It’s been a while since I first wrote this blog post, but I wanted to share it anyway.
Sometimes a dog steals your heart. You’re not really paying attention and *BAM* It hits you like a ton of bricks. It happens to shelter volunteers often. We all have our favorites. Sometimes there is one that just stands out from the rest. It could be their smile, their story, the look in their eyes. Whatever it is, it captivates you and you are moved to action.
For me, the minute I met Presley I knew she was special. She was lying on the Kuranda bed in the back of her kennel, all snuggled up. As I unlatched her door, she jumped down and hobbled toward me. That’s when I noticed her leg. I thought to myself “maybe I shouldn’t take her out” – after all, she was limping. I checked her paperwork and the notes said it was an old break that wasn’t causing her any pain. By this time, she was sitting at the front of her kennel, tail wagging, looking up at me. With. Those. Eyes. I opened the door, slipped on her collar, and off we went.
When we got outside, she was so happy. It was her first day out of the shelter – her stray hold had just expired that morning. I walked her over to the area where I take photos and handed her to Brian. He knelt down and she jumped into his arms, clinging to him as if her life depended on it. Little did we know, later it would. She was not interested in anything except snuggling for the first few minutes outside, her crooked leg wrapped around Brian’s shoulder. She licked his face and wagged her tail. My heart melted. Just look at her, so happy and content to have human contact.
That same day, we met three other dogs for whom I melted – Circa, Mighty Joe, and Tito. When I learned that Tito was euthanized later that week, I balled like a baby. A big stinkin baby. I was utterly and completely devastated. I felt so helpless. It didn’t even occur to me that such a sweet, friendly, affectionate dog would be killed so quickly, without being given the chance to find a forever home. Maybe I was too naive at the time to think such a wonderful dog was “safe”. I’ve come to realize that no dog is safe. I hadn’t cried like that in a long time, so I knew I needed to make sure the other ones were looked after. I couldn’t bear the thought of another dog facing the same fate as my beloved Tito.
When Hurricane Irene came, BARCS evacuated animals for the weekend. When we went down to pull a dog to foster, we didn’t necessarily have anyone in mind. At least that’s what I thought. When I saw Presley was still available, I snatched her up and cheerfully took her home with us. She was in heaven for the night, snuggling with Brian on the couch, sleeping with us in bed. She was the queen for the night because I knew in 24 hours she would have to go back to the cold floor of the shelter. As much as I wanted to keep her, I knew we couldn’t. We were in the midst of renting out our house and moving in with my dad. The timing wasn’t right.
However, while snuggling with Presley on the couch during the hurricane, Brian looked over at me and said “you know, of all the dogs we’re fostered, I’d be devastated if anything bad happened to her.” I was shocked. Brian never says things like that. He’s the reason we don’t have 20 dogs right now. He’s always the one who puts his foot down. So, when he said that, I smiled. “Does that mean we can put our name on her file as her last resort?” He nodded. “Yes.”
Presley went back to the shelter and our names went on her file. Nothing bad was going to happen to her if I had anything to do with it. Every time I went to the shelter after that, I spent extra special time with Presley – extra long walks, laying in the sunshine, sitting with her in her kennel, extra treats and peanut butter filled Kongs. She was my girl and I was going to do whatever it took to make sure she knew she was loved.
Then I got “the call”. Presley was being pulled for euthanasia due to space. I remember calling Brian after I got off the phone with BARCS and I said “They are pulling Presley. I’m on my way to BARCS right now to get her. I don’t know what we’re going to do with her, but we’ll figure it out. Today is not her last!” He didn’t yell at me, didn’t call me crazy… amazingly (thanks baby!) He just said “yup, we’ll figure it out. Go get her.” My heart raced as I sped down the highway, off to save my Presley. I ran in and went right to her kennel. There she was, curled up on her Kuranda bed. As soon as she saw me, she ran to the front of the kennel. I slipped on her collar and together, we walked to the front office and said our goodbyes. We walked out of those front doors and had our own mini celebration. She was safe and would never find herself back there ever again. I knelt down and she jumped up on her back feet, hugging me with her crooked little leg. She gently kissed my face and looked at me with those eyes. As if to say “thank you for saving my life.”
Everyone has a story about ‘the one’. The one that steals your heart and prompts you to do something. Most of us have more than one. For me, first it was Yogurt, then Karl, then Presley. Each of them stole a little piece of my heart, but I think Presley stole the biggest piece. There was just something about her. Someday, I hope to be able to help many more deserving pups like Presley and one day, I’d love to have my own rescue for dogs that are in danger. Because dying scared and alone in the shelter should not be the fate of any dog. They deserve better and I will do whatever I can to make a difference in the lives of these dogs.
As for Presley, I’m happy to report that she has found her forever home with a wonderful family who simply adores her. I think about her often, hoping she knows just how much a part of me she really is. Love you, Pressy-Poo!