From the bean of Green bean.
Zeke, The Shelter Dog Who Changed My Life
Last March, we decided to adopt a shelter dog. After weeks of searching PetFinder and Craigslist, my youngest found him. "That's the one." No matter that this dog was in a rural shelter two hours from home. He was destined to be ours and we made the trip.
Walking across the damp floors of the shelter, we searched the cages for our dog. Most dogs pawed frantically at the gates of their kennel. Every dog barked and the barks echoed through the concrete tunnel of the shelter. We finally found our dog - of course, in the last kennel.
Out in the yard, we fell in love and took him home. Only, after several weeks, we realized that this dog was not actually "our" dog. He wanted to eat our cat too much to be part of our family. We worked with behaviorists but no luck. Ultimately, we found him a wonderful new cat-free home.
With all the time that had passed, it was too late to get a dog. We'd be leaving on a trip in a month. But I couldn't forget those barking dogs, that wet floor, the echoes in the concrete. In late April, I began advertising on Craigslist for the shelter - anonymously, because I was embarrassed. After a month, the shelter director tracked me down through an ad to let me know that my ads had dramatically increased adoptions and to beg me not to stop. My heart swelled with pride, happiness and something more.
I kept up my ads and one day, one of the adopted dogs popped back up on the shelter website with a note - "please help her, she has had puppies." Fortuitously, a Facebook friend fostered puppies for a local rescue. We put our heads together and Freckles and her puppies were out of the shelter and in a foster home in no time. Two weeks later, I met Freckles and her puppies while they were staying for a week at my friend's home. As I sank my hands into her soft fur, I swallowed a lump in my throat. I felt alive. I felt satisfaction. I felt centered.
Freckles pups being well socialized. As I understand it, they've all already been adopted.
Me meeting Freckles at my friend's home. I've only met a couple of the dogs I've worked for.
Last week, my shoulders sagged when I went to renew my ad for Indigo, a 12 year old Chow mix, who lived her whole life with the same family but lost that family when they lost their home due to foreclosure. I'd written the most creative ads for Indigo that I could think of. I was at a loss. I let my fingers and social media do the walking. I looked up Chow Chows on Facebook and posted about Indigo, two other Chows and a Chow mix mama who had just had babies - all in my shelter. Within a week, Indigo was out and in a loving foster home. The mother and babies were rescued and the other two Chows - Oprah and Stedman - are awaiting transport to their foster home.
I continue to place my ads. Since then, a rural rescue that works with "my shelter" has asked for ideas promoting their dogs. Since then, I gave all the food and medicine from the dog we could not keep to a local family who lost their home and is struggling to keep their pets. Since then, I've helped a rescue organization try to reform a high kill shelters by promoting their cause online, advertising their foster dogs and contacting the press. Since then, many more animals have found homes because of me. Since then, I've felt warm inside. I've felt my heart squeeze. I've felt hope and much more. Since then, I have made a difference.
I could easily stop placing my ads. Stop networking with friends and rescues. Worry only about my own family. But you know what happens when good people do nothing? They stop feeling so good.
Cubby spent six long months in the shelter and was adopted one month ago. I received an email from the adoption coordinator thanking me as the adopters came in response to one of my ads. I never met Cubby but was told that the volunteers cried with joy when his new family took him home.