Thursday, December 17, 2009

"I will never do that!"

Most people who work in animal rescue have said, at one time or another, "I would never give my dog (or cat) up!"  Options like living in a car; begging, borrowing or stealing; or the flexible, "I'd do absolutely anything" are frequently mentioned.  There is a kind of snobbery amongst Those Who Rescue against Those Who Surrender, a feeling that if people truly loved their pets, they would not give them up.

The realities of life are not so easy, not so clear-cut.  The fact is that sometimes very good, very caring people are faced with situations that make it impossible or unkind for them to keep a beloved animal companion.  Many of these people, if asked when life was flowing along smoothly, would have told you the same things that the rescue people so confidently speak.

We recently took a Pet Haven dog back. Dakota was adopted five years ago.  Dakota's guardian loves him dearly, but some significant and difficult changes in his life meant that Dakota was spending twelve or more hours a day all alone while the man worked.  The man came home each night to a dog who was so happy to see him that it somewhat assuaged his guilt for the long, lonely hours beautiful Dakota had just spent waiting for him.

Eventually, the man made the painful decision that Dakota needed more in his life, that it would be selfish to keep his beloved companion for those few short moments they spent together each day.  The conversations between the man and Ann, our Intake Coordinator, were heart-wrenching.   The day Dakota was dropped off, he left some of his own shirts so Dakota would have the scent of home, of his person with him as he moved into his new life.  

It is hard to imagine having to do what Dakota's owner did this week.  But it is not unimaginable.  Not anymore.  One of our Dog Division volunteers said in an email that "After reflecting upon why (Dakota's story)  has so touched me, I guess it is because this could be me."  It could be any of us. Even those of us who say we would take drastic measures to keep our animal friends with us.

Dakota's dad acted out of love for this happy, friendly dog.   Dakota has adapted easily to his foster home  and he already has a lovely family coming to meet him at our adoption event on Saturday, so his journey into a new life will probably be a quick one.  

Pet Haven's lifetime commitment to its dogs and cats provides a safety net for all who come through our program.  The story of Dakota and his dad will stay in our hearts for a long time, and remind us that "never" can creep up on any of us, even as we deny that sad possibility. 

1 comment:

Jen said...

awesome post, celayne!