I took responsibility for Darcy, come what may, the moment I saw her; there was no way I could leave her like she was. See her sweet face under the cut.
Shog came from work to help me get Darcy into the car because even half-starved and 40 pounds under weight, she is still a Saint Bernard and very powerful (and too heavy for me to easily lift at 78 lb). We bathed her and settled her into the spare bath, where I later gave her flea and tick meds because, even with her medicated shampooing, she was still entirely too itchy. And there she rested until my return from getting the second of two rabies vaccinations because, yes, a four-month-old feral got me again. This story is sad.
When I got to the feeding station on Sunday, I found Jareth, Stripey's black kitten, sitting by the water bowl. He didn't run away, and when I picked him up, he screamed. I'm having nightmares about it, still. I got him cuddled up with me in the car and called for Shog (I didn't have a carrier because it wasn't a trapping day), who brought me a carrier and then went in search of the stray dog that bystanders said they had seen near the station.
I took Jareth to the vet to get a weight on him so that I could apply flea and tick meds, but the vet examined him and found him to be mortally injured; he had a hernia from, we assume, his having been shaken by an animal, and he was bleeding internally. There was nothing to be done but to pay the little guy the final kindness. I kept my sobs inside while I comforted him, but I lost it in the car when I took his wee body away. He needs buried, but right now, his little casket is wrapped in plastic and in our standing freezer. We were supposed to have a round of trapping this weekend, and I feel like a complete failure. He was a good boy, was Jareth, and he didn't deserve this.
The rest of the clowder appears intact (there have been recent disappearances, but I don't know if they're due to canine activity or the fact that another feeder has set up new stations in the vicinity, and cats will wander off and return); I saw Stripey, Lonely Boy, and Mort looking after Jareth's litter mate, Red, so that's a relief. In any case, Jareth, in his distress at initially being handled, did bite me, so I had to get the Rabavert (happily, only two doses because of my previous exposures in '20 and '17). The ER doc suggested, "Since this is becoming a habit with you," that I think about getting boosters. I am thinking about it. I'm also thinking about getting Red immediately, but I've not seen her since Sunday; she's always been a cautious one like Stripey.
All that said, I've been picking up the wet food after a reasonable eating period so that it won't attract dogs, and the dry goes into an enclosure that dogs can't get into.
It's been an emotional few days, and I'm very tired. I also don't know how I'm going to deal with Darcy once she regains her strength. I absolutely won't abandon her, but I do think finding a good Saint Bernard rescue to transfer her to is a good idea once she's run through her medications and medical baths and looks more like the lovely girl she is, dedicated rescue or no; people's resources are stretched, and very few rescues can afford the expense of such serious rehabilitation. Thank God for Mom for leaving me a nut of money with which to do good; I think she'd approve of Shog and I taking care of Darcy, who was almost neglected to death. If that was purposeful on the part of her people, may they reap what they sow, may they reap what they sow threefold.
P.S. I am not a "feeder"; I am a trap-neuter-return advocate, and I trust feed so that I can eventually pull the food, trap, and neuter and vet the ferals—which I pretty much always place rather than return to hold their population stable. TNR is good, but adoption is (almost always) better. I monitor my station, know my cats, and in the case of this station, have removed all the breeding females save one, and Stripey's capture day is coming; to that, I am committed!
P.P.S. Shog is amazingly kind. I'm grateful to him for immediately wanting to save Darcy rather than see her put down. But then, I would not have married him had he been any other way. Oh, and Albus the Dog and the cats are, all things considered, taking Darcy's presence in stride, thank God. Darcy will be isolated until I'm sure she's vermin free; from blood work, I know that she's lyme-positive, but that's it! No heart worms and the like. *relieved* We haven't addressed the growths, but I think they may just be skin tags and hardened skin from the excessive scratching. Oh, and she doesn't have mange! Thank fucking God for that!