By Janet McAfee
The following statement about rescuing dogs in shelters and homeless strays was written by an unknown author. It was recently posted on Facebook by Shane Roberts, director of Luna Siberian Husky Rescue, a wonderful organization fighting to save more of this very special breed. Shane commented, “I don’t know who the author is but WOW! I always feel blessed that you allowed me to help animals.”
I am personally blessed to work at Loving All Animals since 2009. I understand some people become too sad to visit a public shelter. The rescuer’s focus is on the ones we save and arrange to get into wonderful adoptive homes. There is nothing like the joyful ecstasy of looking at the sweet faces of the dogs in the back of your vehicle on the Freedom Ride out of the shelter. Dogs know our intent. With a boundless optimism they know better things are ahead as they look out on the passing scenery living in the joy of the moment.
During the Freedom Ride, we humans are enriched as well. We sense the animal’s hope. Sometimes we select one who is too frightened to be touched. A small white dog named Chance raced wildly in circles around me in the visiting area at the San Bernardino City Shelter. I sat down on the ground and didn’t look at him. Finally, he stopped and approached to take a treat, and the game was up. When Loving All Animals took Chance an adoption event at the Westfield Mall in Palm Desert, Sara Fenimore and Steve Stoddard were waiting for him. Chance got a fabulous second chance home and appears regularly in happy Facebook updates.
Brandon was rescued by one of our foster parents after being abused by a Canadian woman and her children. He came into Loving All Animals, but reacted poorly when he heard a Canadian or British accents. It was no surprise he preferred men. He was a handful in Lynne Maiden’s foster home and when he stayed with me. Ron Peake saw a flyer on a gymnasium bulletin board and called to say, “We want to rescue the dog who needs us the most!” Now named Brian, this handsome puppy went home with Ron Peake and Jack Shinn and sister pup Chihuahua Bella. Jack is retired Navy, and their dogs receive structure and training along with incredible love. A week later, a photo appeared on Facebook of a dinner party with 20 humans and 12 dogs including Brian the perfect guest!
Dogs transform when they are rescued and go to a foster home. They transform again when they are adopted. To have been a part of their journey brings us rescuers much joy.
More rescue warriors are needed as the number of homeless dogs and cats swells in 2023. Consider adopting a dog or cat from a public shelter or private rescue. The list here helps you find one near you. They all need volunteers to transport animals to vet appointments, clean kennels, help train and socialize, and many more tasks. If you cannot adopt, foster or volunteer, consider donating to one of the private nonprofit animal welfare groups. If you cannot donate, network animals needing homes on social media.
Here is the statement by an unknown rescuer:
I need to set the record straight on something. I am not a saint. I am not an angel. In fact, I am a very selfish person. The reason I take in these abused, neglected, unwanted dogs, in particular the seniors, is for my benefit. When you take in one of these animals that someone else considered just trash and see them smile for the first time, I cannot put into words what it does to you but, it changes you. If you have never taken in one of these animals, then you have no idea what I am talking about, but I promise you, it does something to you. It changes your heart. It changes the way you view the world.
To see these animals smile, to see their eyes light up when you walk into a room, to see the way their head tilts to the side when they hear your voice, it changes you. To watch them let go of their horrible past and just enjoy the moment, it changes you. When you see them curl up in a comfy bed, possibly for the very first time, and sleep the deepest sleep they’ve had in a long time, it changes you. To see them excitedly dance around as you are preparing their food or getting out their treats, it changes you. To see their head no longer dip in fear when you reach down to pet them, it changes you. To watch them interact with other dogs and play, possibly for the first time, it changes you. To give them a toy and watch them as they discover the squeaker for the first time, it changes you. To watch them run in the yard, roll in the grass, play in the snow, or lay in the sunshine, it changes you. To have them lay on the sofa with their head in your lap as you stroke their back while a major thunderstorm is rolling through, it changes you. When it is below zero outside and you see them laying in a comfortable bed in the warmth inside your home, it changes you.
To have to help them stand, carry them down the stairs and place them in the grass but then watch them as they struggle through the pain so that they can run and play, it changes you. To hold their head in your hands and stare into their eyes as they take their final breath, it changes you.
These dogs have given me more than I have ever given them. I am the one who is blessed. I am the one who was fortunate enough to be able to spend their final time with them. I am the one who will be eternally thankful that our paths crossed. Every single one of these dogs has a piece of my heart and has changed my soul. As long as there is breath in my body, they will not be forgotten for they have changed me.