Jan. 30, 2020

ONE PERSON CAN "MAKE A DIFFERENCE."

In late November, 2019,I read a quick message on NEXT DOOR--a site I seldom visit-- about a “precious little dog”—a stray with a beautiful face—spotted near the CHI Senior Center on Highway 7.  I no longer question why a particular photo, article, or concern becomes my "assignment" and I'm driven to absorb every detail---with strong resolve.

Within thirty minutes, I found myself in the Senior Center parking lot (a place I’d never been), searching for the homeless dog. I was immediately concerned that Highway 7---with its constant parade of log trucks, school buses, trailer-tractors, and speeding cars---- was only a few feet away. I didn’t see the dog that afternoon but the next morning, I spotted her just a few buildings away from the Senior Center.   Although she was extremely-wary of me, a stranger, she quickly devoured the food and water I placed in front of her.

Everyone and everything needs a name; something to serve as a personal identifier.  Regardless of whether you’re naming a baby or a puppy, you keep repeating its new name over and over and soon…the baby or puppy responds when it hears the familiar sound of a the familiar word.  It doesn’t take long for the “new name” to create a  response.

I looked at my new doggie friend and heard myself speak the name: Bella Boo…over and over again.  Two days later, when I couldn’t find her, I called her name—BELLA BOO—and almost immediately my little doggie friend appeared in front of me.

But, Bella Boo wouldn’t let me touch her.  She stayed approximately 3 feet away from me at all times.  She would only eat when I started walking away from the food to get in my car. I longed to pet her; to hold her; to let her know she was safe with me but-- I must be patient.  For nearly 10 weeks I fed and watered Bella Boo twice-a-day, every day. I found blankets and comforters to make her a bed under the eaves of one building’s open porch. Day after day, the weather was rainy, freezing cold, and the wind…constantly fierce….but we’d meet each other every morning and every afternoon for a brief exchange. Frustrated,  I watched two large dogs shadow her for days, realizing she was most-certainly “in heat”.

I was desperate to catch Bella Boo-- to give her a “shelter from the storm”.  More than a few times I watched her cross the highway…and barely make it.  Unable to coax her into my car, I called the County Animal Control Services and County Humane Society.  I learned Animal Control was a “kill” shelter that stayed over-crowded. It was clear the County's only Animal Service  screened their many calls for help.  They were  open for half-a-day, and rescued animals based on available space.  

I learned the Humane Society mission didn't include  the rescue of animals.  Instead, they were trained to care for the many animals who were delivered to their door.

One Thursday afternoon several weeks ago…I observed that Bella Boo’s food from her morning feeding was uneaten.  I added fresh food to her existing food and left.  Later that night, troubled and unable to sleep, I took my large flashlight and returned to her “hangout”.  Along the way, I searched the highway, the sides of the road, fearing I might find her there.  Nothing is spookier than an empty parking lot…in the country,  after dark...surrounded by old, empty buildings…and not one street light for miles. I drove around---my windows down-- shining my small light and calling her name.  I noted her food hadn’t been touched for more than 24 hours. Bella Boo was nowhere to be found.

The next morning I arrived at the parking lot at the usual time, hoping to see my doggie friend but instead, I found a handwritten note lying beside her food bowls: “Bella Boo was caught by Garland County Animal Services Wednesday Afternoon.”   I immediately contacted Animal Services. Seven days passed before I was able to see my doggie-friend. 

 After more than 9 weeks of caring for my homeless friend, Bella Boo, I missed her.  I took some of her favorite snacks, dropped them in her cage, and watched her eat as if she was starving. The way she looked in my eyes… I never doubted she knew me; she knew I loved her.

Before leaving, I spoke with the Animal Services Director and was shocked to learn that, due to Bella Boo’s pregnancy and the shelter’s overcrowding, Bella Boo was scheduled to be euthanized Friday--which was the next day!

Moving quickly, I went directly to Garland County's Humane Society with a plan. After discussing my proposal with Board Members--by phone--the Society's Director said everyone agreed.  Although The Humane Society was filled to capacity—after hearing Bella Boo’s story---they simply couldn't say "no". 

THE HUMANE SOCIETY AGREED to move Bella Boo to their facilities.  They promised to care for Bella and her soon-to-arrive puppies until FOREVER HOMES could be found for all.

FRIDAY Morning,after paying Bella Boo's adoption fee, I became her official owner. Within minutes, she was on-her-way to a new home at Garland County Humane Society.  Later that afternoon, The Humane Society's director called to update me, saying:  “Bella Boo is now snuggled among the familiar blankets you provided for her.  She's a happy baby.”

A few days after Bella Boo settled into her new surroundings, I went to see her. Just one look told me Bella was satisfied to be in a safe, warm, and loving environment.  I was surprised when she let me pet her, rub her, and show how-much I love her. At last, she trusts me. Something tells me that Bella Boo knows I was the one…who arranged her rescue.

I stayed with her until feeding time.  I told her I’d come back soon.  Leaving the society’s front door, I walked past the building's only window. Standing in the window, watching me leave, was Bella Boo. I could no-longer hold back my tears.

My innocent young doggie friend, the one I named Bella Boo, has never known an easy life.  Born near Highway 7, Bella spent her days dodging trucks, cars, and motorcycles in search of food, a home, and love.

IF I had money for a fence, for regular medical care, for additional food, I wouldn’t hesitate to add Bella Boo to my family but, sadly, I recognize my limitations. Yet limited resources didn't stop me from getting her off the highway or finding her a better life or giving her the opportunity for a Forever Home.

Now, for the first time since meeting Bella-- more than nine weeks ago--  she’s safe.  For the first time in her young life, she has hope and a future.

 Every day, I’m reminded that DOG spelled backwards, reads GOD.  Like God…dogs love us freely.  And, like God, they  ask only one thing of us: that we love them...in return.