To paraphrase Roger Caras, a former host at Westminster, and the 14th president of the ASPCA, ‘Pets are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole’. A few years ago, Orvis ran a full-page essay in one of their catalogs, why we love dogs. Given the price of color glossy print, I was very impressed, I still have that torn-out page.
Pets bring love into our hearts, and into our homes. While I’ve known some nice cats in my time, I am by and large a dog person. All were rescues, or from shelters: Brutus was the black lab mix who won my mother $25.00 for the story Reader’s Digest bought about how he protected me from the deadly dangerous vacuum cleaner as I lay in my bassinet; Fury was the black and white miniature collie with a wanderlust, he could shoot out a front door like you’ve never seen, and Bogart the Sheppard mix (part kangaroo, I think), with a fondness for butter.
Maggie Mae was the first dog I adopted on my own, as an adult. She was a year-old lab/? mix who came home with me on a cold and grey afternoon, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1989. Yup, I saw her face, and I couldn’t leave her if I tried. On my third date with Doug-you know, the one where the girl has him over and cooks-he brought shrimp for us, and a rawhide for Maggie. I knew then and there I could love this very kind man, that was 17 ½ years ago.
Now we have sweet Bella Blue. A puppy called ‘Sue’ by the staff, she was one of ten in the litter, the rest were all retriever, blonde, fluffy and bouncy, looking much like the dogs you’d see in the catalogs. She was black, shiny and with blue eyes, and sat quietly, watching. It was that same Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 2002. We had been 3 years without St. Maggie, and had, sadly, just come to the end of a very long journey with my mother-in-law, it was time. Going into it, Doug remembered the work and responsibility; now the two of them are inseparable.
We all have our own stories, but most adoptive homes agree that shelter animals are very special indeed. Yesterday, the US Postal Service launched these new stamps, (and ok, some pricey artwork) to raise awareness of pet adoption from shelters. No funds come from the sale of these stamps/artwork, but the publicity could be priceless, and you can help just by buying and using these stamps.
Also, as s you spring-clean, please check out my Good Turns page to see what you might be able to donate. Spay/neuter, and if you are thinking about adding a pet to your family, please do consider adoption. Because I will still have just way too many words in me, Michelle Mazzacca from the Elmsford Animal Shelter will be guest-hosting next, and tell you how to choose and acclimate the right pet for your family, and how you can help otherwise. Meanwhile if you have a shelter story you’d like to share, please feel free, I’d love to hear it.