Jill is new to the adoption center today. I see her through the glass door of her den, and my heart immediately drops. She is facing the back wall, and even from where I stand, I can see her trembling.
I go inside and sit down against the wall opposite her. She glances at me and then puts her gaze on the wall again, her trembling growing more noticeable.
I start to talk to her, but make no move to touch her. For several minutes, she will not look at me. I slide her bowl of food closer, but she is not interested in it.
As I continue to talk, she starts to glance at me every little bit, and I see that her shaking has lessened. I reach out and rub her head, and she doesn’t seem to mind.
Jill looks like one parent might have been a Black Lab and the other a Bassett Hound. She is ten years old and black with a greying face. She is long with short legs, and it is clear that she belonged to someone who believed that food is love.
A while later, I get up to leave the den with tears in my eyes. I tell her I’ll see her soon and walk to the door. But before I can open it, Jill gets up and trots to me, putting her full weight against my leg. I slide down the wall and sit next to her. I am crying full out now. I know what kind of courage it must have taken for her to do this. She curls up beside me, and I sit rubbing her in silence.
I had heard about Jill a few days earlier. Her person had undergone a severe stroke, and Jill ended up at our county’s local pound. I cannot even begin to imagine her there. But what happened to Jill happens far too often.
I think about what it would be like to be Jill these past couple of weeks. She has lost the person who clearly loved her. Under the decision making of someone who did not feel that way about her, she was put into a vehicle and driven to the county shelter where her chances of being adopted were hit or miss at best.
And now, here she is in a place where she will be cared for and a new home will be sought for her. But we have no way of telling her that, and so she will feel fear until she begins to see that the people here are kind and want the best for her.
I think about my own dogs and how they mean everything to me. We like to believe that if something happens to us, family members will care for our beloved dog or cat just as we would. Sometimes, this is the case. Very often, it is not.
For Jill, it is not.
Fortunately, Jill is only at the adoption center for a couple of days before a wonderful foster comes to pick her up. In this home, Jill will be cared for with love and tenderness. And in time, we can hope her heart will begin to heal.
As for me, I think I will take another look at the provisions my husband and I have made for our dogs. If something happens to both of us, I know my children will be loved and taken care of. I need to know that the same will be true for my dogs. Because the reality of this world is that our beloved pets are only as safe as our love for them. What we would do for them, someone else likely wouldn’t. Even a family member.
The safety and well-being of these dogs that I love so much is not something I want to leave to fate. As hard as it is to think about, preparation equals love.
Note: I wrote this post last year when Jill arrived at our local adoption center. Jill’s ending was a happy one. She was adopted.
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