Sunday, July 10, 2016

Can't buy friendship? Yes, you can!

My wife and I spent yesterday morning at a Tractor Supply parking lot.  Reading this, you might think we could have found a better use of our time.  You’d be wrong.
Our county’s animal shelter is at capacity.  Fifty dogs and cats need homes.  Sadly, most will not find one in time.  Earlier in the week, a message went out on the Save-A-Pet Foundation’s Facebook page seeking help for a weekend adoption event.  
My wife and I have provided financial support to our county shelter and other nearby rescue shelters, and will continue to do so.  We love dogs.  We found Milo, our lab-terrier mix, at a shelter.  Until yesterday, we’d never experienced what it’s like to find homes for unwanted pets.    It’s much different than mailing in a check.
An email went out requesting support.  We met five other volunteers in the parking lot at 9:15 a.m.   They’d picked up six dogs from the county shelter on their way.   We set up a tent at the far end of the lot, prepared signs, and unloaded the dogs and crates.  
These volunteers love animals.  All of them had already adopted several dogs and/or provided foster homes for pets.   Each would have adopted one of the six dogs, but they were at their limit.
It was difficult to think about the fate of these dogs if they didn’t find a home yesterday.   Each had found their way to the shelter because they weren’t wanted, or their owners were unable to care for them.  Each had a unique personality.  Each had specific needs.
For the next several hours, I had a loveable beagle at the end of a leash.  I didn’t mind being dragged across the parking lot.  It was great to give these dogs some freedom and attention.  Recently, they’d had very little of either.  After all they’d been through, they still freely offered their love and attention to me.
As each prospective pet owner approached, I couldn’t help but get a lump in my throat.  The dogs didn’t know the significance of their decisions, but I did.  The other volunteers had done this before.   They patiently talked to each person and introduced them to the dogs. 
I was thrilled when the first dog was adopted.  She was a brindle boxer mix--a beautiful dog.   A young man adopted her.  It was like the brindle knew what had just happened.   She pranced to his waiting pickup and eagerly jumped into the backseat.   The volunteers applauded as they drove off.  I had to turn away to avoid having them see a 63-year-old man tear up.
As the morning progressed, four of the six dogs found homes: the brindle, a loveable pit bull, a stately-looking coon hound, and an adorable beagle (one of the volunteers adopted him).   For a $30 adoption fee, each new owner went home with a happy dog and an instant best friend.   It doesn’t get much better than that.
Recent update: A fifth dog, a small wire-haired terrier, was adopted soon after returning to the shelter.  Unfortunately, Marmaduke, a large, playful shepherd mix, is still looking.  If you hurry, he may still be there.   

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