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The former Daily Statesman is now The Dexter Statesman and currently does not have an operating website.


Posted Friday, December 10, 2010, at 8:31 AM

A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night the folks came across this scene. An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose Baby Jesus as his comfort. No one had the heart to send him away, so he was there all night.
This morning I received an email from my friend Marilyn Neville, the absolute most dedicated animal rescue worker that I know in the world, and she sent me the photo above. It touched my heart in many ways, and I'm sitting here on an early, pre-Christmas morning, thinking of all the work we've done with rescues over the last five years or so of our acquaintance.

I try to help by putting Marilyn's photos in the paper, picking up lost dogs and getting them back to their owners, and contributing to the few local rescue organizations. Marilyn's group - the Bollinger County Stray Project - is, of course, first on my list, because I've been out to her remote Zalma farm, where she juggles about 50-60 dogs at a time. The woman is tireless in her efforts to help the hundreds and hundreds of abandoned and suffering animals in Southeast Missouri. She doesn't confine her efforts to Bollinger and Stoddard County; her rescues extend to Cape and Scott. How one tiny little lady could find so much energy is beyond me!

I also contribute regularly to the Humane Society of Missouri, as I've seen first-hand the work they do. I've stood beside a Humane Society agent as he stooped down to examine a starving dog, covered in mange, waiting for the return of owners who had moved off and abandoned her. I've helped the agent load dogs for transport to the St. Louis shelter. I've attended Missouri Humane Society seminars with the Stoddard County Sheriff's department. I know their work, and I approve.

Certain dogs haunt my memory. Their faces have a permanent place in my mind. There was the beagle picked up on the streets of Marble Hill, carrying a small stuffed bear toy. I don't know his fate.

There was a big white dog they called "Buster," who looked out at me from the newspaper with the most incredibly sad eyes and droopy ears. His owner had been taken to the nursing home, and the family had turned Buster out to fend the streets by himself. Marilyn tried to get him to "smile" for the camera, but he was too heart-broken to respond. He knew the dog pound was not his home, and he refused to be cheered.

Buster's fate is a heart-warming one, as (believe it or not) a gentleman from Dexter saw his picture in the NSC and called the Marble Hill pound to say he would take him. The city clerk told me that it was the most joyous meeting they'd ever seen, as the Dexter man opened his truck door and invited Buster to ride back home with him. I've wished ever since that I could do a follow-up story on that story. If there's anyone out there who knows this man and dog, please call me!

I myself was captivated by one of the pictures I put in the NSC and went out to a remote hill at Arab, Mo., to bring back an enormous, fluffy puppy I named "Bucky." He grew into a 75-pound sweetheart that I dearly, dearly love!

Yes, I know that Christmas is a time to remember our fellow man and to give what we can to help others - but, surely, surely, there is also a place in our hearts for those animals who give us so much and ask for so little in return.

There are many ways we can help: We can give money or time to a shelter, adopt a shelter dog or cat, donate dog food or dog houses to shelters. Be aware of sites like www.hsmo.org, where the Humane Society of Missouri gives information on its programs for the prevention of cruelty, abuse and neglect of animals through its adoption centers, veterinary medical centers, and rehabilitation center. Use websites like www.petfinder.com to see current dogs and cats available in local shelters.

It is my prayer that the work of dedicated volunteers will help change the mindset of so many people in this state who treat their dogs and cats like disposible pieces of trash, worth no more consideration that the empty McDonald's carton that they throw from the windows of their cars.

From the hills of Tillman, Mo., site of many, many dumped dogs, this is your rural, roving reporter, Madeline, wishing all a very warm and happy Christmas season, full of good things for both man and beast!

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

What a sweet picture. I so hope someone picks this sweet baby up. It so looks like a stray that found her way into our backyard last Feb.

At least it was safe for one night.

-- Posted by starry_056 on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 11:35 AM

We live in a throw-away society. We discard everything that displeases us and, unfortunately, that includes children, older adults, and pets. I do what I can do, particularly for the animals, but it is rarely enough. I hope the dog in the picture is now enjoying a permanent home in which to live and prosper.

-- Posted by geezerette on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 12:06 PM

Who would have the heart to wrench this little fellow from the arms of Jesus, himself? Even if the figure is just a symbol, the meaning is so obvious that one can't help be moved by it!

"Throw away society" is a sad, but true, label for this modern age. I cannot fathom how a family could just pull up and leave, without providing for their animals. I'm familiar with the case that the Humane Society came to help with: Those dogs were surviving on nothing but persimmons!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 1:50 PM

Our family dog used to climb in with Jesus at a Nativity Scene at a Dexter church. That was in the days when we didn't have to leash our pets, and he was at home at that church, known by most who attended there. He was free to visit our neighbors, and then he'd come back home when he was ready. Those days are no more--I would no longer dream of not fencing our dogs, but it was safe enough then. He even knew how to cross the street safely. My point was that he was never turned away from the manger. I hope this pup found a home. Thanks for making his fate known, Madeline!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 3:01 PM

That is the sweetest, most amazing picture I've ever seen. I've adopted 2 of my 3 dogs, and I love them so very very much. I'm doing an essay for college on adopting from a shelter as opposed to buying from a breeder. I hope it at least persuades my fellow classmates to adopt a shelter pet. Great photo, and great story! My dogs have their own stockings for Christmas...at my house, they're like my children.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 9:45 PM

After reading this heart-wrenching article, Madeline, my husband pointed out a picture in the Statesman of a dog, with an ad under it telling us we could see others on Facebook at Dexter Animal Shelter.

I looked it up, and there they were...these precious faces looking out to us for help!

I do the news on YHC-TV and immediately emailed Tyler Wagner about the shelter and their site. Now we're going to have a weekly spot on YHC News about what dogs are available for adoption around Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas, including pictures!

GoneNow, that was the Catholic Church nativity scene, huh?

-- Posted by lovebooks on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 7:48 AM

Of course it was, but you must have only passed by if you saw old Spot snuggling in the manger. Maybe you just figured it out from the location. I know you weren't a member there, since you belonged to the same church as my grandparents.

I'm so glad you're going to focus on the sheltered animals. We rescued our last boxer--and he has such a place in my heart. I'll adopt another in the future. Good luck with the adoption project!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sun, Dec 12, 2010, at 6:24 PM

Lovebooks, that is GREAT!!! We have the same ad in the NSC for the Dexter shelter. I am so glad that those in charge of it are making an effort to get the word out.

It's a matter of education - the more we spread the word, the more people will be educated on animal issues.

Lovebooks & gonenow, you girls crack me up!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Dec 17, 2010, at 2:02 PM

We're here to please!!

-- Posted by lovebooks on Fri, Dec 17, 2010, at 7:24 PM

Maybe we still need to have that meeting at Faye's--red roses and all. Dexterite is welcome to stop by, if it should ever happen. Someone from the paper would need to take pictures, of course. Ha! This reference is to posts from a year or two ago, in case new readers think we've lost our marbles. (even if we have)

-- Posted by GONENOW on Fri, Dec 17, 2010, at 8:01 PM

I have two deal breakers on Weight Watchers...chicken & dumplings, and FAYE'S DONUTS!

-- Posted by lovebooks on Sun, Dec 19, 2010, at 1:25 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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