Bridget’s Last Escape

Bridget came to AWARE when she was a six-month-old, twenty pound cutie pie with a healing abscess on her face. The best her owners could do for her was to dump her outside one of Antigua’s vet clinics. The clinic drained and cleaned her abscess and we brought her to the Shelter.

Pretty soon Bridget caught the eye of a missionary couple looking for a dog, and off she went to her first home. We were very happy for her. “It’s so good when one of the dogs finds a good home”, we enthused.

But it turned out that Bridget wanted more. Three years later, almost to the day, her adopters brought her back. She was too much trouble. “Too much trouble?” we exclaimed, flabbergasted. “Yes, she’s a lovely dog but she keeps escaping.” Bridget wanted to be free.

She seemed happy enough for the next two years, but then for some reason our regular donation of food was suspended and we had to put the dogs on emergency rations. Maybe Bridget heard us muttering about “got to find a solution for feeding so many animals”, or some such, as we slouched past her pen one morning. Whatever it was, the next chance Bridget got she was over the fence and gone.

Less than two weeks later she was found and brought back, and for four more years she put up with the Shelter routine of walkies, mealtimes, and sleep. No one picked her out for adoption, though.

I guess she got to a point where she just couldn’t take it any more, and the next chance to take advantage of an inexperienced dog walker she was off and running yet again.

Almost a year to the day later she was back, only this time she was being carried. She couldn’t walk. She’d been hit by the inevitable car. She never walked or ran again.

A very kind and generous donor took her measurements and got her some wheels. Bridget spurned them. She didn’t want wheels. She wanted to climb the fence and run, no compromise.

So Bridget spent her last years lying in the sun at Hound Heights, the doyenne of the Clinic Dogs. She had her canine buddies and acolytes, and of course the respect and company of her human friends whenever the work schedule allowed. She became a noted feature of the ‘puppy park’ in front of the Clinic. We didn’t notice the time passing.

One morning last month Bridget didn’t wake up. She’d given us no warning (that we noticed), she seemed healthy and she looked like she’d died at peace and uncomplaining – pretty much how she’d always lived. She was going on fourteen. It was her last escape.

There are those who find their integrity in upholding the status quo. And there are those whose integrity drives them to seek the glories and perils of freedom, of self-belief. Bridget was one of those.


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