Give her time (that was the advice) and if we left her food and water and talked sweetly and gently she would grow to trust us. How long does it take to develop trust with a dog on the streets? One week, two? A month, two months, three months? Time passed with no change in behavior, but the rainy season was starting. The heat, humidity and constant threat of hurricane weather, not to mention the daily dodging of traffic across city streets, all seemed to point to a tragic ending for Pretty Girl.
We claimed she must have an angel with her, protecting her. She received three full meals a day from the neighborhood animal lovers. She dug a cool hole in the yard next to ours in order to stretch out her length (a yard belonging to an empty, foreclosed house). She rested under the shade of huge bushes. She learned to disguise herself as a shadow in the corner of an open laundry room when it rained. And then she got pregnant.
If ever there was a time to pray for Pretty Girl, this was it. She did not deserve this life. Her belly grew larger with each passing day. Her breasts swelled ready to produce milk. We watched, fed and prayed. But suddenly without warning Pretty Girl vanished. The neighborhood patrolled every day, even through four days of aggressive rain downpours. We were a city block in mourning.
The blue sky returned on Saturday and a thin Pretty Girl came with it. We gazed across our yard into the yard next door like we had for months watching and feeding her. She was noticeably skinny. Her breasts sagged, full of milk, her nose to the ground, searching for food and water. I grabbed food and water and quickly made my way over to feed her. As I entered the yard, Pretty Girl ran to the north side of the house, an area quieter but enclosed on three sides. For once, she wouldn’t be able to escape while I put down the bowl. I entered the north side area and a full grown, approximately 160-pound Lab dropped to the ground and shimmied into a 24 by 18 inch crawl-space opening under the house. I left the food, walked away, turned and saw an orange nose peeking out of the hole. I walked further away and watched as Pretty Girl pulled herself out of the hole. She devoured the food.