Many people have asked me how I can continue to go to a shelter where I know animals are going to die. Sometimes, though I have no intention of stopping, I ask myself the same question. Or, at least a similar one…”How much can my heart take?” When things get super urgent for a dog I have met, invested time, energy and love in, I find myself fighting multiple internal battles. First and foremost, wanting to go save the dog myself and running through a list of scenarios and in which I could do so. After abandoning that idea, because in most cases it simply isn’t doable, I start thinking about what else I could have done. Could I have posted more on Facebook? Could I have worked more with the dog? Could my ads have been catchier? My pictures better? The answer is that I am only a small part of the picture. And, I know that I am not the only one who goes through this, and quite frankly, that makes it more bearable.
The most recent example of this is my Pen Pal, Gidget. I had grown increasingly concerned about her as time went on. Her frustration was growing, her energy becoming more unfocused and Nora (my co-Pen Pal) and I had received very little interest in her. Nora and I were able to see what she was capable of and how good of a dog she could be for someone and it was heartbreaking that it seemed there were no adoption prospects who could. Gidget is smart as a whip, and training with her was amazing. Her ability to focus on what her human is asking of her was astounding..and we both believed that once in a home, her unfocused energy and frustration would work itself out with some more training and consistency.
While all dogs at the shelter are considered urgent, there comes a point when things become “super” urgent. Monday was that day for Gidget. I immediately got in contact with Nora, who ran down to the shelter. I didn’t want to leave the house, because Jenga, our foster dog, has a bad ear infection and was really not feeling well, so, I manned the computer. I watched the shelter Facebook pages and checked my email continually. And, it paid off….at very close to the last minute. At 7:16, I switched back to my email from Facebook, and I had an email from someone wanting to know if it was too late. I could not believe it! I wasted no time on pleasantries and told her that if she was going, she needed to go NOW…her response: “On my way”. I called Nora to let her know to be on the lookout and she and a few volunteers kept Gidget happy and busy until the person arrived. The adopter fell quickly in love and after a few hours of tips, offers of support and (happy) tearful goodbyes, Gidget went on to her new life, with a mom and 2 teenaged boys.
So, despite the heartbreak, the endless stream of dumped dogs, the tears and the uncertainty; I keep going back. Because of days like Monday…because there are other dogs who don’t make it and were just as deserving of a new life. Monday also helped Paul and I make another decision that was difficult to make. As much as we love her, and as well as she fits in, we will not be keeping Jenga. We had toyed with the idea of keeping her once it was clear how well she fit in with everyone else, but, we brought her in to let her go and we are going to stick with the plan. If we keep Jenga, we cannot bring another dog in need home. Monday was a stark reminder of what we set out to do: save dog’s lives. Jenga has what sounds to be the perfect adopter interested in her and we are meeting on Sunday. If all goes well, Jenga will go live with them Mid-April. Once I get back from my seminar with The Academy for Dog Trainers and dog*tec in May (which is a big deal for me, since it’s in California and I hate to fly!), we will plan to bring in our next foster…and fall in love and say goodbye when the time is right.
This is an endless roller-coaster of emotions to be sure. But, a most worthwhile one. An update this morning from her adopter said that Gidget is doing well and people obviously don’t know a good thing when they see it and she felt like she hit the jackpot with her! And, really…I mean…look at this face!! Doesn’t she deserve the absolute best life possible?
Best wishes for a happy, happy life sweet Gidget