Saving Private Ryan

He’s not much to look at right now and maybe he never will be. The fact is, he may not live through the week. But then again, he might. I’ve named him Private Ryan because he’s in a battle to survive and he definitely needs saving. Private Ryan lives in my neighborhood, though in an area where I rarely travel. I saw him last week and was horrified and angry. “Oh, you mean The Walking Dead”, said my animal-loving English landlord when I asked him about the skeleton dog that wears a green water hose for a collar. This should not happen, I thought.

Since that time I’ve fed Private Ryan two big hot meals a day and will continue to do so indefinitely. My Filipino neighbors seem happy that I’m taking care of him. No one enjoys looking at this level of suffering. “His owner only gave him shrimp heads”, said one woman. “That’s no good”.

These photos were taken this morning, and believe it or not, he’s come a long way in a week. I can no longer see his entire rib cage. I’m hoping that his fur will grow back normally now that he’s recovering from malnutrition and starvation. His sores seem to be healing. Last week he spent all his time curled up in a garage, on the tiny piece of cardboard which is his bed. Now he is up and about, spending his days outside. He seems to know that he’s won the lottery. He recognizes me and comes trotting toward me as I deliver his food bowl.

Private Ryan eating breakfast in bed

Private Ryan eating breakfast in bed

Who cares about one hungry dog when there are so many thousands of others all over the Philippines? I don’t believe in throwing up my hands and crying and moaning that it’s hopeless because I can’t save the world. Nobody is asking me to save the world. Of course, I can’t. But I can save Private Ryan. Maybe. I’d say he’s got a 60/40 chance of making it. But last week he had ZERO chance. And it matters a lot to Private Ryan. I also don’t believe in strutting around pompously, pointing my finger at poor, uneducated people and telling them how it’s “done” in England or America or Germany. I see foreigners doing that all the time and it makes me ashamed of my race. I will take responsibility for this dog and make sure that he has what he needs — which is better than talk or tears or pointed fingers…

Hopefully, Private Ryan will grow back his fur.

Hopefully, Private Ryan will grow back his fur.

We’ll see how it goes for Private Ryan. I’ll give you an update at the beginning of March. It may be bad news, of course, I can’t tell yet. But he may be doing great. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Just because you can’t save the world, doesn’t mean you should bury your head in the sand. We can all do our bit. It matters.


6 Comments on “Saving Private Ryan

  1. India I’m so proud of you and your efforts! Your story made me cry. You can’t save them all but at least your trying to save some. I know he’s not your first effort my friend. I pray he makes it.

    • Thank you, Sandra! Since I posted this story, Private Ryan looks and acts stronger and continues to eat everything in his bowl. I really think it’s all the prayers and good wishes he has received from you and other readers. I do hope he makes it!!! Thanks for writing…

  2. I suspect Private Ryan is not only going to survive but I think he is going to be a beautiful dog too. We saw many strays in South America but all seemed well fed. We were told that most were collected by shelters and found homes for. Unfortunately, the Chileans (and probably other SA countries) do not believe in spaying or neutering. They think it is unnatural. Several dogs at the cemetery in Puerto Montt, one of whom I would love to have brought home. He was a young golden retriever who was just full of himself and clearly top dog in the cemetery. We saw several cats wandering the Recolette cemetery in Buenos Aires looking fed and contented. One was asleep on top of the guard’s desk. There were many many dog walkers in Montevideo and many more dogs and owners in parks and walking along the streets.

    • What you say is interesting, Phyllis. Yes, it’s like that in many parts of the world, where stray animals are allowed to live and are fed in parks or cemeteries. Then there are those places where strays end up in stir fries. I wish for a better world for animals, but I guess I’ll have to be content with being the “dog lady” on my street…

    • Haha, I’m not sure if it’s love — but I’m guessing that I’m one of his favorite people!! Thanks, Maxine…

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