Far from my general stories on my blog, I kept this story in my draft queue from January, unsure about posting a story like this. However, I figured that most readers fancy a good love story and dogs.
Hence the post.
I volunteer at a local animal shelter and I love tending to all the dogs there. The instant gratitude and love that a dog has for you feels like a warm hug. If you ever want to feel needed and wanted, care for a shelter dog or look into your own dogs eyes. Their desire for your companionship is a beautiful thing and such a simple and sweet pleasure.
Last year, Fred came in looking rag-torn and he smelled like a dump-heap. In addition to his lovely fragrance, he looked like he was hit with the ugly stick several times, which only added to his charm. Part pit-bull and bulldog, around ten years old, he was 95 pounds of dirt, stink, and goof.
Looking down at his happy face, I knew right then and there, I loved him.
I spent extra hours volunteering just to be with him. I would prepare his treats, take him for walks and hang out with him in his kennel with his head into my lap. Every weekend that passed my fondness for him grew.
At the end of our visits, I would drive away from the shelter with a worry filled mind. What if he wasn’t adopted soon? Would he be put down because he was an ugly and older dog? Generally, people don’t want an older dog but being ugly and a pit-bull sure wasn’t going to help his situation.
Thoughts about how I could keep him kept me up at night. I couldn’t bear the thought of being without Fred or at least making sure I could find him a good home.
I started operation Fred … I tried to get my condo association to change their no dog policy, begged my parents to take him, asked my parents neighbors if they wanted a great dog, pleaded with my friends, co-workers and acquaintances to adopt him.
I was told no, time and time again.
I was desperate and they weren’t interested. Isn’t that always the way?
Then one day, I went to his kennel and Fred was gone. I could feel the lump in my throat as I stood there just looking into his empty cage. The volunteer at the front desk couldn’t tell me if he was adopted or sent away to live at a different shelter or … worse.
I felt that familiar sad feeling of a heavy heart and I couldn’t believe he was gone. I mourned the loss of him and while I‘m not a praying type, I started to pray that he was off eating a milk-bone somewhere.
Then after a few weeks, I let him go and stopped moping about it.
Months later, for my birthday, I stopped by my parents house to say hello. We sat at the kitchen table and chatted about general stuff and what I had planned for my day. While talking, I started to riffle through a pile of junk mail and magazines that my mom usually lets collect before throwing it away.
In the pile, I noticed the shelter mailed her a circular that they send to those who make donations. I started to absent-mindedly flip through the pages, lost in autopilot, trying to listen to my mom and read at the same time.
It was when I turned to the next page, I sucked in my breath and gazed at the page in disbelief.
It was him. My Fred.
It detailed his history, how he came to the shelter, an informal thank you to all the volunteers that loved him, a mention of his sweet disposition, and what a good dog he was while there. He was eventually adopted by his foster parents that brought him home so he could live outside of the shelter.
I have a silly heart and I couldn’t help but cry. I was holding actual proof that good thoughts and wishes really come true. He was was safe, loved, and probably eating more than his fair share of dog-treats. Knowing he was treasured was quite possibly one of the most memorable and enjoyable gifts I have ever received.
I loved, then lost.
Amazingly, it came back better than I could have ever imagined it would.
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”