I was feeling pretty down today. Too many homeless dogs, not enough people interested in them. But why? I kept asking myself. Why? Why? Why? This one loves balls, this one likes to snuggle, this one is the friendliest dog I have ever met, this one loves to play Frisbee, this one loves to learn new tricks, this one kisses children right on the face. Why? Panzer and Shelby wouldn’t stand a chance in a shelter, but I love them like crazy. Surely, someone, somewhere, must want to love these dogs, right?
As I was driving home, I started to tear up. I turned up the radio and tried not to think about it. I called my dad and he helped talk me through some of it, but only some. I went to the grocery store, numb, I picked up what I was going there for, having memorized the aisles long ago. I paid, walked to my car, checked Facebook, more dogs soon to be dead, put my foot on the clutch, turned on my car, sighed, slammed my car into first gear, peeled out of the parking lot, listening to the tires squeal. I need new ones. More money, more effort, more drama.
I pulled in the driveway and turned off my car. Then something miraculous happened. I looked out the passenger window and there was Panzer, smiling his big, toothy grin, his pink tongue lolling out, his brown eyes barely visible through the smudges on the windows (I’m sorry, his “window art”). In my mind, I could see his tail wagging. He was so happy that I was home. What a beautiful, simple thing.
When I got home, he leaned into my knees, pressing his head up against me in the way only he knows how. Shelby jumped enthusiastically next to us, whining and not so patiently waiting her turn. I set down the groceries, grabbed Panzer’s ball and left my phone and laptop and everything inside.
Panzer and I played ball until the sun started to set. I took photos of him and laughed and chased him and let him chase me. I rolled on the grass with him. I smiled and laid down and watched the sky while he chewed his ball next to me.
I spread my arms out wide and called him to me, and he fell into my chest and slammed his head upwards to my chin, knocking my camera to the side.
I saved him.
We all want to save them all. We do, we truly, truly do, and it hurts us when we can’t. And we cry and we scream and we beg and plead and bargain and go through all the stages of grief over and over. But at the end of the day, we have saved some. Our homes are filled with the cast outs, the throw aways, the nothings, the garbage, and they are the best things that have ever happened to us. They are precious, and we saved them. That makes our success rate 100%.