Monday began the way many Mondays do. The FFAA phone began ringing at 7:20AM. Calls came continually all day and into the evening. That evening, I tucked our twelve puppies in for the night and drug my tired backside into the house. I checked the phone messages one last time. I had four voicemails from a person who had adopted a pair of dogs from us over the weekend. Things had not gone well and she asked that I come get them. The situation needed immediate attention so at 8:30PM I drove to eastern Newton County to pick up Buddy and Bridgett.
Buddy (a handsome black Lab) and Bridgett (a beautiful Australian Shepherd) were abandoned a year ago when their family moved away from their rural home and left them behind. For an entire year these two have slept in a nasty, junk filled old chicken house and remained at this remote place where they were left to die or try to survive on their own. FFAA was called when neighbors discovered them. By this time Mr. and Mrs. "B" had become the parents to four gorgeous Aussie/Lab mix puppies. They were all quickly adopted. We spayed and neutered "mom and dad" but have never been able to find a foster or forever home for them. On a daily basis, someone has gone by to check on these two great dogs. We are always greeted by two ecstatic dogs, starved for human touch and interaction. They shower us with appreciation and affection at every visit. Saying "good-bye" to them is always difficult.
It finally happened ... we received an application to adopt them both. It seemed like a great rural setting for them. It was a thrill to watch them jump into the Jeep for what I thought would be a trip to their forever home. I told them life was about to get much, much better. Without going into all the details, we sadly discovered that these two were not a good match for this particular home. Late Monday evening I found myself driving them back to their dark, lonely, abandoned home. As we drove, Buddy rode on the console with his paw on my shoulder, giving me sloppy licks on the cheek, asking for reassurance. Bridgett just sat quietly, watching out the window. I felt like such a heel when I pulled up to their old familiar shed behind the dark empty house. The three of us slowly piled out of the car. I sat down on the ground with them, as they tucked themselves in on each side of me, one under each arm. I held them both tight and told them how sorry I was. I told them it wasn't their fault. If we were going to cast blame, it would be on the heartless people who moved away and left them there.
In those moments, I entered the most dangerous place I go, as an animal rescuer. Anger and bitterness slowly crept into me as I sat there in the dark with my arms around them both. At the end of a day like this, when I had heard countless stories about people who have mistreated, abandoned, or abused wonderful, loyal, defenseless dogs like these, bitterness could take deep root. I know I can't allow that. If anything could derail what I do, or what Faithful Friends does, it would be turning into blaming, angry, bitter people. What we do takes every bit of energy and inner strength we can muster. We can't afford to allow it to be wastefully spent on those ugly, energy zapping emotions.
The remedy; focus on these amazing dogs. Focus on their future, not their past. Dean Koontz said in his book, A Big Little Life: "One of the greatest gifts we receive from dogs is the tenderness they evoke in us. The disappointments of life, the injustices, the battering events that are beyond our control...........can make us cynical and turn our hearts into flint on which the matches of anger and bitterness can be struck into flame.....but the joy, curiosity and wonder with which dogs embrace each new experience, their constant gratitude for what we give them.........can melt away cynicism and sweeten a bitter heart."