Life4Paws, Animal Rescue, Placement and Education Animal Rescue, Placement and Education
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Poetry

Stories

I Rescued a Human Today
Author Unknown

My Foster Dog
Author Unknown

The Rescue Rainbow Bridge

Living Love
by Martin Scot Kosins

Story Of A Dog's Love

My Dog Lives in this House

My Foster Dog is Beautiful
by Martha O'Connor

I Found Your Dog Today

Potential Puppy Owner's Test
by Joy Henderson

Decorating with Dogs
by Barb Cooke

Beware

Front Page Of Long Island Newsday Today

Sand & Stone

Waiting at the Door
by Barbara J. Crocker

The Starfish

"How Could You?"
by Jim Willis

Message From Max
by J.D.Ellis

"FREE KITTUNS"
by Jim Willis

CHRISTMAS STORY

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Old, tired, weary dog seeks love before crossing that rainbow bridge
by Becky Loyd

A day in the life of Dolly Dog

Animal Voices ~ Stories

I Rescued a Human Today

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life. She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.

Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

~~ Author Unknown ~~


My Foster Dog

My foster dog stinks to high heaven. I don't know for sure what breed he is. His eyes are blank and hard. He won't let me pet him and growls when I reach for him. He has ragged scars and crusty sores on his skin. His nails are long and his teeth, which he showed me, are stained. I sigh. I drove two hours for this. I carefully maneuver him so that I can stuff him in the crate. Then I heft the crate and put it in the car. I am going home with my new foster dog.

At home I leave him in the crate till all the other dogs are in the yard. I get him out of the crate and ask him if he wants "outside." As I lead him to the door he hikes his leg on the wall and shows me his stained teeth again.

When we come in, he goes to the crate because that's the only safe place he sees.

I offer him food but he won't eat it if I look at him, so I turn my back.

When I come back, the food is gone. I ask again about "outside." When we come back, I pat him before I let him in the crate, he jerks away and runs into the crate to show me his teeth.

The next day I decide I can't stand the stink any longer. I lead him into the bath with cheese in my hands. His fear of me is not quite overcome by his longing for the cheese. And well he should fear me, for I will give him a bath. After an attempt or two to bail out he is defeated and stands there. I have bathed four legged bath squirters for more years than he has been alive.

His only defense was a show of his stained teeth, that did not hold up to a face full of water. As I wash him, it is almost as if I wash not only the stink and dirt away but also some of the hardness. His eyes look full of sadness now. And he looks completely pitiful as only a soap covered dog can. I tell him that he will feel better when he is cleaned. After the soap, the towels are not too bad, so he lets me rub him dry.

I take him outside. He runs for joy. The joy of not being in the tub and the joy of being clean. I, the bath giver, am allowed to share the joy. He comes to me and lets me pet him.

One week later I have a vet bill. His skin is healing. He likes for me to pet him. I think. I know what color he will be when his hair grows in. I have found out he is terrified of other dogs. So I carefully introduce him to my mildest four legged brat. It doesn't go well.

Two weeks later a new vet bill for an infection, that was missed on the first visit.

He plays with the other dogs.

Three weeks later his coat shines, he has gained weight. He shows his clean teeth when his tongue lolls out after he plays chase in the yard with the gang. His eyes are soft and filled with life. He loves hugs and likes to show off his tricks, if you have the cheese.

Someone called today and asked about him, they saw the picture I took the first week. They asked about his personality, his history, his breed. They asked if he was pretty. I asked them lots of questions. I checked up on them. I prayed. I said yes.

When they saw him the first time they said he was the most beautiful dog they had ever seen.

Six months later, I got a call from his new family. He is wonderful, smart, well behaved, and very loving. How could someone not want him? I told them I didn't know. He is beautiful. They all are.

~~ Author Unknown ~~


The Rescue Rainbow Bridge

Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals that had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.

It wasn't long before an elderly cat came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often. He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness.

Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again. As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge.

With no place else to turn to, the elderly cat turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other cats like him, also elderly and infirm. They weren't playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting. One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn't understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for awhile to explain it to him.

You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to rescue just as you see him now, an older cat with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge. The first cat 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 gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life. "Watch, and see" said the second feline.

A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or! a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed him towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together. "What happened?" "That was a rescuer." The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of his work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort all those poor animals that they couldn't place on earth, across The Rainbow Bridge.

"I think I like rescuers", said the first animal. "So does God", was the reply.


Living Love

If you ever love an animal, there are three days in your life you will always remember...

The first is a day, blessed with happiness, when you bring home your new friend. You may have spent weeks deciding on a breed. You may have asked numerous opinions of many vets, or done long research in finding a breeder. Or, perhaps in a fleeting moment, you may have just chosen that silly looking mutt in a shelter--simply because something in her eyes reached your heart. But when you bring that chosen pet home, and watch her explore, and claim her special place in your hall or front room--and when you feel her brush against you for the first time--it instills a feeling of pure love you will carry with you through the many years to come.

The second day will occur eight or nine or ten years later. It will be a day like any other. Routine and unexceptional. But, for a surprising instant, you will look at your long-time friend and see age where you once saw youth. You will see slow deliberate steps where you once saw energy. And you will see sleep where you once saw activity. So you will begin to adjust your friend's diet--and you may add a pill or two to her food. And you may feel a growing fear deep within yourself, which bodes of a coming emptiness. And you will feel this uneasy feeling, on and off, until the third day finally arrives.

And on this day--if your friend and God have not decided for you, then you will be faced with making a decision of your own--on behalf of your lifelong friend, and with the guidance of your own deepest Spirit. But whichever way your friend eventually leaves you---you will feel as alone as a single star in the dark night. If you are wise, you will let the tears flow as freely and as often as they must. And if you are typical, you will find that not many in your circle of family or friends will be able to understand your grief, or comfort you.

But if you are true to the love of the companion you cherished through the many joy-filled years, you may find that a soul--a bit smaller in size than your own---seems to walk with you, at times, during the lonely days to come. And at moments when you least expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, you may feel something brush against your leg--very very lightly. And looking down at the place where your dear, perhaps dearest, friend used to lay---you will remember those three significant days.

The memory will most likely be painful, and leave an ache in your heart---As time passes the ache will come and go as it has a life of its own. You will both reject it and embrace it, and it may confuse you. f you reject it, it will depress you. If you embrace it, it will deepen you. Either way, it will still be an ache. But there will be, I assure you, a fourth day when---along with the memory of your companion---and piercing through the heaviness in your heart---there will come a realization that belongs only to you. It will be as unique and strong as our relationship with each animal we have loved, and lost.

This realization takes the form of a Living Love---like the heavenly scent of a rose that remains after the companionals have wilted, this love will remain and grow--and be there for us to remember. It is a love we have earned. It is the legacy our companions leave us when they go. And it is a gift we may keep with us as long as we live. It is a love which is ours alone. And until we ourselves leave, perhaps to join our beloved companions--it is a love that we will always possess.

~~ Martin Scot Kosins ~~


Story Of A Dog's Love

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog, Lucky. Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit, they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably someone would forget and something would come up missing. Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease...she was just sure it was fatal. She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her...what would happen to Lucky? Although the three year old dog liked Jim he was Mary's dog through and through. If I die Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully but the dog just drooped, whining and miserable. But finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap. Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. Panic soon gave way to laughter though when Mary realized the problem....she was covered, literally blanketed in every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement and back bringing his beloved mistress his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love. Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every night. It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky? He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.


(
Although this story could be true we are not sure........)


My Dog Lives in this House

My dog lives in this house. You are welcome to come and visit me anytime but we have a few things that you must understand before you visit. You must expect a few dog hairs to stick to your clothes. I vacuum and clean, but my dog lives here too. 

You may be leaned on and find him in your lap a few times but he does this because he loves people and wants to say Hello. So if you feel that you are too good for his love then you are not welcomed here because this is his home too. 

My dog is well mannered and very clean but if you are one of those people who think all animals are dirty and smell, then go away. You are not the type of person that I care to associate with. If you don't like the sound of barking, then my home is not going to be a comfortable place for you to visit. 

Do not expect me to lock my dog in another room during your visit. I have trained my dog well so he will not do anything to you except maybe want a pat on the head. I will not subject him to feel as if he is being punished by locking him away for no reason. That would be cruel. 

When you walk into my home, be careful not trip on a stuffed toy or ball. These are my dogs treasures and I will not take them away from him just to show you that I keep a clean house. He knows where all his toys are. They may not look like much to you, but to him, they are worth more than gold.

You see, this is OUR home. We have been together since he was a small puppy scampering around the house. I raised him into a well mannered, beautifully behaved dog. 

I am proud of him. I consider him my personal gift from GOD. He has done nothing but give me his endless love and devotion for many years. I love him dearly and want to make his years happy ones. As happy as he made mine. 

When I was sick, he stayed right by my side, as I did his when he is not having a good day. A better friend I could not ask for. 

When no one else cared, my dog did. He has given me nothing but pure joy and I love him endlessly. So please understand that I am not being rude. I'm just looking out for my best friend. 


My Foster Dog is Beautiful

My foster dog stinks to high heaven. I don't know for sure what breed he is. His eyes are blank and hard. He won't let me pet him and growls when I reach for him. He has ragged scars and crusty sores on his skin. His nails are long and his teeth which he showed me are stained. I sigh. I drove two hours for this. I carefully maneuver him so that I can stuff him in the crate. Then I heft the crate and put it in the car. I am going home with my new foster dog. 

At home I leave him in the crate till all the other dogs are in the yard. I get him out of the crate and ask him if he wants 'outside.' As I lead him to the door he hikes his leg on the wall and shows me his stained teeth again. When we come in he goes to the crate because that's the only safe place he sees. I offer him food but he won't eat it if I look at him, so I turn my back. When I come back the food is gone. I ask again about 'outside.' When we come back I pat him before I let him in the crate, he jerks away and runs into the crate to show me his teeth. 

The next day I decide I can't stand the stink any longer I lead him into the bath with cheese in my hand. His fear of me is not quite overcome by his wish for the cheese. And well he should fear me, for I will give him a bath. After an attempt or two to bail out he is defeated and stands there. I have bathed four legged bath squinters for more dog years than he has been alive. His only defense was a show of his stained teeth that did not hold up to a face full of water. As I wash him it is almost as if I wash not only the stink and dirt away but also some of his hardness. His eyes look full of sadness now. And he looks completely pitiful as only a soap covered dog can. I tell him that he will feel better when he is cleaned. After the soap the towels are not too bad so he lets me rub him dry. I take him outside. He runs for joy. The joy of not being in the tub and the joy of being clean. I, the bath giver, am allowed to share the joy. He comes to me and lets me pet him. 

One week later I have a vet bill. His skin is healing. He likes for me to pet him. I think I know what color he will be when his hair grows in. I have found out he is terrified of other dogs. So I carefully introduce him to my mildest four legged brat. It doesn't go well. 

Two weeks later a new vet bill for an infection that was missed on the first visit. He plays with the other dogs. 

Three weeks later he asks to be petted. He chewed up part of the rug. 

Eight weeks later his coat shines, he has gained weight. He shows his clean teeth when his tongue lolls out after he plays chase in the yard with the gang. His eyes are soft and filled with life. He loves hugs and likes to show off his tricks, if you have the cheese. 

Someone called today and asked about him, they saw the picture I took the first week. They asked about his personality, his history, his breed. They asked if he was pretty. I asked them lots of questions. I checked up on them. I prayed. I said yes. When they saw him the first time they said he was the most beautiful dog they had ever seen. 

Six months later I got a call from his new family. He is wonderful, smart, well behaved and very loving. How could someone not want him? 

I told them I didn't know. 

He is beautiful. 

They all are.

~~ Martha O'Connor ~~


I Found Your Dog Today

I found your dog today. No he has not been adopted by anyone. Most of us who live out here own as many dogs as we want, those who do not own dogs do so because they choose not to. I know you hoped he would find a good home when you left him out here, but he did not. When I first saw him he was miles from the nearest house and he was alone, thirsty, thin and limping from a cactus burr in his paw. 

How I wish I could have been you as I stood before him. To have seen his tail wag and his eyes brighten as he bounded into your arms, knowing you would find him, knowing you had not forgotten him. To see the forgiveness in his eyes for the suffering and pain he had known in his never-ending quest to find you...But I was not you. And despite all my persuasion, his eyes beheld a stranger. He did not trust, he would not come. 

He turned and continued his journey; one he was sure would soon bring him to you. He does not understand you are not looking for him. He only knows you are not there, he only knows he must find you. This is more important than food or water or the stranger who can give him these things. 

Persuasion and pursuit seemed futile; I did not even know his name. I drove home, filled a bucket with water and a bowl with food and returned to where we had met. I could see no sign of him, but I left my offering under the tree where he had sought shelter from the sun and a chance to rest. You see, he is not of the desert. When you domesticated him, you took away any instinct of survival out here. His purpose demands that he travel during the day. He doesn't know that the sun and heat will claim his life. He only knows he has to find you. 

I waited hoping he would return to the tree; hoping my gift would build an element of trust so I might bring him home, remove the burr from his paw, give him a cool place to lie and help him understand that the part of his life with you is now over. He did not return that morning and at dusk the water and food were still there untouched. And I worried. You must understand that many people would not attempt to help your dog. Some would run him off, others would call the county and the fate you thought you saved him from would be preempted by his suffering from days without food and water. 

I returned again before dark. I did not see him. I went again early the next morning only to find the food and water still untouched. If only you were here so you could call his name. Your voice is so familiar to him. I began pursuit in the direction he had taken yesterday, doubt overshadowing my hope of finding him. His search for you was desperate, it could take him many miles in 24 hours. 

It is hours later and a good distance from where we first met, but I have found your dog. His thirst has been stopped, it is no longer a torment to him. His hunger has disappeared, he no longer aches. The burrs in his paws bother him no more. Your dog has been set free from his burdens, you see, your dog has died. I kneel next to him and I curse you for not being here yesterday so I could have seen the glow, if just for a moment, in those now vacant eyes. I pray that his journey has taken him to that place I think you hoped he would find. If only you knew what he went through to reach it.... and I agonize, for I know, that were he to awaken at this moment, and (if) I were to be you, his eyes would sparkle with recognition and his tail wag with forgiveness.


Potential Puppy Owner's Test

Are you truly ready for a dog? This is a test that every Potential Puppy Owner (PPO) must pass and, after passing, will be given a license to begin learning about the breed of their choice. 

No physical force, yelling, or cursing is allowed during the test. Protective clothing or soil-proof clothes are not allowed. Small wounds and scratches are to be handled in a blase' manner. Tests will be held in a variety of environments and PPO will enter brush, woods, etc., with a happy face. Any PPO seen wiping dog hair or saliva off their clothing will not pass. 

The tests: 

  1. PPO must control a highly stimulated 10 month old male GSD puppy. PPO must be able to get the dog to do a down in two minutes. Flat buckle collar and nylon lead only.

  2. PPO must stand between a 14 month old Golden Retriever and a field. The handler of the puppy will then throw a ball directly into the path of the Golden. PPO must stand their ground and take their clobbering in good nature.

  3. PPO must serve dinner to 6 Rottweiler puppies, not older than 6 months and not younger than 4 months. PPO must not spill the food and the puppies will not be held in any stay position.

  4. PPO must quiet 4 Shelties, or 6 Pomeranians, when the doorbell rings. PPO has two minutes and the puppies must have been handled previously by a breeder immune to the noise who lives in the middle of nowhere.

  5. PPO must hold their ground with 10 Jack Russell chasing an animal they perceive as prey. PPO must hold their leashes and not move more than 6 inches. No corrections may be issued, but PPO is welcome to try to distract them.

  6. PPO must walk 2 Great Danes on ice. PPO must not move more than 100 feet.

  7. PPO must play with a Newfoundland after the dog has been swimming in a pond. They must attempt to dry themselves with a dishtowel. At no time will the PPO appear disgusted.

  8. PPO must leave 3 Huskies alone in their home, uncrated, for 3 hours. PPO is allowed to cry upon return.

  9. PPO must groom an adult male collie blowing coat completely within 25 minutes, ears, nails, teeth and coat. The dog will have been recently bathed to give PPO a fighting chance.

  10. PPO must fit a Basenji into a winter coat within 5 minutes. Basenji cannot have worn a coat before.

  11. PPO must removes thistles from an English Setter by hand with a fine-toothed comb.

  12. PPO must exercise a Viszla that has not been out for 2 days. PPO must not tire out before the dog.

  13. PPO must sleep in the same room as a bulldog. If the PPO cannot sleep, they must be happy in the morning.

  14. PPO will navigate through 10 small dogs without stepping on one.

  15. PPO must be able to secure a good supply of used plastic bags within 3 days.

  16. PPO must be able to successfully get a dog to throw up in a plastic grocery bag while in the passenger seat of a car.

  17. PPO must not die of shock when they get the vet bill for neutering a Mastiff.

  18. PPO must sit in a closed room with two dogs that were fed broccoli and beans and exhibit no disgusted facial expressions.

  19. PPO must vow to nurture, love, train and care for their dogs for the rest of the dog's life. PPO must accept that each dog is an individual which needs to live in a pack. PPO must vow to educate themselves about the breed of their choice and requirements expected. PPO must vow to obtain his dog from a reputable shelter/rescue/breeder. Furthermore PPO must conduct themselves in a responsible manner, securing liberties for the rest of the dog-loving community.

  20. PPO must remain good-humored and remember that for every insane, tough moment there will be a hundred more good ones.

~~ Joy Henderson ~~


Decorating with Dogs

Decorating when you have pets can provide unique opportunities to express your own personal style and taste. Here are some tips I'd like to share: 

  1. Bare floors, without carpet or throw rugs, can give a nice open feeling to a room. It can provide a soothing balance when you have many art objects that reflect your love of animals.

  2. Paw prints and nose smudges on glass doors and windows break up glare and soften the light in a room.

  3. Dog crates, when stacked three high, can add height to a room and pull the eye up. If fastened securely to the wall, the top can provide a safe and dramatic place for exotic plants or statuary that otherwise might be molested by your pets. An up light can make it a real focal point. Cats love to inhabit the upper crates, leaving the lower ones for the dogs.

  4. Old towels and blankets thrown casually on upholstered furniture can add a wonderful homey, country-quilt look to an otherwise bland room.

  5. Common smooth upholstery fabrics can look almost velvety when lightly textured with pet hair.

  6. Vari-kennels, placed end to end and topped with plate glass can create an unusual coffee table, one your friends will really remember.

  7. Doggie beds, randomly placed around a room, can add color and texture, much as throw pillows do.

  8. Shredded or chewed books and magazines send a message to guests that they are free to relax and feel at home.

  9. Dog crates can make versatile end tables, and can be slip covered to match any room decor.

  10. There is absolutely nothing that makes a guest feel as welcome as three friendly dogs hopping in his lap as soon as he sits down.

So throw away those videos by Martha and others, and express your own unique tastes. Your home should reflect what YOU like! 

~~ Barb Cooke ~~


Beware

Upon entering the little country store, the stranger noticed a sign saying, "DANGER! BEWARE OF DOG!" posted on the glass door. Inside, he noticed a harmless old hound dog asleep on the floor besides the cash register.

He asked the store manager, "Is THAT the dog folks are supposed to beware of?"

"Yep, that's him," he replied.

The stranger couldn't help but be amused. "That certainly doesn't look like a dangerous dog to me. Why in the world would you post that sign?"

"Because," the owner replied, "before I posted that sign, people kept tripping over him."


Front Page Of Long Island Newsday Today

May 16, 2002

Pam Sica had left her 3-week-old baby on the bed for just a moment when her golden retriever started to bark.

The new mother, who was warming up a bottle in the kitchen, asked the pooch if he wanted to go outside. But tired old Bullet just bounced on his front legs and continued to bark.

When Sica headed next into the bathroom to say something to her showering husband, Bullet really went wild. He started running back and forth from Sica to the room where little Troy Joseph was sleeping.

When Sica then followed Bullet into her son's room, what she saw stunned her. The 8-pound infant was blue, his head was thrown back, and a terrible gurgling sound was coming from his throat.

Sica screamed for her husband, who shot out of the shower and immediately began CPR on the baby - something he remembered from an educational film he'd seen in high school. She also called 911, and within minutes, an ambulance had arrived.

"The paramedics told us that, if we had found Troy 10 seconds later, something terrible could have happened," Sica said. "Bullet saved his life."

Troy was rushed to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue, where he was stabilized. He was then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs.

He was released from the hospital yesterday after a two-week stay.

"A few seconds could have made a huge difference," said Paolo Coppola, who heads the Emergency Department at Brookhaven Memorial, adding that major brain damage can occur in just four minutes. "The longer the baby goes without air, the more dangerous it is."

If fate hadn't taken a couple of wild turns in the past two years, neither Troy nor Bullet would have been in the Sica's Bellport home on the May night when the emergency happened.

When Pam Sica got pregnant last year, she and her husband Troy Sr. had long given up their 10-year struggle to have a child. She is 43, and had a complicated pregnancy, but when Troy was delivered healthy on April 10, they called it a perfect miracle.

Likewise, Bullet, who is ancient by retriever standards, almost didn't make it to May. Two years ago he got a tumor on his liver, and the vet advised Sica to euthanize him.

"He said, why would you go into debt to save a 13-year-old dog? He's going to die soon anyway!" Sica said.

Still, Sica took out a $5,000 loan to remove Bullet's tumor. She now believes that decision saved her son's life.

Dogs are often able to detect changes in a room that people don't notice because they rely on their keen senses, not just their intellect, said Ralph Fuellbier, the trainer for the Suffolk County Police K-9 Unit.

"The dog was probably used to baby's normal behavior," said Fuellbier. "When the baby stopped breathing, the dog probably noticed something was different and started whining and barking."

It is because dogs are so perceptive that people use them as guards to listen for unusual noises, and police use them to sniff for drugs and bombs, Fuellbier said.

Only this year, a golden Labrador retriever in Toronto was credited with digging out a man buried in an avalanche, and a German shepherd in Florida saved its family in a house fire. Heroic dogs even went Hollywood in February when Drew Barrymore's dog Flossie saved the actress and her then-fiance Tom Green from a house fire.

Sica, who honored Bullet with a steak dinner yesterday, says she's just glad her hero dog was there when she needed him.

"Bullet has always been my baby," Sica said. "Now he's saved my little boy."

 


Sand & Stone

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE."

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE."

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?" The other friend replied: "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away!!! But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it!!!"

LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE!!!

A Special Person:
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.


Waiting at the Door

My grandmother became a widow in 1970. Shortly after that, we went to the animal shelter to pick out a puppy to keep her company. Grandma decided on a little terrier that spots, the dog was promptly named Penny. 

Grandma and Penny quickly became very attached to each other, but that attachment grew much stronger about three years later when Grandma had a stroke. Grandma could no longer work, so when she came home from the hospital, she and Penny were constant companions. 

After her stroke, it became a real problem for Grandma to let Penny in and out because the door was at the bottom of a flight of stairs. So a mechanism using a rope and pulley was installed from the back door to a handle at the top of the stairs. Grandma just had to pull the handle to open and close the door. If the store was out of Penny's favorite dog food, Grandma would make one of us cook Penny browned beef with diced potatoes in it. I can remember teasing my grandmother that she loved that dog better than she loved her family. 

As the years passed, Grandma and Penny became inseparable. Grandma's old house could be filled to the brim with people, but if Grandma went to take her nap, Penny walked along beside her and stayed by her side until she awoke. As Penny aged, she could no longer jump up on the bed to lay next to Grandma, so she laid on the rug beside the bed. If Grandma went into the bathroom, Penny would hobble along beside her, wait outside the door and accompany her back to the bed or chair. Grandma never went anywhere without her faithful companion by her side. 

The time came when both my grandmother and Penny's health were failing fast. Penny couldn't get around very well, and Grandma had been hospitalized several times. My uncle and I lived with Grandma, so Penny was never left alone, even when Grandma was in the hospital. During these times, Penny sat at the window looking out for the car bringing Grandma home and would excitedly wait at the door when Grandma came through it. Each homecoming was a grand reunion between the two. 

On Christmas Day in 1985, Grandma was again taken to the hospital. Penny, as usual, sat watching out the window for the car bringing Grandma home. Two mornings later when the dog woke up, she couldn't seem to work out the stiffness in her hips as she usually did. The same morning, she began having seizures. At age fifteen, we knew it was time. My mother and aunt took her to the veterinarian and stayed with her until the end. 

Now the big dilemma was whether to tell Grandma while she was still in the hospital or wait. The decision was made to tell her while she was in the hospital because when we pulled up at the house, the first thing Grandma would look for was her beloved Penny watching out the window and then happily greeting her at the door. Grandma shed some tears but said she knew that it had to be done so Penny wouldn't suffer. 

That night while still in the hospital, Grandma had a massive heart attack. The doctors frantically worked on her but could not revive her. After fifteen years of loving companionship, Grandma and Penny passed away within a few hours of each other. God had it all worked out - Penny was waiting at door when Grandma came Home. 

~~ Barbara J. Crocker ~~


The Starfish

One day a man was taking a sunrise walk along a beach. In the distance he caught sight of a young woman who seemed to be dancing along the waves. As he got closer he saw that the young woman was actually not dancing, but picking up starfish from the sand and tossing them gently back into the ocean.

"What are you doing?" the man asked.

"The sun is coming up and the tide is going out; if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But young woman, there are miles and miles of beach with starfish all along it--you can't possibly make a difference." 

The young woman bent down, picked up another starfish, and placed it lovingly back into the ocean, past the breaking waves.

"It made a difference for that one," she replied.

************************************************************************

If you give of your life energy to help animals, professionally or as a volunteer, you know this story. You live it. You know the urges of compassion; you know the driving desire to help. And you know the pain of seeing how many more there are, and the pain of realizing you can't save them all. And you know the joy and fulfillment that comes from helping and saving the ones you can.

Giving love and support to animals in need, animals in pain, is a sacred thing. It fulfills our own healthy need to give, to help, and to love. Along with the rewards, there can be heartache in helping animals, deep wrenching heartache. Continued exposure to the results of cruelty, ignorance and apathy toward animals, seeing the suffering, the lack of compassion and love in others' actions toward animals can burn us out. It can turn us hard with anger. It can make us feel lost in anguish and hopelessness. Whatever our role, wherever we work--animal rescue work, sheltering work, animal control work, political activism work, as volunteer, employee, supervisor, administrator, board member, in an open admission or a limited admission facility--this work requires more than a mere sentimental love of animals. It's hard work which requires tremendous emotional fortitude and can drain our resources physically, emotionally and spiritually. In devoting ourselves to a cause, we can lose ourselves. Sometimes all that compassion we feel and give to the animals and the causes we've dedicated ourselves to can take so much out of us we don't have much energy left for ourselves. Sometimes it seems all we have has been given away.

Compassion fatigue is what we feel when we've cared for others more than ourselves, when our sense of responsibility to others has become exaggerated or out of balance. Do you ever feel that you:

  • Love and care for animals or others more than yourself? 

  • Actually take on the suffering of animals or others, actually feel their suffering and keep it as if it were our own? 

  • Feel compelled to rescue every one, make it all better, fix it or solve problems for every animal or person you help? And feel like a failure when you can't? 

  • Focus your energy on others' pain and trauma as a way of avoiding and working on your own issues in need of healing? 

  • Sometimes feel almost addicted to helping and being needed? 

If any of these issues are true of you, you may be experiencing compassion fatigue. The following pages are offered as resources to help you balance loving yourself with caring for others--still feeling the joy of giving and helping but in a way which allows you to be whole at the same time. Caring for ourselves and not others is selfishness. Caring for others and not ourselves is martyrdom. Caring for ourselves and others is the most healthy balance of loving, and perhaps living, that we can achieve.

The opposite of stress or compassion fatigue is the state of inner peace. Inner peace is easy to experience when no conflict exists for us. If all humans practiced responsible pet ownership, if all humans wanting a companion animal rescued through adoption rather than adding to overpopulation through breeder and pet store purchases, if all pet owners spayed and neutered their animals, if all pet owners worked hard to find solutions to keep their animals rather than easily surrendering them, if all landlords allowed pets, if there were enough homes for every animal in every shelter, if no animals were either euthanized or kept long term in cages, if all organizations and agencies worked in respectful collaboration... well, in such ideal circumstances, experiencing inner peace in the midst of animal welfare work would be easy! But we have mountains to climb, solutions to create and work through together, even when we disagree. Yet amidst such challenge finding inner peace, and integrating beliefs, actions and practices which help us maintain it, is also a tremendous opportunity for growth. It is an opportunity to deepen our care and love of ourselves and our respect of others. It is an opportunity to learn to love ourselves and others in a way that can, perhaps, even match our love of animals.

Finding inner peace, preventing, coping with and healing compassion fatigue, is not a once and done activity. It's not a finite project like building a house. It's more like the ongoing creation of a garden. It's never done. It requires ongoing attention. Yet, like the joy of tending and continually creating a garden, there can be great joy and satisfaction in tending to our own bodies, hearts and souls. Yes, service to the animals is sacred. And so is taking great care of ourselves.

I hope you will find the following pages and links to further resources helpful.

These pages are dedicated to animal welfare workers everywhere. It is you--shelter workers, animal control workers, rescue and rehab workers--who are the true heroes in the circle of all of us who love animals. It is you who do the hardest work for the animals of our communities. Thank you for the tireless, endless, thankless work you do to rescue, love, care for, adopt and sometimes have to euthanize animals that other members of your community neglect, abuse, abandon and throw away at your shelters' doors.

Thank you for enduring the on-going sorrow, anger, frustration and guilt you often have, for the love, compassion and courage you so freely give. May you always have the strength, support and resources you need to carry on. May the care and love you've bestowed upon so many animals be returned to you tenfold.

Know that you are acknowledged, deeply respected, and loved. Thank you for being there for the animals.

Namaste'

2000, 2001 Teresa Wagner
www.Animalsinourhearts.com


"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 good-bye 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.

~~ Copyright Jim Willis 2001 ~~


Message From Max

My name is Max & I have a little something I'd like to whisper in your ear. I know you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise. It always seems like you're running here & there, often much to fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life. Look down at me now, while you sit there at your computer. See the way my dark brown eyes look at yours? They are slightly cloudy now, that comes with age. The gray hairs are beginning to ring my soft muzzle. You smile at me; I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit, a soul inside who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrongdoing for just a simple moment of your time?

That is all I ask. To slow down if even for a few minutes to be with me. So many times you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen, of others of my kind passing. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes we age so slowly before your eyes that you do not even seem to know, until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract clouded eyes. Still the love is always there, even when we take that long sleep, to run free in distant lands.

I may not be here tomorrow; I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the waters from your eyes, that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just "One more day" with me.

Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me. We have now, together. So come, sit down here next to me on the floor. And look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard & deep enough we will talk you & I, heart to heart. Come to me not as "alpha" or as a "trainer" or even a "Mom or Dad", come to me as a living soul & stroke my fur & let us look deep into one another's eyes & talk. I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general. You decided to have me in your life (I hope) because you wanted a soul to share just such things with. Someone very different from you, and here I am. I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a "Dog on two feet" I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still. Now, come sit with me, on the floor. Enter my world, and let time slow down if even for only 15 minutes. Look deep in my eyes, and whisper to my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow, and life is oh so very short.


Love,
Max (on behalf of all canines everywhere)

~~ J.D.Ellis 2001~~
rottweilerdriver@aol.com


"FREE KITTUNS"

The sign on the mailbox post was hand-lettered on cardboard and read "FREE KITTUNS." It appeared there two or three times a year, sometimes spelled this way, sometimes that, but the message was always the same.

In a corner of the farmhouse back porch was a cardboard box with a dirty towel inside, on which huddled a bouquet of kittens of different colors, mewing and blinking and waiting for their mama to return from hunting in the fields. The mother cat managed to show them enough interest for the first several weeks, but after having two or three litters per year, she was worn out and her milk barely lasted long enough for her babies to survive.

One by one, people showed up over the next several days and each took a kitten. Before they left the woman who lived there always said the same thing, "You make sure you give that one a good home - I've become very attached to that one."

One by one the kittens and their new people drove down the long driveway and past the sign on the mailbox post, "FREE KITTUNS."

The ginger girl kitten was the first to be picked. Her four-year-old owner loved her very much, but the little girl accidentally injured the kitten's shoulder by picking her up the wrong way. She couldn't be blamed really - no adult had shown her the proper way to handle a kitten. She had named the kitten "Ginger" and was very sad a few weeks later when her older brother and his friends were playing in the living room and someone sat on the kitten.

The solid white boy kitten with blue eyes was the next to leave with a couple who announced even before they went down the porch steps that his name would be "Snowy." Unfortunately, he never learned his name and everyone had paid so little attention to him that nobody realized he was deaf. On his first excursion outside he was run over in the driveway by a mail truck.

The pretty gray and white girl kitten went to live on a nearby farm as a "mouser." Her people called her "the cat," and like her mother and grandmother before her she had many, many "free kittuns," but they sapped her energy. She became ill and died before her current litter of kittens was weaned.

Another brother was a beautiful red tabby. His owner loved him so much that she took him around to meet everyone in the family and her friends, and their cats, and everyone agreed that "Erik" was a handsome boy. Except his owner didn't bother to have him vaccinated. It took all the money in her bank account to pay a veterinarian to treat him when he became sick, but the doctor just shook his head one day and said "I'm sorry."

The solid black boy kitten grew up to be a fine example of a tomcat. The man who adopted him moved shortly thereafter and left "Tommy" where he was, roaming the neighborhood, defending his territory, and fathering many kittens until a bully of a dog cornered him.

The black and white girl kitten got a wonderful home. She was named "Pyewacket." She got the best of food, the best of care until she was nearly five years old. Then her owner met a man who didn't like cats, but she married him anyway. Pyewacket was taken to an animal shelter where there were already a hundred cats. Then one day, there were none.

A pretty woman driving a van took the last two kittens, a gray boy and a brown tiger-striped girl. She promised they would always stay together. She sold them for fifteen dollars each to a laboratory. To this day, they are still together...in a jar of alcohol.

For whatever reason - because Heaven is in a different time zone, or because not even cat souls can be trusted to travel in a straight line without meandering - all the young-again kittens arrived at Heaven's gate simultaneously. They batted and licked each other in glee, romped for awhile, and then solemnly marched through the gate, right past a sign lettered in gold: "YOU ARE FINALLY FREE, KITTENS."

~~ Copyright Jim Willis 2001 ~~
tiergarten@onebox.com
http://jimwillis0.tripod.com/tiergarten/


CHRISTMAS STORY

Long ago in the deepest of winters all of the animals on Earth were abuzz with the news. "HE IS BORN! HE IS BORN!" cried the snowy owl. "Come one and all, rejoice!" roared the mighty lion. "Bring gifts to the new King!"

The forest grew bright with the din of excitement. Every creature was running towards the star. The noise was so loud and joyful that it traveled distant lands. In a quiet glen, under a bramble bush, a small lonely dog raised his head from his slumber and heard the sounds from afar. He raised his little head and wondered. Slowly he raised his tired body and sniffed the air.

He knew something was amiss - but he knew not what. A voice ever so sweet was singing in the distance, this he could hear. The words were not at all clear, but the sound was of waterfalls, and misty mornings and everything dear... Eagerly he followed the sound and soon saw a star. It shone so brightly his little eyes watered. What was this shiny thing that happily glowed? What could be happening that would bring about such a lovely sight?

His little legs beat the path for many days. He became tired and hungry but still he walked on. He had to follow the sound of that voice. The voice that reminded him of warmer and kinder times. He had to follow the light of the star. The star told him of happy things to come.

At last he came into a clearing and his eyes beheld a mystifying sight. Animals were everywhere, and each had a precious gift. Some brought shiny berries from the forest, some brought beautiful leaves, some brought twigs from the rarest of trees and even some brought the most precious wildflowers of the fields. They were laying these gifts at the entrance of a stable. Above the stable the light of the star twinkled more brightly than before.

He turned to the deer and asked: "What is all this? Where have I come?" "You have come to see the new King. He is Born. Where are your gifts for the child?" asked the deer reproachfully. "I have no gifts..I didn't know..." said the lonely little dog with his head hung low. The deer sneered and snubbed and quickly walked away as he tossed his head indignantly.

The little dog's body trembled all over, his little tail flew between his little legs, and his little head hung lower than ever. He was ashamed. And yet...he still wanted to get a little peek at the New King. Quietly, ever so carefully, he crept over to the stable. He was so small he could easily hide under the other animals. Ever so sleekly he crept up to the manger and peeked inside. "WHO ARE YOU!" boomed the voice of the Lion. "WHY DO YOU DARE NOT BRING GIFTS FOR THE NEW KING?" and the little dog cowered, much humbled. He laid his little head at the foot of the manger and hid his eyes. He was ready to be killed by the Lion, and yet he spoke ever so quietly, ever so meekly, ever so bravely: "I have no gifts, I have no berries, or twigs, or bright flowers of the field...all I have is my life and I will gladly give that, for I have shamed all my brethren tonight."

He waited - with his eyes closed, thinking that if he did die tonight, at least he would die beneath the cradle of his King. That's when a warm and gentle hand was upon him. He did not dare to open his eyes, until he heard a woman's voice speak: "Do not fear little one. You are safe here. This bramble in your fur speaks of the gift you have brought to him." The lonely little dog opened his eyes and looked up at the woman. "But I have no gift to offer, save for myself, and that is very little..."he shyly protested.

The woman smiled and scratched his ears. "Little dog, you traveled far to see the King..that is gift enough when it comes from your heart. What gift is more precious than one given in innocence and humility? No little one, you are welcome here." As she spoke she raised the little dog up. "Behold, your King, the Son of Man. You shall serve him well." And the baby smiled.

So it came to pass and dog was lonely no more. And dog has served man ever since, loyal to a fault, and humble he remains. A gift from God to us, for who, but dog will travel miles without explanation?

Who, but dog will cower from you even if he is not wrong?

Who, but dog will take a scolding even when he is not to blame?

Who, but dog is content to die at our feet if he so must?

Let us care for it well. 


Advertisement in paper

The following ad appeared in a newspaper.

"SBF Seeks Male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a svelte, good-looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods. Riding in your pickup truck. Hunting. Camping. Fishing trips. Cozy winter nights spent lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I'm yours. Call 555-XXXX and ask for Daisy."

(The phone number was the Humane Society and Daisy was an eight week old black Labrador Retriever.)


Old, tired, weary dog seeks love before crossing that rainbow bridge

I went out last night, just after midnight, to make sure all the heat lamps were working in the goat, chicken and turkey houses. The temperature was supposed to go to zero or below. All the dogs had long gone to bed and the night was silent. Stepping on the porch I was greeted with the sight of a crystal clear sky and multitudes of stars. Turning on the flashlight(we refuse to have one of those blasted dusk to dawn monstrosities that keep the stars from shining) I made my way to the barn. Earlier in the evening I had taken some straw to freshen the farm animal's bedding, and had dropped a flake outside the gate that I failed to retrieve.

Walking down the drive, I saw a set of bloody paw prints pressed into the snow, that came out of the woods and ended at the pile of straw by the gate. Curled on the pile of straw was a dog. Medium sized. Could have been any kind of dog. It was hard to tell in the darkness. The only thing for sure was that it was a dark color. I put my hand on the back and felt cold ribs. I took my gloves off and felt behind the front leg. A heart beat. Then I heard a faint thump. The end of the tail was going up and down making a slight impression in the snow, but the head didn't move. I saw the deep brown eyes that seemed to say, "please don't run me off. I can't take another step." The feet were cracked and bleeding. I checked to make sure the heat lamps were working and gently scooped up the frozen dog. No resistance, just the thump of the tail. Not much weight for the size of the bundle. I made my way to the front door.

Coming inside I laid the dog down inside the door. It never moved. Checking to make sure everyone was still asleep, I began the search for a blanket. I was pretty sure we had used the last dog blanket for our latest rescue. Nothing in the closet, nothing in the dryer, nothing on the couch. I went to the bedroom and gently retrieved the one off the bed.

Even it was old and beginning to fray around the edges, but it was the last one available. I folded it and set it by the heat register closest to the furnace. Then I picked up the dog and laid it down on top.

After midnight, on New Year's Eve, in a very rural area of Southwest Missouri? No way I could get a Vet to see this one tonight. We would have to try tomorrow. I went to the kitchen and took a container of chicken broth out of the fridge and popped in the microwave. I went back to the living room and set the bowl down next to the blanket, within easy reach of the cold nose. Another thump of the tail, was the only movement. I reached down and put my hand under the chin, gently lifting the head. Now inside I could see that the dog was black, at least on the parts that had not turned grey. Almost the entire face showed the white signs of time past, and the pupils surrounded by those dark brown eyes were blue. The ears were that of a Lab and so was the tail which thumped every time I came near. The body was skin and bone. There were no front teeth. The canines were worn or broken down to nubs, and I was able to see three teeth in the back. I didn't want to pry to see if the old dog was a male or female. It really didn't matter anyway. I told the old dog I was going to go to bed and patted it's head which was met by another thump of the tail.

On my way to the bedroom, I wondered how in the world the dog had gotten to our farm. It came through the woods which were large and uninhabited. I also wondered why here. The answer was simple. The hand of God had brought the old dog to the right place.

It's morning now and I've been up for a few hours. The bowl of broth was empty and the blanket was much as I had left it. No bloody paw prints on the carpet, only on the old blanket. Sometime after I went to bed, the old dog lapped up the chicken broth and licked the bowl clean. The blanket had been fluffed a little and the old dog had curled into a tight ball with the nose tucked inside the tail. When I bent down to say good morning, there was no thump of the tail. I knew then that the old dog had crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the night. Kneeling there in front of the old dog, I thanked God for the one old blanket I had left and for the hand that gently guided the old dog to Rainbow Farms. It was then that I thought of the poem that Walt had written for us: 

"Listen to the kindness, spoken softly,
Often lost behind the tears.
Place your hand upon my shoulder,
Let it take away my fears."
--Walt Zientek

May the New Year bring you closer to the hand of God, and all the old blankets you may need.

-Becky

Becky Loyd, Rescue Coordinator
The Rainbow Farms Project, Inc.: "A Special Place for Special Animals"
www.rainbowfarms.org


A day in the life of Dolly Dog

5:30 am: 
Started the day as a hero!! When the sound of the newspaper hitting the driveway roused me from my deep slumber, the impact indicating the paper was much heavier than normal. I realized that no one in the house was yet awake! I roused my master by licking him in the face. He appeared very angry with himself for having overslept, shouting and waving his arms.

His ill temper even seemed directed at me a bit, which is silly since it is I who saved him from being fired. Funny thing though. He didn't go to work, but spent the morning leafing through the large newspaper and drinking coffee. He seems to do this once a week, and I don't know why.

7:30 am: 
Invaders! The people who live next door came out into their yard, obviously getting ready to lay siege to our house. Snarling and barking, I let them know in no uncertain terms that I was prepared to tear them from limb to limb it they came any closer, and was able to repel the invasion. This is an almost daily occurrence; you'd think they'd learn. My master added his voice to the fray as well, yelling angrily. I am sure the people couldn't hear him, but it was nice of him to lend his support.

10:00 am: 
I was forced to move, as the patch of sun in which I was lying had, for some reason, slid over a few feet. It's not easy being a dog.

1:00 p.m.: 
I have the most thoughtful master in the world! While it's true he left me alone in the house for several hours, he did set out a treat for me on the kitchen counter. It was even gift-wrapped, a courtesy I wish he'd skipped, since it led to me having a lot of plastic in my teeth. The roast was delicious, though frozen in the center. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but crunching through two inches of rock-hard beef is hardly my idea of a delicacy.

2:00 p.m.: 
Most unpleasant experience when my master returned home and was furious that I had not eaten the plastic wrap which had been covering my present. He kept pointing at the small pieces of Styrofoam and other debris and raving in a most irrational fashion. I'm sorry, but he should know that I can't eat that stuff; it makes my stomach upset. When he began rolling up a newspaper I realized he'd lost all reason and bolted for the front door, which was fortunately open just a crack.

4:00 p.m.: 
Spent the afternoon with the girls. A most productive day; I was able to mark territory for two blocks. "Drip 'til you drop" is our motto. We had a small snack at an outdoor cafe we like, with meat scraps and bread served out of circular containers with easily displaced lids.

5:00 p.m.: 
What a treat! On the way home a flock of ravens drew my attention to a squirrel that had been flattened by an automobile. After several days in the sun, the aroma was so delicious it made my nose quiver. I rolled in the wondrous fragrance for several minutes, and when I stood up I positively radiated eau de roadkill.

6:00 p.m.: 
Of all the times to get a bath! My master, still in a foul mood, made me stand outside in the chill air while he shampooed and rinsed me several times. Every time I shook the water from my fur he, too, became drenched, and in the end he was shivering. Why in the world does he do stuff like this?

9:00 p.m.: 
Time to sleep, though I am not allowed on the bed whenever anyone's home. Ah, the life of a dog.