Why We Rescue

“I Found Your Dog Today.”

I found your dog today. No, he has not been adopted by anyone. Most of us who live out here own as many dogs as we want. Those who do not own dogs choose not to.

I know you hoped he would find a good home when you left him out here, but he did not.
When I first saw him he was miles from the nearest house and he was alone, thirsty, thin and limping from a burr on his paw. How I wish I could have been you as I stood before him. To see his tail wag and his eyes brighten as he bounded into your arms, knowing you would find him, knowing you had not forgotten him. To see the forgiveness in his eyes for the suffering and pain he had known in his never-ending quest to find you.

But, I was not you and despite all my persuasion his eyes saw a stranger he did not trust. He would not come. He turned and continued his journey – one he was sure would bring him to you. He does not understand that you are not looking for him. He only knows you are out there. He only knows he must find you. This is more important than food or water or the stranger who can give him these things. Persuasion and pursuit seemed futile.

I didn’t even know his name. I drove home, filled a bucket with water and a bowl with food and returned to where we had met. I could see no sign of him , but I left my offering under the tree where he had sought shelter from the sun and a chance to rest. You see, he is not of the wild. When you domesticated him, you took away any instinct for survival out there.

His purpose demands that he travel during the day. He doesn’t know that the sun and the heat will claim his life. He only knows that he has to find you.

I waited, hoping he would return to the tree, hoping my gift would build an element of trust so I might bring him home, remove the burr from his foot, give him a cool place to lie down and help him understand that the part of his life with you is now over.

He did not return that morning, and at dusk the water and food were still there untouched. And I worried. You must understand that many people would not attempt to help your dog. Some would run him off. Others would call the county or police and the fate you thought you saved him from would be preempted by his suffering for days without food or water.

I returned again before dark. I did not see him. I went again early the next morning only to find the food and water still untouched. If only you were here to call his name. Your voice is so familiar to him.

I began pursuit in the direction he had taken yesterday, doubt overshadowing my hope of finding him. His search for you was desperate. It could take him many miles in 24 hours.
It is hours later and a good distance from where we first met, but I found your dog.
His thirst has stopped. It is no longer a torment to him. His hunger has disappeared. He no longer aches. The burrs in his paws bother him no more. Your dog has been set free from his burdens.
You see, your dog has died.

I knelt next to him and I cursed you for not being here yesterday so I could see the glow, if just for a moment, in those now vacant eyes.

I pray that his journey has taken him to that place I think you hoped he would find.
If only you knew what he went through to reach it.

And, I agonize for I know that were he to awaken at this moment and if I were to be you, his eyes would sparkle with recognition and his tail would wag with forgiveness.

~ Author unknown.

“How Could You?”

~ Jim Willis, 2001.

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub. My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs’ you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” — still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.” As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch — because your touch was now so infrequent — and I would’ve defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf. Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you, that you had changed your mind — that this was all a bad dream… or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?” Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master; I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
* * *
A Note From The Author: If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly “owned” pets who die each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a non-commercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

~ Jim Willis.

“Rainbow Bridge”

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
Author unknown.

“Rainbow Bridge ~ Sequel”

When a person who has given tirelessly and made it their life’s work to
save and succor abandoned animals and find them happy homes comes to
the bridge, first one animal will stop and look into the distance, then
more and more will look up and watch. For this is a person all the animals
know about. As they have waited for their loved one(s), they have told the
story of their rescue from loneliness, neglect and impending death, and the
wonderful people who helped them until a special loved one could be found.
Oh special friend of animals, you have been spotted, and all the dogs and
other animal friends will run over the fields to thank the person who has
enabled so many to have had good lives and memories. Then, will they all
walk to the gate of St. Peter and say, “This is a person whose name is
surely entered on the roll once for each of us whose life was changed.”
Then those friends who will be forever together step forward and, to
the sound of great rejoicing from all the animals, cross the bridge
together.

~ Darla Fonseca.

“Lucky’s Treasures”

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’ Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit, they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing. Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box, and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease. in fact, she was just sure it was fatal. She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders.

The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her… what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated, and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed. When Mary woke, for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky? He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Remember…. live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget…. the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

“Let No One Be Discouraged . . .”

Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation. It is from numberless, diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends a tiny ripple of hope. Crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples can build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

~ Robert F. Kennedy.

“I Adopted Your Pet Today”

I adopted your pet today…
The one you left at the pound;
The one you had for years
And no longer wanted around.

I adopted your pet today…
Did you know that he’s lost weight?
Did you know he’s scared and depressed
And seems to have lost all faith?

I adopted your pet today…
He had fleas and a little cold;
Guess you don’t care what shape he’s in
— You abandoned him I am told.

I adopted your pet today…
Were you having a baby or moving away?
Did you suddenly develop allergies,
Or was there NO reason he couldn’t stay?

I adopted your pet today…
He doesn’t play or even eat much;
I guess he’s very sad inside and
It’ll take time for him to trust.

I adopted your pet today…
And here he is going to stay;
He’s found his FOREVER home
And a warm bed in which to lay.

I adopted your pet today…
And shall give him all that he will need
— Patience, love, and security,
So he can forget your selfish deed.

“Autumn”

What do we do when our loving pets face the last leg of the race? We do all we can to help them finish well, of course. We take time to read the unspoken needs of the friends we’ve come to know so well. We give the simple reassurance of a loving touch when the old boy seems confused for no reason.

We groom them faithfully, but more gently, as age brings muscle wasting, and the arthritic bones aren’t so well padded.

We learn to slow down for their sake, as they enjoy the scent of the wind, or track a visitor’s trail across their yard.

We expect to be inconvenienced, and aren’t angry when it happens.

We watch for pain and treat it, watch for changes in vision and hearing and do what we can to help preserve those precious senses for as long as possible.

We take care of their teeth, and make sure their food is a manageable texture for them.

We remind them of the need for a potty walk when they seem to forget.

We remember the little rewards. We scratch the graying ears and tummy, and go for car rides together. When the pet we love has an unexplained need for comfort, we give it freely.
When infirmities bring a sense of vulnerability, we become our old guardian’s protector.

We watch their deepest slumbers, when dreams take them running across long-forgotten fields, and we remember those fields too. When they cannot stand alone, we lift them. When their steps are uncertain, we steady them.

And if their health fails, it falls to us to make the choice that will gently put them to rest.
But until that is absolutely necessary, we pause to let the autumn sun warm our old friend’s bones. And we realize, autumn is not a bad time of year at all.

Old age is not a disease or a reason to give up. It is a stage of life that brings its own changes. Autumn can be a beautiful time of harvest.

And, sometimes, the harvest is love.

~ Christy Caballero

“The Journey Of Loving A Pet”

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey……a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage.

If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark.

Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life’s simple pleasures…

Jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears.

If you spend much time outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf, or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information. Your pace may be slower
except when heading home to the food dish but you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in the field.

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details…the colorful mushrooms on the rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag; the hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a whole
new world.

We stop…we browse the landscape, we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature has created a marvelously complex world that is full of surprises, that each cycle of the seasons bring ever changing wonders, each day an essence all its own.

Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting on a screen..(How bizarre they are! How many kinds there are! Or noting the flick and flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, or sniff the air after a rain. It does not matter that there is no objective in this; the point is in the doing, in not letting life’s most important details slip by.

You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the cat food brand your feline must have, buying dog birthday treats, or driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride. You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewy toys, bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie with a cat in hot pursuit – all in the name of love.

Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound.

You will learn the true measure of love…the steadfast, undying kind that says, “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together.” Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the
human race.

And you will learn humility. The look in my dog’s eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human
foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway.

If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will be not just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be – the one they were proud to call beloved friend.

I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down. And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet’s time on earth is far too short – especially for those that love them. We borrow them, really, just for awhile, and during these brief years they are generous enough to give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left.

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray. Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken.

But give them we must for it is all they ask in return. When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead – young and whole once more.

“Godspeed, my sweet friend,” we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.

“Just A Dog”

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.”

They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.”

Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks, and look longingly to the future.

So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a man or woman.”

So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog” just smile… because they “just don’t understand.”

by Richard Biby
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Contributing Editor VHD
From “The Versatile Hunting Dog”
NAVHDA’s Magazine
February 2006

“If I Didn’t Have Dogs”

I could walk around the yard barefoot.
My house could be carpeted instead of tiled and laminated.
All flat surfaces, clothing, furniture, and cars would be free of hair.
When the doorbell rings, it wouldn’t sound like a kennel.
When the doorbell rings, I could get to the door without wading through fuzzy bodies who beat me there.
I could sit on the couch and my bed the way I wanted, without taking into consideration how much space several fur bodies would need to get comfortable.
I would not have strange presents under my Christmas tree – dog bones, stuffed animals, toys, treats – nor would I have to explain to people why I wrap them.
I would have money … and no guilt to go on a real vacation.
I would not be on a first-name basis with six veterinarians, as I put their yet unborn grandkids through college.
The most used words in my vocabulary would not be: out, sit, down, come, no, stay, and leave him/her/it ALONE.
My house would not be cordoned off into zones with baby gates or barriers.
My house would not look like a day care center with toys everywhere.
My pockets would not contain things like poop bags, treats, and an extra leash.
I would no longer have to spell the words B-A-L-L, F-R-I-S-B-E- E, W-A-L-K, T-R-E-A-T, B-I-K-E, G-O, R-I-D-E, and B-A-C-O-N.
I would not have as many leaves INSIDE my house as outside.
I would not look strangely at people who think having ONE dog/cat ties them down too much.
I would look forward to Spring and the rainy season instead of dreading “mud” season.
I would not have to answer the question “Why do you have so many animals?” from people who will never have the joy in their lives of knowing they are loved unconditionally by someone as close to an angel as they will ever get.

How EMPTY my life would be.

~ author unknown.