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One Dog's Katrina Experience

By Darlene Green


When we all evacuated just before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, my sister, Arlene, took Bosco, her Yorkshire Terrier-Poodle mix, but left the 5-year-old big dog, Gipsy, an SPCA- adopted German Sheppard-chow mix, since they figured she could last a day or two alone, and it'd be easier to find somewhere to stay without a large dog in tow. After the storm their neighborhood only got around 2 feet of water, flooding only the den and garage. The garage actually was a game room with a Pac-Man machine, pool table, etc., and this is where they had put Gipsy. Arlene's husband, Eldridge, is a fireman and an animal lover just like us; he stayed in New Orleans the entire time of Katrina, but with all the ensuing chaos after the storm he couldn't get back into his neighborhood to check on Gipsy. My brother, Delaney, who also a Fireman, said he passed the house once in a boat and was able to call us in Bossier City with an update of water in the area. When the water finally receded and Eldridge was able to go to the house to check on the dog, he was prepared to find her dead. But when he pulled in driveway, Gipsy starting barking and crying. It seems she had jumped on the pool table and survived for a month with no food or water, with water lapping at the top of the table for days until it receded.

Her husband then took Gipsy out of that nasty water and put him inside the house, closed all the doors so he would stay in one area, and put enough food and water down for him to last a couple days. But when he checked back, he found that the writing spray painted on the front of the house by first responders showed "NO DOG," and Gipsy was gone. Somebody had broken their daughter's bedroom window, came in, and took the dog. We all then came down from North Louisiana to see what happened to Gipsy, and her husband flagged down a passing police car from another state and told them about Gipsy. They drew guns, rifles, shields, etc. to go into his house, thinking that someone had broken into the house and was still there because the door to their bedroom was locked and Eldridge said he had left the door unlocked. Since the keys were in the bedroom the police kicked the door open, but the room was empty. The officers left, dripping with sweat from the heat in the house.

So Arlene and Eldridge looked around the neighborhood, asking people on street about Gipsy. They were told to search the Winn-Dixie on Chef Menteur where a temporary animal shelter had been set up, but Gipsy wasn't there. We all cried and I went back home. But my sister and kids stayed in Bossier City. While there, her 16-year-old son, Eldridge, Jr., surfed the Internet, and accessed a site for displaced animals. And there was Gipsy -- all the way at the Arizona SPCA!

It's Gipsy

Gipsy was not a unique-looking dog; she was simply brown, but Jr. knew that was their dog from a picture on the Internet. Some years ago, Gipsy had been hit by a car, so her son knew just where to look for old injuries. They called the number from the website and had someone check for certain identifying marks, and sure enough it was Gipsy. We all cried some more, but this time they were tears of joy. Arrangements were quickly made to get Gipsy from the airport and safely home.

Gipsy Coming Home

Darlene Green is an IT Specialist for the Federal Government at the Research and Technology Park in New Orleans.