I got e-mail messages about “pet-a-pup day” on campus. I also saw some adorable pics of various students with the dogs. From the pictures I saw online, it looked like the dogs came from a local shelter in the area. I have a particular fondness for the plight of shelter dogs since some of my family’s best furfriends have been shelter dogs.
15 years ago in October, we adopted Toto, a lab and hound mix that was 3 months old, for my daughter, Emily, who was 3 at the time. It was my goal, because of where we lived at the time, that Toto would not only be Emily’s companion but protector as well. A few months passed and we were at Wayside Waifs, the shelter we got Toto from, bringing in dog food and going to visit the other shelter dogs, when we found Buster, an Australian sheepdog puppy, who, with his litter, had been thrown out on 71 highway in Grandview. There was something special about Buster, who had one blue eye and brown eye, and was a ball of fuzz when I spotted him — it seemed like he needed me. So Buster came to live with us too.
When we moved out to Pleasant Hill, our two big dogs came with us, and they loved the new countryside and big fenced in yard where they could play, roam, and guard. We came to call Toto and Buster our furchildren and treated them as such. When our son Dale was born, he instantly had a liking to Buster and they became fast friends. The years have been a struggle for our family with going back to school for both my hubby and me, changing jobs, having our kiddos grow up, but the one consistency we’ve had was our furchildren in the back yard. This summer we heard a yelp come from the back yard, and Buster was laying down in the ground unable to move. I contacted the vet who told me that if he didn’t pass in the evening, we would put him down in the morning. We were blessed to have had our Buster for 15 years and see that he passed on our deck with our family surrounding him and loving him. It was truly an emotional time since we had Buster for 15 years and he had been so faithful to us. Last month, Toto, Emily’s best friend, got a virus in her lungs. Within two weeks, her lungs had filled and her heart had enlarged. Toto was barely able to get up on her own and her breathing was raspy at best. We had to decide to put Toto down, and it was heartbreaking. You see, we had let both Toto and Buster become an integral part of our lives; they were so much more than just dogs to all of us, they were our friends, confidants, and protectors for 15 years. It had been a tearful summer for both my children and myself as we had to put two of our best friends to rest.
In order to heal our hearts, my children and I have started to volunteer at the KC Pet Project, which is a local animal shelter in the KC area. My son who is 12, decided to make bow ties for big dogs and does weekly. Dale believes that if he can make a bow tie for each big dog at the shelter to wear, they become more approachable and people prayfully will adopt them rather than bypass them. My kids travel weekly into KC to go walk the dogs and talk with them, which has healed a magnitude of their hurt.
On my daughter’s birthday, August 5th, we went to the shelter to go walk some dogs and became attached to Nike. He is a collie and lab mix and has one blue eye and one brown eye. After walking him and playing with him, my son refused to let him go back in the kennel because, “He’s a spirit dog like Buster, and we can’t let him go back in that place.” My daughter also thought Nike was special, and so that day, Nike became Blue Snider. He loves our backyard and redecorates our deck daily by moving the furniture around on it. I have started to call him the “Nate Berkus of Breezeway Lane” because he is so “yard proud” after each “redecorating” session. We have come to love another lab mix named Milly at the shelter and became her foster family within the past two weeks. She is loving, kind, and afraid of the dark. Yes, Milly, the big black lab mix sleeps with the back porch light on as her night light. The kids and I prayed about what to do for Milly since we have come to love her, and last week, she found her forever home her with us. I got her paperwork from the shelter this week and it shows that she was surrendered by her owners. It shows that she is officially two years old because her birthday was September 14, 2010. Just knowing that made Dale, Emily, and myself feel like we did the right thing.
So, as you can tell, I do have a fondness in my heart for shelter dogs. I would encourage any of you to find a local shelter and see if you can go in occasionally and walk one of their dogs. It really is therapeutic for both yourself and the dogs there. The ability of a dog to heal your heart, make you laugh, and give you joy is purely from God. After all, dog spelled backward is God.
May you have many blessings this coming week and be a blessing to each person and creature you meet. Peace be with you.