The first month of 2014 is history. Hopefully many of you accepted Paw Print’s New Year’s challenge to begin an Opportunity Journal in which you record acts of kindness shown to companion animals. If the pages in your journal are still blank, don’t despair…. The year offers you eleven more months to make life better for needy dogs. According to the Global Language Monitor, President Obama’s favorite catchphrase is, “Make No Mistake.” Don’t know how well it is working for him, but, “Make no mistake”—you have the ability to help brighten the future of area dogs, and in the process, you will also brighten your own life, as illustrated in this piece by Helen McKinley.
MY DOG WILLIE
When I lost my first forever dog, I was devastated. I decided that the best way to say thank you to him for 15 years of devoted companionship was to adopt an older dog from the local shelter. Willie was already 11 years old, and as he huddled in the back of his cage, I looked into his eyes, and it was heartbreaking. Willie had been a stray. He had been in several homes, and his last owner just took him to the shelter in the middle of the night, and left him outside tied up at the shelter entrance. The fact is that senior dogs are the first to be discarded—they are the ones nobody wants anymore, usually for selfish reasons, or they have outlived their usefulness, with impulsive owners who considered the dog a possession, rather than a friend or member of the family, or simply didn’t take the time, effort and expense needed to be a dog caretaker.
People ask me, Are you crazy? Why on earth would you want to adopt a rescue dog? Aren’t they like used cars? Misfits, troublemakers. Who wants someone else’s problems? Why not get a cute little puppy?
I took Willie because he needed me. I didn’t consider how it would turn out, or how much it would cost, or if our relationship would be happy or tragic in the end. I felt a sense of control that I seldom feel in my every day relationships. If I can save something, then maybe I can do anything. Anything.
Willie came with some baggage, but don’t we all? None of us has made the trip this far without some baggage. I know that Willie’s time with me is limited. The walks are slower, and sometimes he needs a boost getting up the stairs. He will leave when his work is done, but his lessons with be with me for the rest of my life. The lessons of being there in the moment… patience… acceptance… listening not only with your head, but also with your heart…. to love and trust, completely and unconditionally.
Some people say to me, it’s wonderful you rescued Willie—how lucky Willie is! I am the lucky one to have him in our family, for whatever time he gives me. Misfit? Troublemaker? I don’t think so; as see it, Willie rescued me. He has given me much, much more than I have given him.