As someone who has had the opportunity to adopt multiple animals from a shelter, I was immediately touched by a post on Facebook that a friend recently shared. This post, a thank you, in the form of an ad on kijiji, a Canadian classified site, was moving in a way that only those of us who have had the opportunity to love a second chance animal are likely to fully understand. I have little doubt, however, that the number of people whose hearts it touched is exponential.
We have choices in life. How we view situations like this are one of them. Animals are dropped at shelters for any number of reasons, and often, there is more to the story then we know. I wonder sometimes why we feel the reason to know why, as it can add up to resentment and judgement and the inability to see things from a point of view other than our own. It can be hard to empathize when we know the issues of over-population or, like in the case of the dog in this story, BSL. Personally, I have worked hard to not let myself go down that road and to simply look at the animal that my family has chosen to bring into our lives as an opportunity to share the love that we have to give, and provide a warm, safe place in which to live out their lives, however long that may be. In one case, this love went to a senior cat, who was surrendered because her owners were moving. It became clear very quickly that there was more to the story and that she was a pretty sick cat. Did I have moments where I was resentful, judgmental and angry thinking she deserved better? I sure did. So, you know what I did in those moments? I picked her up and sang to her, which was something that turned her into a purring machine. The resentment, judgment and anger turned to gratitude and joy the moment I picked her up. Their decision to surrender her, for whatever reason, and I will never know the full story, gave me the opportunity to have more love in my life, even if she was only with us for a short time. Josie left a tortoise-shelled paw print on the heart of every human who lives in this house. The fact that she and Hazel became fast friends made it all the more special. Two second chance animals who bonded and showed a tenderness to each other that we all could probably learn a thing or two from.
Buddy was a dog who was given the same opportunity. Allison’s kijiji post has been viewed close to 3,300 times as of this writing. Her hope is that the man who surrendered her sees it and perhaps, gains some peace of mind in knowing that his dog was loved and that what was clearly a difficult thing for him had a happy ending. It was written with gratitude at having been given the chance to share some love. And, really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Don’t we bring animals into our lives to share the love we were born to give?
We asked Allison to expand upon her ad so that more people will read Buddy’s story. Perhaps it will find it’s way to her former owner. Perhaps it will give some of us pause before we pass judgment. Perhaps it will open more hearts to a second chance animal. Perhaps it will help restore your faith in humanity.
To you who loved her first,
I wish I had written this letter to you years ago. I should have said these things when I first discovered what a great dog she was, when I first knew what a gift it was for her to have landed with us. I hope it’s not too late to give you some peace of mind.
I have to be honest, I think part of me worried that she would have loved you more, that she would have again mourned your loss if you were reunited and then parted once again and I’m afraid I let my ego get in the way. I didn’t want her to choose you over me.
You owned all of her history, her youthful years. You knew what she looked like when you brought her home as a pup. I can only imagine what that golden-brindle coat and bat-like ears looked like at 8 weeks old. You had adventures and stories and memories and eight years of love together.
And I must say, it was so obvious how much you loved her, and she you, for the pain and sadness was palpable in the air when you brought her to the shelter. I’m sure you walked away as devastated as she was.
And the hardest part is always not knowing. For Buddy, she didn’t know what was happening, why she was at the shelter, where her family had gone. She didn’t know who we strangers were or why we were the ones caring for her, and why we kept such strange hours and what was going to happen tomorrow.
And you must have been at home worrying many of the same things. I don’t suppose for a second that you were ignorant to the fact that you had just surrendered a senior-aged pitbull to a province where BSL restricted dogs of her appearance. That her various health issues weren’t obvious to us, and also to potential adopters. That this would be extremely difficult for her.
And knowing that you knew all of those things, I am so sorry that you were put in a position where you were forced to give up your best friend, an unfortunate reality of the coming economic crisis. You were surely as heartbroken as she was.
And so I hope this message gives you peace. This is her fairy tale ending.
Buddy wasn’t at the shelter for a terribly long time before we realized what a gem she was and set her up in the office with us. She was afraid of the floors in the kennel, and she was a perfect houseguest, so this temporary arrangement suited everyone just fine.
She soon met a young, incorrigible boxer and they clicked immediately. They would rest side-by-side on the dog bed beside my desk and chew on the same small stuffed toy, narrowly missing one another’s cheeks with their teeth.
I decided, given the fact that the incorrigible boxer already belonged to me, that I would foster this old lady. Just until she had a home.
Occasionally, someone would show interest in her, maybe even fill out an application. But nothing ever stuck. Now I know why. It should’ve been immediately obvious, but sometimes us humans overlook what is right in front of us.
When I left my job at the shelter, I took Buddy back. Abandoned her. It broke my heart to do it. It lasted one night and I drove out the next morning and picked her up again. I filled out the adoption papers. She was mine.
The next five years together were really, really special. And I don’t know how else to say that. But you must understand. You must be the only other person in the world who understands. She was an amazing dog.
She loved everything that good dogs love– cuddling on the couch under a blanket, kids, baby animals, sunshine, food. Her obsession for anything that bounced was the only frightening thing about her.
She had so many funny quirks, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. When she was frightened, her first reaction was to hurl her 80-odd pounds into your lap and furiously lick your face.
When she played with other dogs, she whirled around in backward circles, then ended her whirling dervish impersonation with a deep playbow.
She wagged her tail so hard, it left bruises. Sometimes it broke open and bled. But it never stopped her.
Her love of water was admirable. We spent our summers at my grandmother’s farm where she could run muzzle-free, roll in the sun-warmed grass and swim for hours in the pond. We would have to drag her out of that water.
That’s where I will scatter her ashes.
Because after five of the shortest years in history, we lost her in April of 2013. Her beautiful body had just given up on her and, though I prayed and I searched and I tried so, so hard, I could not keep her comfortable.
And this is why I write to you. My heart still hurts when I think of losing her. It physically aches. I still cry. I still miss her so, so much.
You must have felt the same way, I think.
So I just want you to know this. She was loved. She was loved more than any dog has ever been loved in history.
By you, by me, by everyone she met.
And she had a really good life. She was really happy here. I think she may have loved us as much as she loved you.
And she changed hearts and minds of anyone who had ever had a negative thought about her kind of dog before. Because it didn’t matter what she looked like or what the media said she looked like. She made people love her just by being her.
She was the best Buddy ever.
So thank you. Thank you for making that incredibly difficult decision to give her up. I miss her every single day. I’m sure you do as well.
I hope, together, we can find some peace in knowing that she was blessed her whole life with people who loved her.
She who loved her last
Allison’s original ad can be seen here.
We always have a choice. Choose love.