Having grown up with three dogs, it seems only natural that animal rights would develop into a passion. However, when I started volunteering at the local humane league three years ago, it was with a purpose that was much more personal. A part of me was trying to heal from the loss of two of my beloved dogs within the same year, knowing too well that the loss of the third dog — the dog that had really been mine growing up — was inevitable.
I never wrote about the loss of Sampson because, quite frankly, even thinking about it now still brings me close to tears. If you’ve ever loved and lost a dog, you know what is in my heart – gratitude at having loved an animal so dearly and a bit of lingering grief at having lost them too soon. If I had my way, dogs would live forever – fifteen years is over in the blink of an eye, but still, I know, the love that they create in your life is without measure, without an end.
I got lucky.
I was with all of my dogs when they passed away, and, frankly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I took their losses harder than that of either of my grandparents, and it took me a long, long time to reconcile the anger and the guilt I felt for that. But I will forever feel blessed for having been with them, loving them, until those last moments that are forever ingrained in my memory.
But still, it’s not enough.
I have a deep respect for so many other causes and contribute as much as I can when I can, cheering on friends who fight to end poverty and hunger in third world-countries, helping to bring books to inspire and educate villages, fundraising to support research to find a cure for diseases that have just as much of a personal impact.
But this is the cause that fuels me, the one I’ve been trying to dedicate myself to for the past few months and even years, since the day I first walked through the door of the local humane league.
It was my way to give back and be around the animals I love so dearly while easing the pain of those losses I had recently faced. But what I received was worth much more than I could ever give. I found Riley, who has been my greatest joy and helped relieve the grief of Sam’s passing. While my other dogs were family dogs, Riley became my child, my little boy, my sole responsibility. Chewed sneakers, missing socks, and emergency trips to the vet and I’ve still never been more grateful for the day that voice inside of me whispered that this dog had found a home with me. Or, more accurately, that I had found a home with him.
Love a dog and you’ll experience love in one of the purest forms. Which is why when I hear about cruelty to animals in any form, it’s more than just a passing phase of sympathy and anger — it’s a call to action, a chance to make a change. Inhumane treatment of any living creature is inexcusable, but cruelty to the innocent goes far beyond that.
We’ve become a society where we look the other way, where we turn the channel and then plead ignorance, where we lament after the fact, where sympathy and compassion follow the crime rather than working to prevent it.
But compassion doesn’t have a time frame. Action happens now.
Thousands of animals are brought into the shelters as strays or given up because a family won’t or can’t provide for them. Hundreds more never know what it’s like to have a family, as a cramped, wire cage is all they have ever known. There are people who work tirelessly to make sure these dogs are saved from a lifetime of abandonment, of loneliness, of mistreatment, who make it their goal to provide not only a shelter, but a home, not only basic care, but love.
A Voice for the Voiceless
I don’t do this often, but today I’m asking for your help. Hundreds of shelters across the United States are in dire need of help to care for the very animals they are trying to save. Operating such a facility and caring for the animals takes a tremendous amount of financial resources in order to provide them with the proper shelter, food, comfort, and veterinary care.
Beginning today, a widget is placed on both twenty(or)something and Typescript that welcomes donations to the ASPCA. If you’re unable to provide a monetary donation, there are other ways to help:
Your local SPCA or humane league always welcomes volunteers to help with fundraising, legislation, community development and awareness, and direct animal care. Gifts-in-kind — anything from food to treats to toys to blankets, sheets, and old towels — can provide the animals with a little piece of comfort as they wait for their forever family.
Everything you do makes a difference in the world. Anything you can do can make a difference for these animals. Please help me spread the word as we find a forever home for our forever friends.
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Pedigree, ASPCA, or HSUS. “We Are Their Voice” is a TM of the ASPCA.