Last month, we received so many responses to our “Share Your Story” challenge inquiring about your best animal adoption stories, that we couldn’t fit them all in one issue! Here’s yet another story from a proud mom, who shares how her daughter’s compassion and determination benefited an animal, and an entire community. – Editor
by Emi Mead, Sun City Center
He arrived at my daughter’s door at dusk. She’s not sure why she even looked out to notice him but the look in his soulful eyes told her he was searching for help. Was this dog just lost, my daughter wondered, venturing too far from the place he called home or had he been deliberately abandoned?
She approached him cautiously as not to frighten him or incite him with a strange presence. But maybe he didn’t look at her as a stranger – he seemed to seek her out, as if he instinctively knew she was a friend… or maybe just plain divine intervention stepped in. He let her scratch his ears extending a mutual olive branch that they both meant no harm. When she put a bowl of water out for this parched traveler, he appeared grateful and drank as if no one had ever given him water or offered any kindness to him before.
The late evening air became chilly and my daughter found the trust and kindness to let him inside. Seeing him in full light made her eyes fill with tears. He wore a collar so tight it was imbedded into his filthy fur and offered no clue as to his home or identity. The only vague clue was the remains of a broken hook, apparently broken when he pulled loose from having been chained. My daughter’s conscience told her she should try to find his rightful owners but her heart told her his pitiful condition indicated severe neglect – and he didn’t deserve to be sent back to wherever it was he broke free from.
In less than 24 hours my daughter had fallen in love with this loving little mutt, even renaming him “Jake”. But the following morning forced her to admit this could never be a long-term relationship. Her work requires extensive travel and taking him to work with her was not exactly an option. “Maybe I could pretend he is a seeing-eye service dog”, she said. “For a flight attendant??” I asked.
Admittedly, it wasn’t her best idea. In the weakened moments the night before, she envisioned him living with her permanently, with endless friends and family offering to babysit him. But in the light of day, she knew that wasn’t his best future. She called area animal shelters to report a lost dog, and when no one claimed him, she knew she had to keep working for him on his behalf. She discovered a program called Safe Harbor Prison Dogs where dogs are placed with foster families who prepare them to work with prison inmates until they can be adopted. Although their program was currently full (with a waiting list), my daughter knew if they just saw Jake, they’d change their minds, she thought. She drove him to the shelter to introduce him, knowing anyone would fall in love with him and would make an exception to include him in their program.
As it turns out, my daughter was right. Jake is now gainfully employed – with Safe Harbor Prison Dogs – thanks to the compassion and persistence of my daughter. (And, as her mom, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when she told me she cried all the way home).