Excerpt from I Am Dexter

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Imagine every sound you hear could be something trying to kill you. Imagine being alone in the dark—cold, hungry, without shelter yet better off than the place where you suffered unimaginable torment. Imagine having to fight for every moment of your survival.

This is the life Dexter, a sweet lovable dog, endured for many months until he was rescued and rehabilitated by two remarkable people, Steve and Dr. Dru Pollinger.

This is their story…


Through the big picture window of our animal hospital, I see an unfamiliar car pulling up to the front entrance. My plan was to have the leash handed off to me and immediately go for a walk that would begin to build a bond. Little could I have imagined the large crate that is carried out of the back of the vehicle and into the reception area.

In person, Florence is nicely dressed, fortyish, very sweet, with a concerned expression on her face. She introduces herself and Mark. Mark seems amicable, with somewhat of a more commanding presence. Our greetings being said, I am now anxious to meet Dexter who is confined in this cage.

I’m suspicious of the fact that he is not leashed. He appears terrified. He is standing up, head down, tail between his legs, ears hung low, and he is unwilling to make eye contact with me. Will this plan for an immediate walk be the right one? I don’t think so, but I will try to engage him. Further conversation is not something that I am desirous of right now.

I say to Mark, “No leash?” He responds by pulling one from his pocket, opens the cage door, and with great difficulty, slides it around Dexter’s neck. There is no aggression coming from him, but much more fear in his body language than I anticipated.

I take the leash and gently pull Dexter out. It is time for them to go and for me to begin my work. Florence hands me the paperwork regarding Dexter, and I let her know we’ll be in touch.

“Dex” is reddish-brown in color and resembles a beagle lab cross. He is medium-sized with stout legs, a long, thick tail, and droopy ears – but it is his face and his gaze that grip you. Numerous puncture scars cover the lips, muzzle, and the fossa between his eyes. His tear ducts have been damaged, and he subsequently suffers from tear overflow. His right ear has a large black hairless patch where it folds over. The front legs show linear scars arranged in a diagonal pattern. The right hind limb has a two-inch black patch of skin that never healed properly. He walks clumsily with a subtle left front lameness and his hind-end sways, perhaps from hip or back trauma. His right rear toes drag when one watches his gait from behind. There are no visible marks on his belly or back. He never rolled over in submission! In his quest for food, he may easily have encountered raccoons or a bobcat – who knows? Could he have been hit by a car – possibly? Was he caught in barbed wire fencing? We can only surmise, but we do know that no one was there to help him. His body slowly healed on its own, leaving only traces of the trauma he endured. Perhaps his earliest days were even worse, with beatings; as we will come to know with certainty later on, he was never socialized, only maligned. It is the hand approaching his face that terrorizes him…

I Am Dexter by Steve and Dru Pollinger

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