Part of my job requires me to knock on the doors of a lot of local businesses. Today I walked into a local boarding kennel for dogs, and was surprised that the owner had a play room full of rescued dogs from puppy mills throughout the country. To my delight, the on-duty attendant invited me into this play pen filled with dog beds and toys to socialize with these abused animals. I sat right in the middle of the pile of toys and treats and proceeded to woe these creatures to interact with me. Of the 10 dogs, one tiny chiwawa came up to me shivering and graciously welcomed my attention. Another one dropped a toy in front of me. The rest of them circled me warily.
The attendant informed me the entire batch of dogs had just been rescued from a puppy mill somewhere in Ohio. She went on to tell me the owner, Toni, was dedicated to welcoming these dogs from all over the country, rehabilitating them, potty training them and socializing them so that they become suitable for adoption. Like me, Toni is a breast cancer survivor. She began this adjunctive business as an addition to her core boarding facility because of her passion to save animals. And because, in her words, going through cancer wakes you up to what matters in life.
Toni pointed out that she will never become rich by rescuing these abused dogs, but her heart will always be full because she's doing something that makes a difference. I was so touched by her commitment to rescue these dogs, I volunteered my time to walk and socialize with the dogs a couple hours a week right on the spot.
I have always loved animals, and feel it's better to adopt a pet that's homeless. As proof, all three of my current cats have been rescued. I adopted my first cat from an eccentric woman in my old neighborhood who had some 20 cats. They were crawling in her car, they were sitting on the roof, they were everywhere! Since Oscar liked more attention then she was capable of giving him, she willingly let me have him. After all, when I started giving him food, he never bothered to return to her home. I got my second cat from a local cat shelter. Tigger was one of four kittens from a feral mother who gave birth to her litter in someone's garage. One kitten died from the rainly weather, but three made it. It broke my heart to see these three kittens shivering in a cage at the shelter. I would have liked to take all three, but I already had Oscar-Mango.
My third cat, Gypsy, was wandering homeless in my neighborhood and started sleeping in my garage during winter to stay warm. In summer I fed him and he slept right outside the door. By fall when it started to cold, I invited hime inside and he's been making himself at home ever since. I later found out he was thrown out of truck by a family who had way too many cats in a house they were evicted from some 15 miles away. That's why I named him Gypsy.
I feel good about adopting these beautiful animals and they truly enrich my life. I have volunteered for animal shelters before and I must confess, I get very emotional about taking care of homeless dogs. But if I don't step up to the plate, who will? The way I look at it, my free time is better spent walking a dog with no owner, than aimlessly wondering through stores buying stuff I don't need. Toni brought something to my attention. When you have had cancer, you've got to get your priorities in order. Give of yourself. Make a difference.