It is late Sunday and I am on my way home from another Last Chance Animal Rescue event at Petsmart in Port Jefferson Station.
I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it today, but my mind was fixed on getting there. This was a weekend of weighty emotions. Saturday was the memorial for my dear friend who died of ovarian cancer a few short months ago. Her family and friends gathered, embraced each other and shared memories of this dynamic woman. She changed each of our lives and we are truly better for having known her.
Now we are experiencing the dreaded transition, we shake our heads that this indomitable spirit finally gave up. We were caught off-guard, never expecting an ending. But she fought the good fight against this deadly foe, until there was no strength left to continue the war. She needed rest, she deserved her rest, but we feel cheated for having lost her. This morning I met again with her family. We made a pact to remain close always though they live a good distance from Long Island. Then I bid farewell and left. But I didn’t go home. I wanted to do something worthwhile in her name.
A short car ride brought me to the animal rescue event at Petsmart in Port Jefferson Station. Camera slung over my shoulder, I made my way to the store front where I was immediately met by a familiar whirlwind. Dogs and volunteers were enjoying this perfect, sun-shiny day as they held the event outdoors rather than inside. After the brutal winter, we needed to take full advantage of the warm sun and blue skies. The dogs were at their best, frolicking together, offering hugs and kisses to volunteers and people who stopped by for a lick on the cheek.
I was greeted by fellow volunteers. We are comrades in the plight with something very important in common—the love of dogs. We are a dedicated lot giving of our time away from our own families and weekend activities in the hopes that we might help a deserving dog find his or her forever home. We are at our happiest when we see a family accompanied by a sweet dog, walking off into eternity together. Long ago I had taken up the mission of photographing the dogs to display on the rescue Facebook. I learned the power of even one picture and realized my calling.
People have actually adopted dogs from a single photograph. So on this day, I camouflaged my extreme sadness with smiles as I greeted fellow volunteers and started the process of snapping pictures of the dogs. First there was Willie, who was taking in the sun with two of his buddies. The three looked like old friends sharing a spring afternoon as they sat there on the curb.
Then sweet Boe, though a big fellow, was all curled up in the arms of his pal. Next was little Blane who basked in the attention of his admirers. Max sat docile for all the activity surrounding him. There was dear Princess who recently came up from the Carolinas. Princess scrutinized her foster, was aware of her every move and when given the chance covered her with kisses. Then the mush, Digger, whose winning style had all the volunteers in love with him. Scooter, a very active little boy, wanted nothing more than to play with his volunteer pal. And lastly there was Sadie, a real lady, as regal as they come. The only thing missing for her was a wide-brimmed sunhat to help keep the glaring rays out of her eyes. As I circulated, camera in hand, my dog friends turned their attention to me. I wonder if they knew I was sad and needed their attention to help get me through the day.
Thank you for the catharsis that took hold as you allowed me to focus on you. Thank you Digger for being so cuddly and for all those hugs and kisses. Thank you Princess for that lick on the lips. Thank you, Max, for accepting my pats. Thank you all for allowing me to become immersed in taking your pictures. And thank you, volunteers of Last Chance, for being you—for clearly showing your love and your concern for the animals in your charge. Thank you for your tireless battle to save lives. You are in a class of your own and I am privileged to be in your company each week at these rescue events.
I am on my way home. I will start the Photoshop process and post your pictures on the Last Chance Facebook. I hope someone is looking, someone who is searching for a best friend. I hope that person will recognize that you are the one to meet. I pray that at least one of these pictures will give a great dog a happy ending. I pray for happy endings for all the great dogs who helped me get through this day and for all the beautiful little orphans out there looking for their forever homes.
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.