not eat or drink. She was alive only due to Sub Q fluids. (the reason for one of the bites) She lost half her body weight. When she lay in my arms at the vet put her down I knew it was the RIGHT THINK to do. I consulted Shannon prior to my decision, and had been communicating with her the entire time about Polly and she trusted my judgement. I am not new to dog rescue, and she knew it was not a decision I would make lightly. To be honest I dont think she would have survived a trip back to 'the desert' to roam as she had been previously, and I dont think sending her back to the desert was in HER best interest. I am thrilled for dogs like Windy, Wilma, Eddie, Annie, Maggie etc. But I dont think putting them back in a situation all too similar to where they came from is the best thing for them. Thats why they were taken from there to begin with.