Being a regular volunteer at our local animal rescue group, I constantly meet new animals. I am always curious to the plight that led them to BARL. Were they abandoned? Were they lost? Is anyone looking for them?
I have my own stories that I have witnessed first hand –
Like Clifford. Clifford was a Golden Retriever that stood almost to my hips. His former owners decided they no longer wanted him. They left him tied to a tree and offered him no more food. A neighbor noticed him – emaciated and miserable – and took action. Through a series of events, he ultimately came to live his last days with our family. He was our first therapy dog. He was the one that started us out in the world of rescue. His existence made a difference in our life.
Then there is Puff. Puff was an American Eskimo Dog that was scheduled to be euthanized at a pound three hours from us. She was high on the list, her days quickly dwindling down because she was labeled as aggressive. Because of a deep rooted love for this breed, we decided to bring her to our home. When we picked her up we were informed that she barked non-stop – which is why she’d been left at the pound – and because of her noise making abilities came complete with her own bark collar. Living in a pound with fifty other dogs and wearing a bark collar, every time a human came through the gates to visit the canines, she was sent into chaos and confusion by the high pitch the collar emitted. Thus she associated humans with punishment and humans deemed her as aggressive. Once home with her, I removed the collar. She jumped in my lap and licked my face. We fostered her until a new home could be found.
Other dogs I don’t have as clear of an idea of the situation they are coming from. Like Taffy.
“We found this sweet girl the other night. She’s pretty calm. She might make a good therapy dog. I know she’s not a pom just thought I’d share her with you. I’m going to be super picky with where she goes, she’s going to stay with us until the perfect home is found. She’s not afraid of our dogs and doesn’t mind our cats. She hasn’t had any accidents in the house and slept in bed with us all night curled up by my feet.”
The email was from one of my fellow friends in rescue who knew that we’d been looking for just the right dog to fill the void in our therapy dog outreach since Scarlet’s retirement. I’d wanted something smaller than a Golden Retriever simply because of the ability to transport. I’d been leaning toward a Pomeranian because of their cheery disposition, but something about that sweet face reached a depth in my heart. Maybe she needed us.
The first day at home she followed each person each time someone left the room. The second day wasn’t much different. She accompanied me when I took my fifteen year old daughter to her dance class that night. After Dacey exited the truck and walked into the building, Taffy stood in my lap watching and waiting until she came back. It is that which causes me to feel that she was abandoned. She’s seems to be afraid each time someone leaves her presence that they will be gone for ever.
But she is also calm and accepting of strangers – humans, dogs, and cats alike. She is picky and will only accept certain foods. She always hops at our dinner plates which leads me to believe in her former home she was fed from her owners hands. That isn’t allowed in our family. She is also well mannered and knows basic obedience. She walks at my side with or without a leash, comes when called, and sits and stays. It is that which causes me to believe she was at one time someone’s precious, spoiled baby.
So how did she come to be – alone, abandoned, filthy, and scared – on the side of the road? Did her owner pass away and she was cast aside by remaining family? Did the kids quit showing interest so the parents didn’t want the burden of her any longer? Maybe she had an older teenage daughter – like mine to whom she has quickly bonded – that left for college leaving no one else to love her? I guess I’ll never know for sure.
What I do know is that her plight isn’t a whole lot different than mine. Like Taffy my former life had left me feeling alone, abandoned, filthy, and scared. Jesus found me. He promised, “I will not leave you or forsake you.” He said, “Child, you are mine. I have called you by name.” Jesus loved me, cleaned me up, and gave me a new life. Like Taffy I am now secure in what my future holds. I have been given hope. And like Taffy, Clifford, and Puff – I once was lost, but now I’m found.