Read this and other awesome rescue stories in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Northern-Breed Dogs.
Featured Rescue: MUSH
General Lee Conquers Georgia
How could I say no to saving General Robert E. Lee?
After all, my great, great, great-grandfather was a Confederate soldier with the Georgia Infantry, wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg and taken as a prisoner of war by the U.S. forces on July 4, 1863. On July 15, 1863, he signed terms of capitulation that he would not take up arms against U.S. forces and was paroled. He died a month later in a hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.
I went to the shelter to pick up the “two- to three-year-old Husky” for MUSH Rescue and was presented with a dog who looked closer to seven, with a black tooth, a gash out of his snout, and more mats than a yoga class. We had been told by the shelter that his owner surrendered him “because of the downturn in the economy,” but he looked more like the dog from Homeward Bound when he returned from his 2,000-mile journey. This dog had not been in a home in a long time.
The shelter handed over General Robert E. Lee’s vet records along with his pedigree information. Who dumps a dog along with his papers? We learned that Lee, as we called him, was indeed a six-year-old, AKC-registered, purebred Siberian Husky. He was covered in ticks the size of Texas. They were so big that they would just fall out of his fur and die. I took him to the vet for a bath, and the reception people took pictures because they swore he was part wolf. Lee did not like being messed with and let you know by screaming. It wasn’t a bark, and it wasn’t a whine. This dog could scream!
Once home, Lee had no interest in his foster brothers and sisters and was even aggressive toward them. He just wanted to run free. We put him in an airline crate on wheels, and Lee moved the crate across the room in a matter of minutes. This dog was wilder than a bull at a rodeo! What had I gotten myself into? Over the years, we’ve fostered more than 60 dogs, but this one was a special challenge. The vet who neutered him had said that Lee would settle down around 90 days post-surgery, when the testosterone was out of his body. Could I hold out that long?
I looked for a home for Lee but worried about his safety because this dog could escape anything. I swear he opened my front door one day and let the other dogs out. They came back for a treat, while Lee played chase with my husband between two streets in the neighborhood until I could get there with chicken. The next time he escaped, he ran down the banks of the Chattahoochee with me in pursuit until I couldn’t run anymore. I drove back to the area where he was last seen and found him standing by the road with a “Where have you been?” look on his face.
By the time we finally hit that 90-day mark, we had fallen hard for this furry ball of love, so we kept him.
Life with Lee has not settled down much. He recently got ahold of the kitchen sponge with the Brillo pad on one side and sponge on the other, and when I tried to take it, he swallowed it whole. I wrestled with him for about a half hour trying to get hydrogen peroxide down his throat, which, of course, ended up in my eye. We took him to the emergency vet, and they gave him something to make him throw it up. We knew it worked when we heard his scream. The vet came out with the whole sponge and the rest of his stomach contents!
This dog keeps us on our toes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. General Robert E. Lee may have helped conquer Mexico in the Mexican-American War, but General Robert E. Lee the canine has conquered our hearts! –Charla Huston Collings