Animal Shelter Reality Check

 

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So I went to a couple animal shelters today ( finally)  to look for a second dog.My husband and I put our Jasper ( sweet boy…) to sleep after he suddenly became deathly ill.He was 12, maybe 13, I don’t know.He was a rescue.All my animals were and are rescues.I can remember watching the Slade movie”Flame” on YouTube the day before he died and thinking something was terribly wrong.I never thought he would leave us so soon.

Janet seems to be the last dog standing as it were.She, at times, seems content enough but I wonder if she is lonely for some canine companionship.The cats aren’t cutting it.She follows me into every room when I am home.

I looked up Memphis Animal Services on line.Unfortunately they have some scathing reviews, to say the least.Most comments call for firing each and every one of their employees.I realize that going to a municipal animal shelter can be a frustrating experience.Nevertheless I remembered what a friend had once emphatically told me.”Go,” he said, “Rescue an animal.” I intended to do just that.

When I got to the shelter, it was about what I expected with a thin veneer of civility.The man who took me to see the adoptable dogs seemed annoyed that I wanted to visit with more than one dog that day.Of course, most are shaking their cages saying “take me,take me!!” Then when the are taken out of the cage they can hardly control themselves.I could understand how desperate they were.I couldn’t make a decision right then and there.I would have to talk to my husband.I vowed to look at some of their pictures on line and talk it over with him.

Next stop was The Humane Society.Their facility was a little more airy and relaxed than the shelter.There were outdoor playgrounds and cheerful volunteers taking dogs out for visits.I talked to a staff member about what I was looking for and he seemed attentive.I would have to get Janet updated on her shots,  though.All and all the situation seemed, for lack of a better word, more humane.

As I drove home in the warm afternoon sun I came to the conclusion that this was going to be a process.It was clearly a process I had been avoiding for the last 11 months.I had a lump in my throat and a heavy heart.I thought about work matters, conflicts, and various things that had nothing to do with adopting a dog.I resented having to deal with this.It was very similar to the process of buying a car or finding a place to live but with so much more sadness and grief somehow.I realized the passage of time.I also saw how I had loved and lost and I felt very alone at  this moment without knowing how to stop feeling this pain.

  that was it….ground zero 

This wasn’t about finding the right dog or supporting the right shelter.It was about the emotion I was trying to avoid feeling.I was at an impasse of some sort.To quote the lyrics of one of my own songs,”this is where the page turns,this is where the bridge burns..” It is not that unusual,  believe it or not, to hear words you have written echo through the circumstances of your life.Needless to say, at this moment I wasn’t digging it.

When I got home, Janet was laying quietly on the couch.I freely extended my hand and said, “I met some other dogs today.” I was waiting for a reaction.She just remained her docile dog self.I was comfortable the way things were.Why couldn’t it just stay like this? Somehow I knew it couldn’t and there was no use trying to hold on.

For the moment,I took a breath and just paused to appreciate things as they were.

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