Imagine sitting on cold, damp concrete, where wired fence surrounds your area of “living”. One of your small pillows is tossed in the corner of your cage, and there is a cup of water placed beside you. The cage is pushed inward until it locks, as the volunteer who nurtures you walks away. Besides confusion, you are ultimately terrified of all the other humans, young and old, trapped within their enclosed spaces. Crying, screaming, and questioning one another as to how they have arrived here in the first place. Suddenly, a swarm of dogs and cats begin to enter the shelter, as each one of them observes every single cubicle. You begin to sweat, anxious at the thought of them judging you, intently staring at you, and possibly poking their finger through the fence, in an attempt to touch your bare skin. The first dog approaches your cage and you hastily move towards the corner for protection. His eyes quickly scan you from top to bottom, but he continues his search onto the next person.
Now replace the humans with animals, and there you have it. Welcome to an animal shelter.
It’s been a lonely ten years since my dog has passed. Those who have grown up without a pet do not realize the relationship and bond that is created with an animal, who unconditionally cares for your well-being. Once that constant love is suddenly lost, it can be as mournful as a family member passing away. A pet provides the one, endless necessity for every human being. That is love. Love can destroy and kill between friends and family, even strangers. However, the love of a dog is infinite. Once they realize you are their caregiver, they will offer all of their protection and happiness for you.
Three weeks ago, I discovered a bulldog within one of the shelters in New York. In need of a furry friend, this three-year-old caught my attention right away. She was snuggled within the corner of her cage, eyes so wide with fear that I felt a tug at my heart, implying this was a dog I wished to save. A volunteer happily took her out of her cage, and allowed me to spend a bit of time with the dog. In doing so, I was terrified. Terrified of not being sufficient for her needs. As soon as the door closed, we both stared into each other’s eyes for a brief moment. She quickly looked down, then back up again at my face. All of a sudden, she gave me a quick lick on my hand, and then walked away. She wasn’t a dog who seemed to love me from the start, but still offered her small signs of affection. I was willing to learn and grow with her. My goal was to have her look at me without any fear. So, I adopted her.
After the adoption process, I brought her into my car where she hastily jumped onto the front seat. I placed myself in the driver’s seat, and put my car in reverse. In doing so, I was interrupted by a paw being placed onto my forearm. I look over at my newly adopted dog, and she leaned over to lick my face. How great of a feeling to save a life.