Friday, August 7, 2009

The Adoration of Rescue Dogs

My morning routine begins with letting half of my dogs outside, while the others bark, "Not fair! Not fair!" (They don't all play nicely together so they have to take turns.) Then I start coffee and check email. Now when I sit down, I am greeted by my recently returned foster dog, Haven, doing her patented body wag and giving me kisses. If she could talk, I suspect she'd be saying "GOOD Morning!!! I'm thrilled to see you again!!!" There's not a greeting out there that's more exuberant than Haven's.

(You can read Haven's story on the Featured Dogs page on our website.)

I can only try to imagine what goes on in her mind, being home again after 10 months on her own. Whatever she is thinking, it's clear she's able to forget all she's been through, and is simply delighted to be here again.

People comment all the time about how difficult it must be for me to make regular trips to Northwest Ohio dog pounds, to help save some of the dogs who end up there. And yes, it is hard. I see dogs every week who I know have little hope of a second chance, because they're big mixed breeds or older or aren't acting all that nice. Sometimes miracles occur and a truly great "average" dog does get out after all.

(For example, Farrah, whose lucky day came when Nikki Morey and her husband Mike Hart went over to the Fulton County pound to pick up a few other dogs, and ended up with her in their car, too. If you want to adopt a truly wonderful dog who will thank you every day of her life, please consider Farrah.)

It's probably pretty hard for those who haven't been bitten (no pun intended) by the rescue dog bug to understand why we do what we do. All those strange dogs eating our shoes and our new cell phones, all that dog fur!! All the time and money and heartache over dogs?! All the hassles aside, I feel blessed and honored to have made the acquaintance of so many wonderful canines, and you know what, they DO appreciate what we've done for them.

These dogs don't care that the laundry isn't done, or we were rude to someone at work. While some of them have baggage they can't quite leave behind, they don't hold grudges and if you wave them away one day because you're too busy, they'll still be there the next day, wagging their tails and giving you another chance. There's a t-shirt/bumper sticker quote out there that says: "Please help me be the person my dog thinks I am." That sums it up right there. To them, we're heroes, for no reason other than we provide love and care, sometimes the first love and care they've had in their lives. No one else will ever adore you quite as thoroughly and selflessly as a dog who you've rescued.

There's a few lessons in this for all of us, lessons about being grateful for what we have, about letting go of things we can't change. About enjoying this romp in the yard, without worrying so much about whether or not it will rain tomorrow. I know I fall far short of being the kind of person these dogs think I am but I still appreciate their confidence in me. And meanwhile, Haven sleeps a few feet from me on the floor, fields and fears forgotten, just happy to be back with me again.

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