So I put those search criteria on the cool website Pet Harbor and when the site let me know that the Montgomery County (Maryland) Humane Society (from whence Bella came into my life) had a nine-year old girl in need of a home, ace adventurer Deena and I braved ridiculous rush-hour traffic (a trip Google Maps clocked at 34 minutes actually took an hour) to meet her.
She was a love and a half, but she already had an application in. That thrilled me, because all I want in the end is for every dog to have a home of her own. Being in the shelter was emotional, though. To say the least.
I spend a fair amount of time with dogs from shelters, but I rarely have occasion to go to shelters. The first & last time I was at MoCo Humane was to sign the paperwork for Bella (I had met and gotten to spend time with her at the former Dogs by Day and Night, where she was fostered). And I was not very tough about it.
The shelter employees and volunteers were, to a person, caring & involved. The dogs were clearly well taken care of. But shelters are a stressful place and the dogs were not happy. And so many of them were owner surrenders! Which means that many of these guys in row after row of cages had previously been on someone's couch. And that broke my heart.
My heart was actually in smithereens by the time I got out of there. And it took awhile, because I just wanted to talk softly to every one of those sweet faces and I wanted to try to figure out how I could bring every sweet face home and end all the world's suffering.
I completely lost it when I saw one sweet girl, an owner surrender, lying on the floor of her cage shaking in terror.
Bella had been an owner surrender and her foster mom told me that the reason she chose my dog to foster was that Bella lay in the back of her cage shaking, and she wasn't 'showing well' to people looking for the dog o' their dreams.
When she told me this, five years ago, Bella was safe and warm and very, very happy. I didn't even try to imagine her shaking and terrified. And now here was a dog like she had been. And it felt unspeakably unfair that I couldn't open the cage door and go in and sit with her. Hold her.
I imagine the shelter workers must have thought I was a lightweight. A woman who just breezed in and then got to go home. I am, I was. I deeply admire those who can do the dirty work, stand with the suffering every day. I am a total lightweight and I slept exactly one hour that night. The bulk of the rest of those long hours was spent lying in bed picturing that shivering dog's pleading eyes or the long line of all the dogs put down in a year snaking up a never-ending mountain.
I also tore through my refrigerator and freezer in a desperate hunt for something sweet. (I have little food stored as I need to buy what I want to eat shortly before eating it and even then, shopping is a big pain for me. I'll go to the market hungry for one thing, get it home and have completely lost my desire for it, suddenly craving something else entirely. I'll then stick the now-unwanted foodstuff in the fridge or freezer and either eat it later or toss it when it grows some fuzz.) I knew exactly what few things I had recently purchased and none of them was chocolate but, haunted by those eyes, I needed *something* sweet. Some. Thing. Sweet.
I didn't even have jam!
I tried to turn on my computer to post about it here, but, lucky for you, the wireless wouldn't connect. It was maybe three in the morning by then and who knows what disjointed tale of dog suffering and sugar jonesing would have been set down.
In the freezer next to five-year old cookies (you read that right. Apparently I brought home cookies I decorated at a long-ago Christmas party and stashed them in the freezer. They didn't appeal to me in December 2005, but I was tempted by them this week) I found a square of something that might have been white chocolate except I haven't bought white chocolate since I was really into it in seventh grade, and I ate that. As I chewed it, I wondered what the chances were it was some treat of Bella's. Or, worse, some medication of Bella's.
Oh, I also spent alot of time texting with Kris in Oklahoma and Jamie in Virginia. They are rescue dog lunatics (RDLs) themselves and they tried hard to talk me off the proverbial ledge.
It was a bad night.
I felt better in the light of day. And Deena sent me this awesome pic she mocked up on I Can Haz Cheezeburger, which calmed me just enough to get back to the work of trying to end suffering. (In answer to your question, yes, those eyes still haunt me.)
**Note to self: Must find way to make sure all dogs find homes.
**Note to you: There is a part three to the week and it's happier than this, but now I am all wrung out and must rest.