During October, we observe “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month” sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Like many folks, I have my own tale of a canine creature longing to be loved.
My story begins more than a decade ago. The alarm clock read exactly 11:52 p.m. when the automobile’s headlights shone through my bedroom window, instantly waking me from sleep. Before dozing off, I had prayed a childlike prayer simply asking for “help.”
My need for divine assistance that fall was created by the homesickness relocating can produce. My school administrator husband and I had just rented an old, rural farmhouse in a new school district.
Moving can be an exciting adventure, but meeting new people and packing and unpacking countless boxes can leave one anxious and tired. Missing family and friends left behind is even more heartrending.
I soon discovered the lonely nights in the country can be eerily silent. That’s why, after being awakened, my mind became suddenly alert at the sound of stones grinding beneath unfamiliar tires.
Creeping from my bed, I crouched under the windowsill to look out at the stranger’s car. Mysteriously, the driver turned the aging sedan’s headlights off, and then quickly backed out onto the road again. My husband slept through it all.
“Woof, woof, woof!” It was not until about 7 a.m., when we both heard barking. The car’s owner had dropped off an adorable, but mangy poodle, who was hiding on our front porch. I tried to comfort the neglected-looking pup, but his body shook spasmodically as he cowered beneath our outdoor white wicker sofa.
“It’s okay, little buddy. Nobody’s going to hurt you,” my husband said soothingly. Hearing Larry’s male voice, the approximately six-month-old canine shook harder and growled threateningly. We instinctively realized he had probably been abused.
A few hours later, I sat on the farmhouse porch sympathizing with the abandoned animal who refused to eat the dog food I had purchased for him. Finally, after a lot of coaxing, the poodle came out from beneath the couch and greedily devoured his food. By the next morning, he wouldn’t leave my side. Soon, he warmed up to my hubby, too.
Unfortunately, a few days later, our elderly landlords came to our door and said the puppy couldn’t stay. In fairness to this wonderful couple, we had promised we were a family without pets, but that was before the pintsized poodle showed up.
I was heartbroken, but I have to admit I was overwhelmed by the constant care and attention the pooch required. Larry and I both worked lots of hours and while we were away, the puppy would chew things up and bark incessantly.
Later, our landlord’s 40-something son offered his advice, “Whatever you do, don’t name him.”
My husband and I looked at each other guiltily.
“You already have, haven’t you? What’s his name?”
“Blessing,” we chimed in unison.
The wise middle-aged farmer didn’t speak, but his concerned look did. He knew that a blessing is a God-given present. He also knew his elderly mother was serious, we couldn’t keep our “Blessing.”
I was devastated, but determined to find my canine charge the best possible home. Thankfully, I quickly located some caring folks at a nearby county’s Humane Society. They promised to find Blessing a wonderful home, and allowed me to monitor his progress.
That night, I tearfully surrendered Blessing into the arms of a compassionate female employee, understanding it was the right thing to do. A week later, I called the shelter and found out Blessing was immensely enjoying the company of the other dogs there.
The following week, I phoned again. This time, a rescue worker excitedly informed me, at that very moment “my” puppy was being adopted by an older couple with a good reputation. The husband was disabled and needed companionship. My heart leapt for joy, because Blessing had found his forever home.
My husband believes Blessing wouldn’t have been adoptable, if we hadn’t fostered him and helped him to trust again. As for me, Blessing reminded me our prayers for “help” are always answered, as the puppy’s temporary presence gave me renewed purpose.
Please remember the ASPCA estimates that 3.3 million dogs enter a shelter every year. Like Blessing, each one of this precious animals needs a forever home.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.