Every Saturday morning when the transport full of rescued dogs pulls up to the pet supply store, I wonder who will touch my heart that day.
Will it be some innocent pup like Greenley whom, until she was freed, never knew life outside a cage or the feeling of grass between her toes?
Will it be someone like Browdy, recovering from heartworm disease, who was happy to just lie by my side, finally receiving the attention he so richly deserved?
Or will it be someone like Sasha who kept taking me for walks outside so she could smell the sweet May flowers while the air flapped her ears?
Maybe it will be someone like Teddy, whom I met while photographing an event at a Patchogue pet supply store…
That day, the volunteers and rescue dogs were outside, in front of the store, enjoying the sunny, breezy afternoon. I went about my business, photographing the animals and talking with volunteers, when I happened upon a big teddy bear of a dog just lying in a pen. I’m not comfortable around very big dogs, so I approached the pen tentatively. This enormous creature looked up at me and I thought I saw a faint smile form on his face.
As I bent down to pet his head, he closed his eyes in response. When I pet his ear, he leaned into my touch. All apprehension vanished and I climbed into the pen with him. They called him Teddy, so appropriate for this massive lad with honey colored fur. I sat on the ground next to him and spoke softly while petting his back. Teddy soon curled up resting his head on the ground. A gentle sigh escaped from this burly fellow.
“You made Teddy’s day,” one of the volunteers said.
He sighed several times, and my initial impression of a fearsome creature disappeared leaving in its place a sweet, innocent pup. As I continued petting Teddy, I noticed one of his legs was shaved up to the hip. In the middle of the shaved area was a long incision that appeared to be on the mend. I didn’t ask anyone what happened. I assumed he may have had a cyst and the rescue group took care of it.
Teddy touched my heart that day. He was so gentle and seemed to love people, and the attention I was giving him.
That night, I visited the rescue group’s website and searched for Teddy’s page hoping to learn what happened to him. Sure enough the answer jumped out at me. The answer startled me. Some horrible human being (a term used loosely) shot Teddy. He had a bullet in that leg and the rescue group saved his life.
The horror that people are capable of inflicting is unfathomable to me. But what’s more surprising is that Teddy doesn’t hate humans. Instead, he reaches out for attention from the very beings who hurt him. Maybe he can tell the difference between mean-spirited people and those who care. Maybe he is capable of forgiveness. If so, he is far better than I.
I can’t forgive someone who would hurt such a loving soul. I’m glad that Teddy is safe now, but my heart cries for all the Teddys in the world left unsaved.
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.