November 25, 2011


Last week, I took a walk through the Roanoke pound to meet a few dogs on the list to be transferred to Angels of Assisi. As always, the RCACP staff was kind and courteous when I asked to see every dog in the building. There were the usual big and small canines, all jumping up at their kennel doors looking for attention. We set a pretty good pace up and down the aisles, patting pit bulls, smiling at howling hound dogs, and admiring shepherds. And then we came across Chrissy, by far the oldest dog in the facility.

Her gray face hit me first, then the slow arthritic rise to greet me. She did not get very far, and instead lay on the concrete floor trembling. I offered her a pat through the chain link door and went to move on to the next. My heart, however, had different plans, and dropped an anchor to the floor. I could not move. Her cage card read "owners moved to Florida".

I looked at Trish, and asked if we could transfer her immediately. Even though it was closing time, her face lit up and she hustled to get the paperwork ready. Forms were signed and Chrissy was gathered up. The RCACP staff waved goodbye, wished us well, and off we went to Angels of Assisi.

We had not planned on adding a dog to our already full adoption center that day. On the drive to 415 Campbell Avenue, I imagined how the scene would play out at Assisi upon our arrival...

I will walk in with this unexpected, senior dog, who will most likely need medical care of some sort, and launch immediately into her story: "Can you believe the owners moved and did not take their dog, blah blah blah... ! I could not leave her there, blah blah blah..." Deb will look at me and ask "what have you done, Lisa!" and then look at Chrissy and get all melty. Tammy will get misty eyed and nod her head up and down. Bobbie will take one look at her, give her a smooch, and get busy on intake, all the while talking a blue moon streak. Aaron, as usual, will be designated dog holder, empathizer, and listener- he is super good at that :). Jenny will say "Lisa-aaaaah!! Where are we going to pu-uuut this dog?!?" as I hold my hand up to her face and ignore her. Meanwhile, Zach will hustle to get a place ready for her, even though I gave him absolutely zero notice of a new dog in his kennel area (I'm working on that Zachary, promise). Dr. Spangler will get to work on listening to heart and lungs, dream about a day when we have more healthy and highly adoptable dogs in our own building, and then shrug and get back to taking extraordinary care of the newest one. And my partner in crime will give Chrissy her best smile, the one that lights up her eyes and shows off her dimples, be thankful, understanding, and offer any help that we need.

And that is exactly how it went down.

Fast forward to a text message sent to the most wonderful foster mom, Jane. "I have the oldest dog in the western hemisphere that needs a foster home" Jane's reply: " thought I was the oldest fart in the western hemisphere? No? At any rate, I'll pick her up in 2 days, send a crate. Can't wait to meet her".

The fact that Angels of Assisi has the staff, volunteers, and supporters that are willing and able to help dogs like Chrissy, is a fact not lost on me for one second. Seeing the daily struggles of fellow rescuers makes us all the more aware of how lucky we are. No matter what the age or condition of a pet that enters our facility is in, you all step up every time, and for that we are forever grateful.

Here is your latest rescue, an old gal who was ditched by her owners when they moved to Florida. But you know what? She's going to be just fine, and together so are we.

 Gratitude is the memory of the heart.  
~Jean Baptiste Massieu, translated from French

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