It was a frigid February morning. All the volunteers huddled outside the pet supply store anticipating the transport from the Carolinas. Soon a big, white van arrived and the side door opened revealing crates of dogs stacked inside. The driver and his co-pilot methodically pulled dogs from crates. They handed a little Labrador puppy to one of the volunteers. Next, a black and white puppy was shoved into my arms. Other dogs followed—a white pit bull mix and a large, tan mixed breed.
I took my charge to a grassy area. When I put her down, she stood trembling with feet seemingly cemented to the ground and tail tucked tightly between her legs. I feared maybe she couldn’t move. What had she experienced in her short life that left her cringing? Her eyes squinted terribly from the sun. The notion hit me maybe she hadn’t experienced much of the outdoors. Had this little one ever smelled the fresh air or felt the sun on her face? Had she been reduced to life inside a cage?
I spoke gently to the pup and that seemed to be the key to unlock her heart. She looked up at me, still shaking, but she enjoyed the soothing sound of my voice. Her tiny body relaxed and the trembling subsided. I coaxed her to take a few steps. She tried, but her hind legs were still in a stiff crouching position. Maybe those hind legs didn’t have room to stretch during all that time in the transport crate. She was cold from being outside in this frozen February morning, so I picked her up, carried her inside the pet supply store to a pen that had been set up for the dogs. The pen was large enough for a person to sit within its confines. I got a bowl of kibble, joined my girl and placed the bowl before her. She immediately went about devouring it. When was her last meal?
After a brief rest, I carried her outside again. We went back to the little grassy area and I put her down. Her once crunched hind legs gained enough strength to hold her up. We walked together down a nearby path. Those formerly sunken eyes, now danced with lively expression. The more I spoke to her, the more animated she became.
It was good to witness such a dramatic transformation in the pup. Her tightly tucked tail now stretched out flag-like and wagged. She put her paws on my shoulders and licked my lips. She even seemed to be smiling at me. This puppy was coming to life, letting her sweet nature shine through. All she really wanted was a companion, someone kind, someone she could trust.
I took her back inside. After all, my aim was to find a forever home for her and that wouldn’t happen if we stayed out here.
Believe me, the thought of making her mine was difficult to ignore. But I was a dog rescue volunteer whose purpose was to help dogs find their forever homes. I had only been volunteering for one month at that time. Each week, there was another dog that I could seriously consider taking home, but I couldn’t help all the dogs that way. I could help by finding happy homes for them and that’s what I wanted for this pup.
This little one who had come with the unlikely name of Greenley now walked proudly around the pen and played with the Lab puppy. The big white pit bull mix joined in and they all seemed to get along quite well.
The afternoon was in full swing. A woman accompanied by her young daughter and her mother had their eyes on the white pit bull mix named Sam. They were attracted to his gentle temperament and friendly ways.
While I was involved with Sam’s adoption, a young couple came in and was instantly drawn to Greenley. The young man cradled what appeared to be a mixed breed dachshund called Tulip. She was beautiful with a gorgeous black face and spots of black on fluffy white fur. It was obvious that this dog received much love and care from the young couple. They showed me a picture of their entire canine family consisting of their parents’ dogs, two yellow Labs, a cocker spaniel and Tulip, who was nestled in the middle of the group. Greenley would surely have a big extended family should she be adopted by them.
After a cordial meet and greet between Tulip and Greenley, the couple decided this little pup made the perfect addition. I took a picture of Greenley before she left. All the while inside I was screaming, “Stop! She’s mine!” But those words never burst from my lips. I had to be Greenley’s advocate and I had to be happy for her. She was getting a loving family.
Just a few hours ago, this was a frightened shell of a dog. I gave her the kindness she desperately needed to blossom. I had done my job well and my reward was seeing Greenley find her forever home.
That day was Greenley’s day. No more life seen from inside a cage. The next day she would wake to love and freedom. She would feel the air brush her fur and the sun warm her face. She would be given food and all the water she could drink. She would receive loving kisses from the young couple. She would be content.
Barbara Anne Kirshner is the author of Madison Weatherbee-The Different Dachshund. She will be reading from and discussing her book at Book Revue in Huntington (313 New York Avenue) on Thursday, October 9 at 7 p.m. Visit bookrevue.com for more info.