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Stirring up memories


Paws for Thanksgiving
November 24, 2004

            We’ll all be gathering around the dinner table tomorrow to join family and friends in this most American celebration.   Make sure your whole family is there to give thanks.  The Ecks will certainly want to call Sophie in to share, and over in Climax, the Bell family will include Charley in their rejoicing.

            There are puppies, grown dogs, kittens and cats all over the county who join Sophie and Charley—and their families—in Thanksgiving, because over the last year our Humane Society has helped bring  animals and humans together in record numbers.

            “When we first saw Charley at the shelter, she was wearing a very long face. Her fur was falling off in clumps, and her skin was so badly damaged that she was bleeding around her face and neck. She was sitting in one of the cages against the back wall just waiting for what would come next. Her sad face caught my eye,” Deana Bell remembers.  She couldn’t shake the thought of those sad eyes.

            She kept on thinking about this dear creature.  And thinking.  Finally, that Sunday night Deana, along with husband Josh, made the big decision.  The Bell household was about to expand!

            “A trip to the veterinarian did not bring the best news.  Charley had sarcoptic mange, hookworms and heartworms.  Some families might have walked away.  But not the Bells.  Deana finishes the story:

            “Charley has gone through many social and physical changes since joining our family. When she first came she would jump at any loud noise or movement and hoard food, for lack of knowing where her next meal would come from. She knows she is “home” now and doesn’t frighten very easily at all. She’s also learning to share… (most of the time). Her fur coat has grown out beautifully and she has been through her first round of heartworm treatments.

            “Who would have ever known that sad-faced, broken-down dog would bring so much joy into our family? She has certainly found a forever friend in me.”

              Sophie's story begins when she was much younger than Charley. Her mother was a stray or lost dog who gave birth to Sophie on a stranger’s front porch.  She was frightened off and ran away leaving this newborn puppy behind.  The woman tried to locate the mother dog, but when she was unable to find her, she called Beth Eck to see what to do. 

Beth didn’t just give advice, she took the puppy home where she bottle fed her every two hours until she was out of danger and then continued to hand raise her until she was old enough to eat by herself. 

Beth, who has other dogs, tried to let Sophie go to a rescue shelter for adoption.  No go.  The bond between the two was too great. The next day, Sophie was back in the home where she belongs.   

These two stories made me remember an e-mail message I received from a dog-loving in friend in Boston.   
             I am your dog, and I have something I want to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise.  It always seems like you are running here and there, often much too fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life. Look down at me now.  You smile at me; I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine?  Do you see a spirit? One who loves you as no other could in the world?  A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong-doing for just a simple moment of your time?

That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes to be with me.  Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat.  Sometimes, we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract clouded eyes. Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep, to run free in a distant land.

 I may not be here tomorrow; I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just "One more day" with me. Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me.  We have NOW, together. So come, sit down here next to me on the floor, and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come to me not as "alpha" or as "trainer" or even "Mom or Dad," come to me as a living spirit and stroke my fur and let us look deep into one another's eyes, and talk.  I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general.

You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a spirit to share such things with. Someone very different from you, and here I am. I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits. I do not think of you as a "Dog on two feet" -- I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still. Now, come sit with me on the floor.  Enter my world, and let time slow down if only for fifteen minutes.  Look deep into my eyes, and whisper to my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy and I will know your true self.  We may not have tomorrow, and life is oh so very short.

Love, (on behalf of canines everywhere)

            Share this message with your animals and your family.  And take a few minutes to sit down with your pets tomorrow and say “Thank you.”

            And if you don’t have an animal friend to share with, call the city (248-2000) and get the adoption hours at the animal shelter.  Your new pal is waiting.


Post-script:  The author of the dog piece is unknown, as is the case in many of the messages we receive on the Internet.  If you have seen this before and know who wrote it, let me know so that I can acknowledge the author.

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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network