Today I fell in love with an angel. No, not the kind swathed in white with giant wings, though she could have wings tucked away in some invisible place around her.
I volunteer for Southampton-based Last Chance Animal Rescue (LCAR) on Saturdays. Last Chance does exactly what its name implies—it pulls endangered animals from high kill shelters and offers them a chance at a happily ever after with a loving family. Lily is one of many dogs who attend events all around Suffolk County waiting for their forever family to recognize and adopt them.
Lily, the name is defined as pure, good, innocent and exemplary, all fitting for this angel of a girl. Her paperwork suggests that she is a mix of a beagle/Australian cattle dog/blue heeler, whatever that is. One thing is for sure, Lily loves to snuggle and she doesn’t get involved in the wrestling that others of her species engage in. She sat by, as docile as could be while the other dogs were pawing and play-growling at each other. She glanced at them, then looked away as if embarrassed that her species could be so crass.
Does she know how to play, I wonder. Looking into her eyes I see an old soul for all her approximate four years here on this earth. Lily is safe now, rescued right before her time was up. She is so special I can’t fathom her being taken from this earth without even a chance at happiness.
But that’s what LCAR does. The good people of this rescue pull these lost souls from the brink of being euthanized. These dogs are vetted and sent on the freedom train—the transport that brings dogs north for their chance at a happy life.
Lily is safe and in the temporary care of a loving foster family. I had the opportunity to meet them at the Pet Valu rescue event in Setauket. She has a devoted foster mommy and a foster brother who loves her to pieces. If it wasn’t for the four dogs already in their family, I’m sure that Lily would have found her forever home with them.
But what are foster families and rescue volunteers to do? They cannot adopt every dog they fall in love with. That would soon become hoarding and isn’t healthy for anyone, least of all the dogs who have already gone through so much down south. The downside to volunteering and fostering is that animal lovers take on these roles and as such, we fall in love easily. Our hearts go out to all these lost souls and our first inclination is to want to provide the happiness they so richly deserve.
What is Lily’s story? She is so sweet to humans and animals alike. She is content to rest in her little bed. Her easy-going nature allows her to deal with the long days at these rescue events. Other dogs get antsy after a while—who could blame them—but Lily waits patiently, always the perfect little angel, once again a reflection of her appropriate name.
What has made her so docile, so mellow? All I know is what I see and what I have heard from the other volunteers. Lily has had it rough during her short life. She was abused. Signs of abuse are still apparent in her worn body. She walks with a limp. Her leg has healed after being broken, so she does not experience pain. Who knows how long ago that happened to her? Her right ear is tattered, a sign of abuse from either human or angry animal. Seeing Lily’s gentle nature, I can imagine that she didn’t even fight back. Lily loves to cuddle and she deserves all the cuddles and attention she can get. She deserves to be settled in her forever home and surrounded by a loving family.
After spending the day with Lily at the rescue event, it was hard for me to say goodbye to her. But I left reassured that she was in the caring arms of her foster mom and her foster brother. During my drive home, I was haunted by thoughts of this beloved girl. I picture her with my doxie gang. She would fit in I tell myself, but would I be doing right by her? I have three wonderful dogs. How many are too many? When I first decided to volunteer in animal rescue, I made an internal pact that my job is to help these dogs find homes, not to adopt every dog that touches my heart. I would be overrun with dogs by now if I gave in to my desire.
I can help Lily. I can let you know she is waiting for her perfect spot, maybe you could provide that for her. I can give her the hugs and kisses she so deserves while we are at events, but I can’t adopt her. That wouldn’t be right for my pack or for Lily. She should be the center of someone’s world, that wouldn’t be the case in my house as my three vie with each other for that position.
I’m certain she will find her place. The right family will see her and it will be love at first sight. They will immediately know they belong together. I wish that for Lily. But it didn’t happen this week, maybe next, maybe the week after that. I can’t imagine it will take too long for someone to recognize the angel in those eyes, the love in her old soul and be ready to return it threefold. But in the meantime, Lily and I take solace in the fact that she has a fine temporary family environment.
But we look forward to that special day when her rightful family will see all that I see in the girl plus so much more.
To find out more about Last Chance Animal Rescue and potential adoptions, visit lcarf.org.
Barbara Anne Kirshner is the author of Madison Weatherbee-The Different Dachshund. She is a regular contributor to DansPapers.com.