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on animal shelters

This is why I cannot give up my kitties. I could talk about how I view their care as a moral and theological responsibility; and that is all true. But this says it much better than I could.

How could you???

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 bellyrub.

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 have 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 you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.  

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.  


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
So sad how this happens.

Every day.

All the time.


David and I would NEVER move into a place where we couldn't have our animals.

They are our children, our family. You don't toss aside your children and family.
Oct. 28th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
I've read this several times, and each time I either cry, or come so, so close.
What a horrid thing. So, so sad. That poor, sweet dog. People who do this ... well I won't be mean ... but they make me absolutely livid. I can't understand how people can just pass off an animal like it's disposable. I've seen it done far too many times, and each time I get so angry and indignant. I don't understand how people don't care. I can't understand it. It's inconceivable to me.
Then there are those who do care, and who have tried ... and I hurt for that trying, and pain of having to give one up. I remember the grief, the fear, when we thought we'd have to put a couple kitties in shelters...
Oct. 28th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Snickers was one of those guys. He had two weeks to get a home. I brought him home on the tenth day. He was a pup, but he had way too much energy. He was skin and bone when I brought him home. They said he hadn't eaten much since the day he arrived. He bounded to the front of his cage everytime someone came to his cage, but his joy at human contact turned everyone off. My mom said we could see him, but there was no way he was coming home with us. He laid his head on my shoulder and prooved her wrong. More than once, I have been posative he would have protected me with his life. He is my hero, because I know I'm his hero. Thank you for posting this. It reminds me why I stick it out when he is being a perfect example of a brat in the purest form. This piece is tear-jerkingly beautiful.
Oct. 28th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
People really are terrible. I don't know how they can abandon animals.
Oct. 28th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
I could never, ever get rid of my birdie. I have no children. He is my baby. I love him. I spoil him. I share my food with him. (yes, he eats it from my mouth like a baby bird, go ahead say EEEWWWWW, I don't care). When my husband gets ready to leave for work, he brings Timmie into the bedroom. The only place he will sit is on my pillow with me. Yes, this creates multiple pillowcase changes, but again, I don't care. He is my family. I'm his Mama.

When we finally get into a place that is big enough for other animals, I'll be the crazy dog lady. I want many of them.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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