March 15th 2012 11:23 pm
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A wise man once said "When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight". We choose to remember the day you came into our lives, not the terrible day that you left...
A little no-kill, privately run shelter called TLC was a nice car ride away. When we arrived at the shelter, we were surprised at how small it was. Walking down the aisle of kennels, maybe 20 in all, we saw dog after dog after dog with some sort of challenge--a cast on a leg here, a cone around the head there... We got to the end and saw a smaller, trembling dog. She didn't come up to the cage door or greet us with a wagging tail--she tried to curl up in a corner and disappear. We shook our heads. We wanted a fun puppy to be a playmate for our 2 young sons. This trembling mass wasn't ANYTHING like that.
We got to the last kennel (next to the shaking dog) and pulled the chain to raise the outside run door. A massive head of a gorgeous Doberman belonging to the shelter owner filled the opening. Whoa! Down went the door! That wasn't a frisky puppy either.
We backed up to the little dog shaking in the corner. And asked the kennel attendant for information. She told us the pup was under a year, six to nine months maybe, still a puppy--a little terrier/whippet mixed female called Butkus relinquished by an elderly woman who couldn't keep up with a puppy.
We asked to take the pup down to the "get acquainted" room. The attendant tried to get the pup to walk, but she was shaking too much. Then the attendant grabbed the pup by the back legs and walked her down the kennel row as if she was participating in a wheel-barrow contest--NOT a good beginning!
This wasn't the friendly, fun-loving puppy we were looking for. But with 2 young boys begging to take ANYTHING home, we signed the papers and took a chance. Butkus sat like a queen in the back seat, one boy on either side. At home, still shaking, but silent, she took her bath like a champ. She silently observed everything going on around her, but would perk her ears up when something caught her attention, then lay them back down. By the end of the day, she was renamed Perky.
Well, turns out the well-meaning kennel attendant trying to get a dog a forever home told a not-too-smart-about-dogs couple what they wanted to hear. Later, our vet told us that Perky wasn't a six month old puppy--by the condition of her teeth she was around 4 YEARS old. By that time, it didn't matter. She was ours, and we were hers.
Perky would always remains a shaker, all the way up to her passing 15 years later. We called her the "spineless wonder" for her ability to worm her way up onto the couch next to someone--you didn't even know she was climbing up--suddenly looking down at your side you'd find her leaning up against you, ducking her head with a sheepish look on her face.
Perky was so very fast--a favorite game was a person clapping their hands at her while she ran laps around our large yard, turning so fast and so sharp that her side almost grazed the ground. But she was terrified of a toy we bought early on--a rubber, squeaky foot with red nail polish. She tried to crawl under the couch when we showed it to her. Was she remembering a real human foot with red nail polish coming her way in anger?
Perky was a wonderful, calm, happy dog. Quiet too (until Auntie Ella taught her to bark for a treat one Sunday afternoon). Not a pure-bred. Not a puppy. Not ANYTHING that we thought we were looking for that afternoon when we set out for the shelter. She was a great dog to teach us how to be responsible, knowledgeable dog owners. But by far, the biggest lesson Perky taught us was to take a chance. Take a chance on that trembling shelter dog hiding in the corner. Maybe she's just afraid of the Doberman next door...
February 28th 2009 8:04 pm
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Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special.
It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the pathway...the ones who had been at Rainbow Bridge for a while...knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times.
Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets who were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their special people could pass over the Rainbow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the Bridge nor on Earth below.
With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly and infirm. Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and waiting.
One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him. "That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired of him. They way you see him now, with graying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels. He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge."
The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?"
As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever. This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life.
From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway. As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together.
The recent arrival who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?"
"That was a rescuer," came the answer. "That person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their families arrive. Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor pets that couldn't find a place on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals."
"I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival.
"So does God," was the reply.