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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peace and Hope

I deal with death on a regular basis. I have for a long time now. It was right before I began the shelter project that I ever saw a life end in front of me.. I was driving on a highway and saw a dog standing by its fallen friend along side the road. Of course I stopped. I walked over to the fallen dog and I put my hand on its side and I knew it was alive- but, only for a moment. I looked into its eyes- it looked back- wagged its tail and then left the world. Although it was so sad, I had a strange sense of peace in that I was able to be there for the poor little dog's last moment. Weeks later, I saw a horrific accident along the same stretch of highway. The man's car flipped and crashed into a tree right by the cabin I lived in. I saw the car fly through the air - the horrible sound.. and when I got the car I didn't know what to do- the mans car was a heap of twisted metal around a large tree and he was pinned. People stopped - we all stood along the highway calling 911 asking what to do.. what to do. A neighbor climbed into the mess and touched the young man and talked to him .. the rescue people arrived and worked to remove him from the car, I suddenly felt that same sense of peace that I had felt with the dog.. and then I looked around and saw the rescue people shaking their heads.. and I knew he was gone.

Matisse relaxing on the bed
I saw death again this last week. Matisse was my dog who had been with me for nearly half of my life. You know how once in a lifetime a dog comes along that is more than just a dog? That was Matisse. He had gotten to where he had more bad days than good... he was in pain so much.. he had recently started to forget who I was. When he forgot who I was that was the worst because he was suddenly scared of me. His whole life, he had been like a shadow to me. He was always by my side. It was when I had gone through cancer treatment that he started to go down hill.. the stronger I got- the worse he got... he had many things wrong with him .. yet nothing in particular that could be easily fixed. I feel like he gave me all of his energy so that I could get better-- and I had no way to give it back to help him get better. When the vet put the needle in his little leg I held his face and looked into his hazy eyes and told him he was a good dog- that he was loved. I brought him home and buried him under my oak tree... and once again, I felt that sense of peace when he was gone.

This is one of the hopeful ones that never made it out
When I go to the shelter, I know that most of the animals that I meet will die. I know that most of those that die will be 100% healthy when they go. There was no accident that they were a part of that takes their life.... and they die because they were discarded like garbage... they die because too many people will not step foot into a shelter and adopt- yet, those same people will shell out large sums of money to buy puppies from pet shops. When I meet the dogs that will die- I don't feel peace- I feel their pain, sadness, and fear. So many of my pictures are sad.. because that is what they tell me.. they tell me they are scared.. they tell me that they know they are in danger.. they are confused and betrayed.. and some tell me that they have given up. Some photos I capture the hope that some feel. When I follow the hopeful dogs and find out one of them has been killed- it hurts the worst. I feel like I might have been the last person that they pleaded with to help them.. and I always take it personally if they do not make it out alive.

Before Matisse died, I was invited to take photos as some dogs were brought into Ft. Myers by Pilots-N-Paws. It was great. I got to see dogs from MDAS arrive safely to go to rescue groups. I was able to take photos of dogs that were safe... I never get to do that. The faces I saw were not those of dogs who had given up and pleading for help- they were the faces of dogs who were on a journey.. they were the hopeful ones and this time I knew their hope was going to be met with a reality of a new chance on life.   It was beautiful really and it helped me remember that, although I meet so many that do not make it, I do meet many that will. I meet many dogs that due to the hard work of several people .. will survive.. they will live and they will not meet the end of a needle.. instead, they will meet a group who will take care of them.. put them safe in a foster home.. and finally a real home.

One of the many dogs going to safety with Florida Poodle Rescue- notice the large tumor on this poor girl. She is now cleaned up and getting the medical care, love, and care that she needs.

I deal with death on a regular basis, but I also deal with peace, hope, and life....I just need to remind myself of that sometimes.
Unloading the special cargo

You can learn more about the Pilots N Paws program and donate by going to their website

The Florida Poodle Rescue took most of the dogs that day and were the ones to invite me to take photos - please check out their website - they are an amazing organization!

Pilot Jeff Bennett bringing one of the passengers to the transport van


Mary Lupi said...

I've been in the rescue field since childhood and you have put into words what most of us rescue people have and will always feel. I can only hope through education of the public and constant pulling and adoption of the current available animals in shelters accross America we can end the fears of so many hopeless and loving animals that are Killed every year! Mary Lupi President Safe Haven Animal Rescue of Florida

Terrie Varnado said...

I, too, have been involved in animal rescue for years. We can only hope that people will stop back yard breeding and wake up and adopt the thousands being euthanized each day at the shelters.
Thank you Joani, of FL Poodle Rescue, and Jeff B. with Pilots N Paws. I have worked with both of you in the past and you are both angels!
Thank you Mary for the wonderful pictures!
Terrie Varnado
Animal Rescue Transport Coordinator

Anonymous said...

recently i passed a little raccoon on the highway. he was still alive, but could not walk. i didn't have anything in my car to safely get him to the side of the road, without getting bit; his face still haunts me. but it has always made me sad that all main roads are not fenced in, so that the animals are protected. humans do not care about animals the way we should. i do not eat meat because of the way animals are treated. i buy chicken for my dogs, but only cage free because i do not want an animal to suffer because of me. i only buy cage free eggs to for the same reason. animals are dearly loved by God, and need to be loved by us as well. some humans even kill their unborn children; it's all very sad.....

Tricia said...

As I have said before you are such a brave person for being able to do this for those who can not speak for themselves. I wish everyone was required to walk the halls of a shelter. As a person in rescue the faces in the shelters just plain hurt my soul. People forget they are God's creatures.
Tricia Bonati, Florida Poodle Rescue

Happy Camper said...

Hi Mary, first visit to yoru blog, I found you on the Delaware CAPA blogspot.
I am not certain what your stance is, and wheter you are in Tennessee or Florida..Not that it matters much these days, we all seem to find each other.
This appears to be a good transport and yet I am ( in all honesty ) against transporting animals. To many horror stories. So far, 90% of them true.
We recently have had a rescue bringing in dogs from LA, no vetting, no future and we are putting so many dogs down..who do these people feel they are helping? For a while NHS was importing Chi's from Vegas, now we have a shelter full of pits and Chi's. Don't transfer the problem, work on it. I know that people looking for a small dog are not going to adopt a pit, but I am talking space, air, meds, just take better care of what we have. Best use of resources will serve these animals. Like your Pic's and do a few of my own, If your drop by my blog your may see a couple you like..

Happy Camper said...

Just clicked on my handle and realize I am not public. The fanatics have caused many of us to do that. You can find me under Advice From Oreo We work for humane care in shelter, with the understanding that euthanasia is sometimes a part of that :( Sad but true....