Not wanting to polarize the animal rescue effort with my politics and personal beliefs, I’ve been writing elsewhere, including here.
In September, as you may know, my kid and husband and I set out to volunteer at the State Fair of Texas with a local dog rescue group. We were looking for a way to get Bella interested in community service doing something that we felt she’d enjoy as well as find educational. I never expected it would change my life.
I knew the world was full of dark cracks in the pavement that we often avoid out of convenience. I didn’t know, however, that I could find such joy within those cracks. Animal rescue always seemed like an overwhelming task, and I wasn’t sure I could make a difference. I know that’s not true now, having seen exactly what happens when people stand together in responsible action.
We have a home with only two spoiled cats, both previously rescued before we ever thought to set out for the fair mission. I think frequently about how much I love them and how happy they’ve made us, about what a huge change their presence has brought in our home and about how lucky we were to find them before they were euthanized. Once at the fair, though, I quickly realized we could easily repay the rescue effort by offering to foster just one dog at a time.
Just one dog at a time made a difference to every family who is in love with their new forever pets, families who would never have had the opportunities to discover their new BFFs if rescues hadn’t stepped up. Just one dog at a time saved a dog on death row. Just one dog at a time saved a rescue from having to board an animal, enabling scarce resources to help other animals with medical needs. Just one dog at a time has taught us that the world is full of hope within those dark pockets.
Soon enough I discovered that people want to help, but sometimes aren’t sure where to begin. Even though we’re complete noobs in this world, friends who wanted to volunteer have asked us how to get involved, where to get low cost vaccines and care, how to avoid taking an animal to a shelter. Neighbors started alerting us to other animals who needed a hand. It seemed contagious, pleasantly, and that put a kind perspective on something I thought just a year ago was too daunting to undertake — even just one dog at a time.
During an adoption event, a sixth grade girl petted one of the dogs our group is fostering. She told me about how her parents divorced, that she wished she could have a dog or a cat, but that they couldn’t at that time. I asked her if she thought her parents would let her help me with the rescue cats who live at a local pet supply store, awaiting adoptive homes. Her dad agreed, so we exchanged info and agreed to meet the following Saturday.
That evening I received a barrage of the sweetest text messages ever from the excited girl: What should she bring? Could we play with the cats outside of the cat condos? Would it be okay if she helped every week? She thanked me with a lot of smiley-faced emoticons. I told her she needed to thank herself.
That Saturday the girl arrived fifteen minutes early, ready to scoop cat poo and disinfect the cats’ homes. She wanted to work and did so like a complete trouper.
Later in the evening, she again texted me about how happy she was to help. Remember, we’re talking about a kid here, folks. My heart melted.
Over the course of our past few play dates with the kitties, this young girl, kindly dropped off by her parents on their respective weekend visitation schedules, inspired me tremendously — maybe more so than anything else I’ve seen thus far in my journey. She’s giving up her Saturday evenings to help a total stranger care for animals who have no homes. This girl is going to, in turn, show other kids how easy it is to become involved in whatever is important to them.
Really, that’s all it’s about, right? Passion is a great thing, but action has to follow.
The dogs and cats have taught me a valuable lesson about people. We’re a good lot when we put our hearts and minds together, you know. So grateful for this opportunity.
Just one dog at a time.
Just one person at a time.