I am a very lucky woman.
I have five dogs I love dearly, and I have had two other dogs and several cats in my adult life who have enriched my life immeasurably.
Every one of these animals has been a rescue — from my local humane society or from a rescue organization.
Some day I might have a dog from a responsible, ethical breeder, but even if I do not, I owe them a lot of gratitude.
The breeders I know participate in a variety of activities with their dogs. They do extensive health testing and share that information with the breed community openly. They carefully screen propective homes and are committed to their puppies – and puppy owners – for the rest of their lives.
I have been asked a whole lot of questions to make sure I was the right home for the dogs who have come into my home. I have signed contracts that acknowledge the rights of the rescue organization to consider the well-being of the dog AHEAD of my so-called property rights. I’m fine with that.
*I* want to know that whatever happens to me, these dogs will be properly cared for. Lord knows they have given me a wealth of joy, companionship, and a greater understanding of myself and of unconditional love.
I have experienced intense grief at the death of my dogs. Yet even in the midst of that grief was the understanding of how lucky I have been to have shared my life with these extraordinary creatures, to have learned so much from them and to have absorbed enough strength and determination from them to have done my own work in rescue.
Dogs are wonderful at living in the moment, at being concerned about interractions here and now. They do not judge, although they are certainly capable of making decisions, based on things we are incapable of perceiving.
They help us understand that although we may be the centers of their universe, we are not the center of the universe. They make us better people simply by expecting us to be wonderful.
I wish I had the words to express the impact each of my dogs has had on my heart and my soul, but I don’t know that those words exist. If they do, it would take someone more skilled than I to write them.
What I can write is that each smile my dogs give me is a gift without price, each laugh is a rainbow, each moment of compassion and companionship brings contentment and peace that cannot be compared.
Sharing a bond with these animals is a joy – a treasure that may be briefly buried in worldly cares, but will always be available if you just pay attention.
The grief is such a small part of life with dogs. The joy is what fills your soul.