When my husband and I first moved into a little two bedroom rental home together, it was bliss. We were about to get married; the school year was over; and I was spending the remaining months before our wedding finishing up last minute plans and working at a snow cone stand nearby. Life was good. I could sleep in until 10:30 every day if I wanted to (remember those days?) because the store didn’t open until 11, and it was a five minute walk there. I’ve never been so rested and relaxed in all my life. Then, my husband had to go out of the country on business for a week, leaving me to fend for myself in a city where I knew very few people in a house I knew little to nothing about. Our little house became a dark maze of uneasy noises. Sirens at night sounded a lot closer than before. I would come home from work at 10:30 at night and immediately turn the lock behind me and turn every light on in the house while I checked closets and under beds and behind the shower curtain for anyone who may be lurking there. It was a stressful week, and I didn’t sleep much. Had I not had to work, I would have gone home to my mommy, five and a half hours away. Not long after that experience, we discussed getting a dog.
We’d both grown up with big dogs, so we looked for my dream dog. We found him in Lafayette, (“Boiler Up!”) and he would be ready for pick up just a few months after our wedding. We took Feeny home (yes, named after Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World) and watched him grow into the goofiest most loving dog I’ve ever had. Even though he’s not a “guard dog” breed, he was big, brawny, intimidating, and LOUD. Ever since then, my husband’s business trips haven’t filled me with nearly as much loneliness or anxiety. Because when you have a noisy tank like this on your side…
…you don’t fear that you’ll miss detecting a potential intruder (or the mailman or UPS guy or even lots of noisy wind). And when Lucas was born, he and Feeny bonded instantly. Ensuring Lucas’ protection at every turn, Feeny was like “Nana” from Peter Pan, playing with Lucas, keeping an eye on him, and alerting me when he felt something was wrong.
Tragedy struck our family in August this year when our sweet Feeny died unexpectedly and very suddenly from a very rare and quickly spreading cancer (choroid carcinoma) in his brain and spinal cord. Naturally, it was very difficult for all of us, but it was especially confusing for Lucas. Feeny and Lucas were best buds, and his friend was suddenly gone.
We had rescued a dog from our local shelter about a month before we even knew Feeny was sick, (if that’s not a God thing, I don’t know what is) but this dog was so different from Feeny. Enzo was skittish and didn’t know how to play at first. He didn’t chase tennis balls or play tug of war. He didn’t like playing keep away with his stuffed toys. For a few months, he didn’t even like Lucas to snuggle him. Enzo had been beaten by his former owner (an elderly man with dementia) and clearly treated very badly. Despite his former life, he was sweet and loving and extremely tolerant of Lucas. Lucas’ sudden movements startled him for the first few months, though, and he would hide under the table at any loud noises. Enzo never had any sense of security in his old home, and now that he’s here with us, we’re providing that for each other.
Enzo has stepped up and settled in a lot since Feeny’s death. He now plays with Lucas and gives him hugs and kisses. He checks in on him when he gets hurt and nuzzles him. He allows Lucas to give him hugs and snuggle with him, and he’s even gentle enough to let Lucas walk him around the backyard on his leash. They’ve bonded so well and restored the love and security we all lost when Feeny died. He’s also no slouch at warning us of danger or being intimidating in the backyard when strangers walk by our house, and he likes to sleep in front of Lucas’ door at night the same way Feeny used to do.
It’s easy to change the channel when that Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercial comes on, but it’s a lot harder to walk away from helping hurting animals that you see with your own eyes. I had never been to an animal shelter before the day I went to look for our second dog. Before then, we’d always bought our dogs from respectable breeders (never pet stores for fear of perpetuating puppy mills). When I got there, I was nervous and immediately sad. Every animal had a story of how they ended up there, and not every animal was going to get a chance to continue their story past their time there. What was saddest of all was that the majority of the animals were there due to the fault of the previous owners: a puppy who had been dropped off after the owners became frustrated that it kept peeing in the house, a beautiful white husky who was surrendered after she kept jumping the 4 foot fence of her elderly family’s home (huskies need a lot of exercise), a 13 year old lab who had been surrendered after his owner started dating someone who was allergic to him, and the list goes on. Enzo had been surrendered by the daughter of an elderly man who discovered that her father “couldn’t care for him properly” (that’s an understatement).
For today’s Treasure Tuesday, I wanted to give back to the shelter that brought Enzo into our lives. We donated both money and supplies to the shelter. The money provides flexible opportunity for the shelter to provide needed medical care for injured animals, and we provided supplies they said they needed like paper towels (for cleaning up cages), bleach (for sanitizing), pens (for intake and adoption paperwork), and we also donated a few old leashes and collars, including the one Enzo was wearing when we adopted him.
Most shelters, like the one we donated to, run on donations. The people who work there get no salary or compensation. They volunteer. Every dollar they receive helps them to keep animals off the street, restore them to health, and rehome them to a family that fits their needs. If you treasure the security your animals provide you, I encourage you to give back to your local shelter through donations, whether they be money, items, or your time. Every little bit helps to bring these homeless pets to their new families, and it’s a donation you can feel safe making. 😉