Shelter Animal

Wanted:  Good, loving, caring home for older female.  Has some idiosyncrasies and anomalous behavior as a result of early abusive treatment and rejection by prior owners.  She is, however, loyal, faithful, and eager to please, in spite of trust and fear issues.  Doesn’t do many tricks, but is housebroken.  Hates baths.  Affectionate.  If interested, please call.  Please.  Call.

I guess I should mention one more little detail about the female who needs a home.  It’s me.

I remember as a young girl begging my parents for a dog.  I loved animals; dogs in particular.  I was the child who brought home all the strays.  Cats, dogs, baby rabbits, even baby mice. But I never got to keep them.  My father was a hunter.  He didn’t really value animals, other than for the food they provided.  I, on the other hand, often revived the fish he caught in the bathtub once he got home. Took sick woodpeckers to the vet.  All animals were worthy (except snakes).   I felt a special connection with dogs, however, so after having yet another stray taken away (and likely killed by my father), I started a campaign to gain permission to get a dog. 

It took a long time to convince my parents that I would be responsible for caring for a pet.  I had almost given up when they finally relented.  I was filled with joy and excitement when, one beautiful Saturday morning, we set off for the animal shelter to look at the dogs that were waiting for adoption.  I was wiggling almost as much as they were as I went from pen to pen.  The dogs jumped and danced.  They licked my fingers and stuck their noses through the wire fenced cage gates.  I wanted all of them! 

And then, I saw Lady.

She was curled up in the back of her pen, tail tucked, looking sad and forlorn.  So sure was she of being rejected, she had stopped trying to gain attention.  I almost didn’t see her.

They let me in the pen with her because she wouldn’t come up to the gate.  I sat on the cold concrete floor and coaxed her onto my lap.  And I knew she was the one.  She needed me.  She needed my love, approval, and acceptance.  She was at least part Cairn Terrier, a wheat color with thick, wiry fur.  And she was a smaller dog, sweet, and affectionate.  I was sold.  Hooked.  She was mine.

Lady was fairly young when she came home with me…they estimated her to be 1 to 2 years old.  She lived a long life.  I kept my promise and took care of her.  I loved her.  I even got into trouble occasionally because I couldn’t bear to stop petting her before school, which made me late.  She had such a great need for affection and I had a great need for her unconditional love.  Though she was an outside dog, I spent hours playing with her and showering her with attention.  I had to leave her behind when I left home, which broke my heart.  But by then, even my father had accepted her into the family.  She finally found a place where she was loved and wanted.

I feel very much like a shelter animal, hiding in the corner, no longer able to hope someone will discover me and see value in me.  I long for someone to offer me a place in their heart.  Give me love.  Make me theirs.  

I have waited a long time.

Again and again, I am passed over.  Again and again, someone cuter, better, more wonderful, healthier, and easier is removed from their pitiful cage and set free.  Taken home.  Loved.  I watch it happen.  I’m happy for them.  The others.  But I am so alone it hurts.  I stay in my corner.  I know this thing called love is not for me.  Acceptance is never to be mine.

Lady found love.  A home.   

I am not so fortunate.  I fear I will die a shelter animal.  In my cage.  Alone. 

2 thoughts on “Shelter Animal”

  1. Dear Rbird,
    I happened upon your post and I feel I just need to reach out to you because although I can see all of the pain and sadness in it, there’s something else there that maybe you don’t see. You have a beautiful light inside of you that’s pure and loving. It’s what let you connect with Lady, and it’s so strong that even years and years of abuse didn’t extinguish it. You have that love, but people have let you down in your life repeatedly, so you don’t feel like they are safe, yet you still long for human connection. Animals though, dogs especially, they will never let you down. They will always love you and be happy to see you no matter what, so it’s safe to connect with them. I’m sorry if I’m being presumptuous, but I feel I’ve been there, so I just wanted to let you know in case you don’t see it yourself, that along with the sadness and despair, there’s also beauty and hope entangled in there in your post. Please believe that there are people in the world who will not mistreat you. If you believe, then you’ll try to find them, and if you don’t find them right away, you’ll keep trying.
    Nancy

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