Why we do it
German Shepherd Rescue
Why Do we Do It?
The following was written by 12 year old Julia Rubin from North Potomac MD, about her recently adopted German Shepherd. Thanks for sending it, Julia
TRIBUTE TO TRIXI
by Julia Rubin
I had a nice home.
I had a nice yard.
I had some nice toys.
I had a nice family.
I thought they loved me, I thought they cared.
I thought for me they would always be there.
One day they moved, and sent me away.
And in my heart, I wanted to stay.
Locked up in a cage, that god-awful shelter,
I wished for a home…with a girl and a boy.
Then one day I found, I was to be put away.
I begged for a family…
I begged and I prayed.
Then POOF, right out of nowhere
a nice little lady who took me somewhere.
She took me away, from the barking and shouts,
to a place the angels must know about.
She gave me a treat, and she gave me friends.
I thought and I knew this love would never end.
Then some nice people, they did come along.
They wanted to adopt me for so very long.
I wagged my tail and greeted them with pleasure.
Such happiness my heart could not measure.
And one day I know, if they must move away,
they’ll keep me with them, forever to stay.
Tribute to Chance
Several years ago a trucker found an emaciated elderly German Shepherd running along the Interstate near Great Falls. He picked him up and brought him to the Animal Shelter here in Sheridan. The dog was so run down the shelter took him to a vet’s to be put down, but he was such a serene statesman of a dog the vet techs couldn’t bear to do it. Instead, they called me and I raced down to take him. “Chance”, I called him, from the merest chance he had for life. When I led him outside, he stopped and looked up at the sky, looked down at the green grass, looked all around, as if he had known his planned fate and thought never to see any of that again. As I drove him to the foster home he eagerly gazed at children playing, people walking, life going by. He had been so starved that we could trace every bone in his body, and food just went right through him. We had him for several weeks, long enough to get his digestive system working again and some padding on those old bare bones. Eventually, a good friend in Spokane, who was waiting for one of my puppies, saw him on this rescue page and called to say she would take him. It was love at first sight for Debbi, a tentative and slow love for Chance, and a few months later, a fantastic buddy relationship with the pup Kobi (Celhaus Faraoh) when he joined the household. Chance died last January from mesenteric torsion, perhaps induced by his previous starved condition. Debbi called, crying, to tell me, and told me to try to find her “another Chance”, another old GSD who had been discarded by his beloved people. Amazingly, two months later, I got a call from the Animal Shelter. A 7 year old German Shepherd, a loving serene boy named Chance, had been dumped by his owners who were moving to California and couldn’t bother to take him. I called Debi and sent her the photos, and she said she’d be here as soon as she could. “Chance”, now renamed “Chaucer” so as not to compete with the original Chance, now happily romps with Kobi and sleeps in Debbi’s daughter’s bedroom. Blessings upon you, Debbi, for giving joy at last to the two elderly German Shepherds, who were so bewildered and betrayed by the fickleness of their owners who should have cosseted them in their old age.
Have You Hugged Your Dog Today?
He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true,
to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
Unfortunately when you have a popular breed, you often have many who do not fit in with the families which acquire them, ending up abandoned at animal shelters or worse, euthanasia, when their owners tire of them. As a breeder of German shepherds, I do all I can to ensure that none of my puppies end up such a situation. And I also try to help needy German Shepherds find loving homes for the rest of their lives, where they are appreciated and treasured.
German Shepherds Must Have:
1. Exercise for their minds (some kind of training)
2. Exercise for their bodies–at least 30 minutes vigorous exercise daily on a schedule regular enough that they can depend on it
3. Sustained contact with their people, to whom they bond deeply and to whom they want to be close
This is an active, highly intelligent breed, bred to work, and many GSD’s have too much energy and ambition to fit well in relatively sedentary homes. Often people just don’t understand the German Shepherd’s need for mental and physical exercise. They find it too much work to take care of their dog’s need to have a “job” or purpose in life; they don’t keep their German Shepherd mentally active and learning. German Shepherds NEED to learn. They NEED a job; if not given one, they invent one (often one undesirable to people). They also NEED to spend most of their time with people. They don’t do well left out in the back yard, or even more devastating, tied.
The German Shepherd is the premier working dog in the world. Some breeds are specialist, starring in one type of work, but the GSD is a generalist, able to do a great variety of kinds of work well. German Shepherds serve as Search & Rescue dogs, herding dogs, police dogs, Service Dogs and drug dogs–all occupations requiring a great deal of energy and concentration. They excel in Schutzhund and tracking. They make great Therapy Dogs. The list is almost endless. They are NOT couch potatoes.
They also NEED at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, whether it be hiking, retrieving a ball, whatever. A sedate walk around the block on leash is not sufficient! Their exercise MUST be on a regular schedule. If they don’t have a regular schedule to look forward to, don’t find a regular outlet for all that energy and need to be busy, they will satisfy their longing by digging, barking, fence-running, etc. (I have a 30 minute play period with my GSD’s each morning before I go to work. I can get away with a shortened session occasionally if the weather is foul or I have to be at work unusually early, but it better not happen too often! I might come home to find hoses or the drip system chewed, or the yard rearranged.) I try to take them for hikes in the hills (summer) or in town (winter), and if weather forbids that, we play games or learn tricks.
Reasons GSD’s Find Themselves in Need of Rescue:
1. Bad habits resulting from frustrations when the above needs are not met.
2. Owners’ lack of knowledge of the breed: Maybe the owners didn’t do their homework before buying a GSD and weren’t expecting the constant light shedding plus the yearly Great Spring Shed that comes with these double-coated dogs (often called German Shedders by their loving owners). Or a family member turns out to be allergic to dog hair.
German Shepherd puppies are the cutest things imaginable, but they soon lose that puppy charm and become very large and busy. Perhaps the people didn’t realize that GSD males typically weigh 80 – 100 pounds while females tip the scales at 65 – 80. Both sexes are very strong and can be hard to handle if they haven’t been trained and/or taught manners, and expected to consistently do as told. Obedience classes should be a given for all GSD’s.
Or perhaps their genetic temperament is faulty and they are either too aggressive and “pushy”, or else fearful of much in life, sometimes to the point of developing separation anxiety or becoming fear-biters. Sometimes the problem is the high prey drive and energy level that makes them too much dog for the people to handle but would have made them superb working dogs, given a chance. Whatever the problem, too many owners in this throw-away society of ours just get rid of the dog, often for reasons which are not in any way the dog’s fault.
3. Changes in the family situation: divorce, family illness or death, job loss, a move to housing that doesn’t allow pets.
4. Abuse or neglect. God forbid, but it does happen all too frequently.
Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost, or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.
That’s when GSD Rescue comes into the picture.We do our best to give these nice dogs a chance to find a good “match” with people who will meet their needs and appreciate them for the magnificent dogs they are. Unfortunately, we are often overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of GSD’s needing good homes.
Usually I have no foster homes which can accept a needy dog and give it a home until a permanent home can be found for them. I have no way to keep a rescue separate from my breeding dogs, so I don’t bring them to my place. I take calls from people wanting to place their dogs, meet and evaluate the dog, then spread the word. Generally the dogs must stay in their homes until I can locate a suitable adopter (except in cases of abuse or neglect, when we find a safe place for them as soon as possible). I first urge people to contact the dog’s breeder to see if they will take it back. Many breeders do, and that should be the first call anyone with a problem dog should make.
Few people call asking for help finding a dog, but enough do to keep my hopes up. We definitely need more people willing to give a dog a second chance!! A rescued dog can be incredibly grateful to its new owners, and bond deeply because it appreciates FINALLY being loved and appreciated. We also need more people willing to foster a rescued dog and begin its rehabilitation.
We also need some way to educate people that a living animal is not something to throw away as you would an empty pop can. German Shepherds are legendary in their loyalty to their owners; somehow we need to help people realize that they are called to an equal devotion and loyalty to their dog. Few problems are unsolvable if a person is committed to both learning what he’s done wrong and changing his behaviors or expectations. A person who is unwilling to put effort into training and exercising his German Shepherd should get a different pet–perhaps a goldfish would be best!
He who is cruel to animals
becomes hard also in his dealings with man.
We can judge the heart of a man
by his treatment of animals.
People seldom realize that rescue workers are all volunteers and generally work a demanding full-time job. They want us to do something to solve their “crisis”, which usually has been building up for some time while they ignored it, until those little problems became major issues. DO SOMETHING if you begin to have problems with your German Shepherd. Contact a person who knows and loves this breed (many “dog trainers” do not like GSD’s and will be no help because of it). Resolve to get your dog into some good training classes, to begin regular exercise and to focus on good bonding time and activities. See if your dog’s breeder can help. If all these fail, contact one of us. But remember to give us time. Some larger metropolitan areas have rescue groups who can take dogs and foster them long enough to fix the problems. Many of us cannot. Even those larger groups are often overwhelmed by he numbers and have to give first change to dogs in danger of being killed.
I check my e-mail daily. If I do not answer you right away, I might be researching options for you. Or else my work schedule has me temporarily buried. But never fear, I will do my best to help you–whether it is to find your dog a loving home, or to help you find a new, loyal friend with which to spend your life.
And For All Selfless Volunteers…
When a person who has given tirelessly and made it their life’s work to save and succor abandoned animals and
find them happy homes comes to the bridge, first one animal will stop and look into the distance, then more and more will look up and watch. For this is a person all the animals know about. As they have waited for their loved one(s), they have told the story of their rescue from loneliness, neglect and impending death, and the wonderful people who helped them until a special loved one could be found. O special friend of animals, you have been spotted, and all the dogs and other animal friends will run over the fields to thank the person who has enabled so many to have had good lives and memories. Then, will they all walk to the gate of St. Peter and say, “This is a person whose name surely entered on the roll once for each of us whose life was changed.” Then those friends who will be forever together step forward, and to the sound of great rejoicing, cross the bridge together.
Animal Rescuer’s Creed
I’ll never bring about world peace. I won’t single handedly save the rain forest. I’m not a brain surgeon and I’ll never transplant an organ to save a life. I don’t have the ear of a powerful politician or world power. I can’t end world hunger. I’m not a celebrity, and God knows I’m not glamorous! I’m not looked up to by millions around the world. Very few people even recognize my name. I’ll never win the Nobel prize or end global warming. There are a lot of things that I’ll never do or become.
But today I helped place an animal!
It was a small, scared, bundle of flesh and fur that was dumped at a shelter, or on the streets by unfeeling people who didn’t care what happened to it, but yet who were responsible for it having existence in the first place.
I helped find it a loving home.
It now has contentment and an abundance of love. A warm place to sleep and plenty to eat. Two little girls have a warm and playful new friend who will give them unending affection and teach them about responsibility and love. A wife and mother has a new free spirit to cuddle, nurture and care for. A husband and father has a furry friend to sit in his lap at the end of a hard day of work and help him relax and enjoy life. And a sense of satisfaction, that when he is gone all day at work, that there is a gentle spirit in his home keeping watch over his family.
No, I’m not a rocket scientist. But today, I made a difference! And I’ll do it tomorrow, too, if given a chance.
by Grace Saalsaa (Written for those who foster)
Melissa sat on the floor, unable to sit straight and tall like her mother had always admonished her to do when she was a child. Today, it would be impossible. And tomorrow….it probably wouldn’t be possible then either.
Her mind was too busy thinking about the dog that lay across her lap. When he came to be with her, he had no name. She remembered that day very well.
The first sight of him was enough to break her heart into little pieces. The woman, who had taken this dog from the rough streets where he had lived, had tried to save him because she was unable to watch this young dog find his own food in a dumpster outside the crack house where he lived. Nobody cared that he was gone. His fur was very thick; so thick that she had to wiggle her fingers down to feel his bony body. And as she pulled her fingers away again, they were coated in old dirt. Black and white, he was supposed to be. But on that day he was beige and dust.
He sat in the back of her car panting continuously, ears laid outward for he had lost his courage and couldn’t keep them proud and tall. He sat motionless, waiting and limp. But the thing that was the most disturbing was
the look in his eyes. They were quiet eyes, sunken into his head – and they watched her. They were alive with thought. He was waiting for her to do something “to” him. Little did he know at the time that, instead, she would
“give” something to him. She gave him one of the little broken pieces of her heart. She reached out to stroke his head and he instinctively squinched his eyes shut and dropped his head, waiting for the heavy hand. With that little bit of movement she gave him another one of the broken pieces of her heart.
She took him home and gave him a bath. She toweled him dry and brushed some order back into his coat. For that, he was grateful and even though his own heart was loaded with worms, he accepted yet another piece of her heart, for it would help to heal his own. “Would you like some water, big boy?” She whispered to him as she set down a large bowl of cold well water. He drank it up happily. He had been dehydrated for a long time and she knew it would take him most of the week to re-hydrate. He wanted more water – but it was gone. Ah…that’s how it is, he thought to himself.
But he was grateful for what he had been able to get. “Would you like some more?” and she gave him another bowl along with another little piece of her heart. “I know that you are hungry. You don’t have to find your own food anymore. Here’s a big bowl of good food for you. I’ve added some warm water and a little piece of my heart.”
Over the four months that he stayed with her, his health improved. The heart full of worms was replaced piece by piece with little bits of her loving heart. And each little piece worked a very special kind of magic. When the
warmth of love and gentle caresses are added, the little broken pieces knit together again and heal the container it resides in. That container becomes whole again. She watched each little broken piece fill a gap in the gentle
dog until his quiet eyes radiated the light from the little pieces. You see, kind words gently spoken turn the little pieces into illumination for the spirit that resides within. He rested beside her, happy to be with her always. Never had he known such kindness, such gentle caresses; such love. His health had returned, his spirit was playful as a young dog’s should be and he had learned about love. Now his heart was full. The healing was complete. It was time to go. There was another person who had another heart that was meant to be shared with him. So she sat shapeless on the floor because all the broken pieces of her heart were with the dog. It is difficult to sit tall when your heart is not with you. She wrapped her arms around the dog that sat with tall, proud ears for her. Lean on me, he said. And she gave him one last thing that would keep him strong; that would keep the pieces of her heart together long after he had gone on to live his new life. She gave him her tears and bound them to the pieces with a simple statement made from the ribbons of her heart. “I love you, Joe.” And Joe lived happily ever after.
Melissa sat on the floor, straight and tall like her mother had always admonished her to do when she was a child. Today, it would be possible. And tomorrow….it probably would be possible too. Because her mind was busy thinking about this, the next dog that lay across her lap. Where did she get the heart to help yet another dog, you ask? Ahhh….it came with the dog. They always bring a little bit of heart with them. And when the rescuer breathes in that little bit of heart, it quickly grows and fills the void left by the last dog.
Here are some excellent GSD rescue links:
See especially: "Frequently Asked Questions" "Is the GSD Right for You?" "Books to Read" "Buying a GSD Puppy"
Houston GSD Rescue (includes great list of GSD rescue groups)
by Evelyn Colbath
Now that I’m home, bathed, settled and fed,
All nicely tucked in my warm new bed.
I’d like to open my baggage
Lest I forget,
There is so much to carry –
So much to regret.
Hmm . . . Yes, there it is, right on the top
Let’s unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my leash hides Fear and Shame.
As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave –
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.
I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn’t good enough – for they didn’t want me.
Will you add to my baggage:
Will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things –
And take me right back?
Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage,
To never repack?
I pray that you do – I’m so tired you see,
But I do come with baggage –
Will you still want me?
‘Tis The Night Before Christmas
‘Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town,
ever shelter is full – we are lost but not found.
Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare,
we hope every minute that someone will care.
They’ll come to adopt us and give us the call,
“Come here, Max and Sparkie – come fetch your new ball!”
But now we sit here and think of the days …..
we were treated so fondly – we had baby ways.
Once we were little, then we grew and we grew -
now we’re no longer young and we’re no longer new.
So out the back door we were thrown like trash,
they reacted so quickly – why were they so rash?
We “jump on the children”, “don’t come when they call”,
We “bark when they leave us,” “climb over the wall.”
We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed,
now we suffer the consequence of the error they made.
If only they’d trained us, if only we knew…..
We’d have done what they asked us and worshiped them too.
We were left in the backyard, or worse – left to roam….
now we’re tired and lonely and out of a home.
They dropped us off here and they kissed us good-bye….
“Maybe someone else will give you a try.”
So now here we are, all confused and alone…..
in a shelter with others who long for a home.
The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat,
with so many to care for, they can’t stay to chat.
They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer….
We know that they wonder how long we’ll be here.
We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads….
of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.
Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears -
our friends filled with emptiness, worry and fear.
If you can’t adopt us and there’s no room at your inn -
could you help us with the bills and fill our food bin?
We count on your kindness each day of the year -
can you give more than hope to everyone here?
Please make a donation to pay for the heat…..
and help us get something special to eat.
The shelter that cares for us wants us to live,
and more of us will, if more people give.
How Could You?
When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” – but then you’d relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.
My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs,” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.”
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch – because your touch was now so infrequent – and I would have defended them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.
Now you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.
After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you – that you had changed your mind – that this was all a bad dream…or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself – a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.
May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
I Found Your Dog Today
I found your dog today. No, he has not been adopted by anyone. Most of us who live out here own as many dogs as we want, those who do not own dogs do so because they choose not to. I know you hoped he would find a good home when you left him out here, but he did not. When I first saw him he was miles from the nearest house and he was alone, thirsty, thin and limping from a burr in his paw.
How I wish I could have been you as I stood before him. To see his tail wag and his eyes brighten as he bounded into your arms, knowing you would find him, knowing you had not forgotten him. To see the forgiveness in his eyes for the suffering and pain he had known in his never-ending quest to find you … but I was not you. And despite all my persuasion, his eyes see a stranger. he would not come.
He turned and continued his journey; one he was sure would bring him to you. He does not understand you are not looking for him. He only knows you are not there, he only knows he must find you. This is more important than food or water or the stranger who can give him these things.
Persuasion and pursuit seemed futile; I did not even know his name. I drove home, filled a bucket with water and a bowl with food, and returned to where we had met. I could see no sign of him, but I left my offering under the tree where he had sought shelter from the sun and a chance to rest. You see, he is not of the desert. When you domesticated him, you took away any instinct of survival out here. His purpose demands that he travel during the day. He doesn’t know that the sun and heat will claim his life. He only knows that he has to find you.
I waited, hoping he would return to the tree; hoping my gift would build an element of trust so I might bring him home, remove the burr from his paw, give him a cool place to lie, and help him understand that the part of his life with you is now over. He did not return that morning and at dusk the water and food were still there untouched. And I worried. You must understand that many people would not offer to help your dog. Some would run him off, others would call the county and the fate you thought you saved him from would be preempted by his suffering for days without food and water.
I returned again before dark. I did not see him. I went again early the next morning only to find the food and water still untouched. If only you were here to call his name. Your voice is so familiar to him. I began pursuit in the direction he had taken yesterday, doubt overshadowing my hope of finding him. His search for you was desperate, it could take him many miles in 24 hours.
It is hours later and a good distance from where we first met, but I have found your dog. His thirst has stopped, it is no longer a torment to him. His hunger has disappeared, h no longer aches. The burrs in his paws bother him no more. Your dog has been set free from his burdens, you see, your dog has died.
I kneel next to him and I curse you for not being here yesterday so I could see the glow, if just for a moment, in those now vacant eyes. I pray that his journey has taken him to that place I think you hoped he would find. If only you knew what he went through to reach it … and I agonize, for I know, that were he to awaken at this moment, and (if) I were to be you, his eyes would sparkle with recognition and his tail would wag with forgiveness.
Rescues & Rescuers Enter Heaven
Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gatherat the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.
It wasn’t long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often. He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness. Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again. As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge. With no place else to turn to, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly and infirm. They weren’t playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting.
One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn’t understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for a while to explain it to him.
“You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge.”
The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, “So what will happen now?” As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life.
“Watch, and see.”, said the second animal. A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed him towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.
“That was a rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of his work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn’t place on earth across The Rainbow Bridge.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal.
And I was angry.
“God,” I said, “this is terrible! Why don’t you do something?”
God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly.
“I have done something,” He replied.
“I created You.”
by Shannon Greenlaw, age 12
I walk the streets,
nowhere to turn,
my stomach is empty but my mind is full,
I am cold and tired,
I just want to sleep,
but I am lost,
Looking for somewhere to go,
somewhere to be,
a family that loves me,
I dream of a place,
not far from here,
a warm bed by the fire,
a full stomach,
a moistened throat,
and a gentle scratching on my ear,
a family of four,
calling me to them,
oh how I wish I was there,
But instead I am nowhere,
I am lost,
it is cold,
all I hear are the cars passing by,
the highway is full,
no one stops for me to pass,
I can not get through,
or else I might not make it to the other side,
but that might be better,
don’t you think?
No, I just have to try, just one more time,
to find the family I see in my head,
I have to try,
I fall asleep beside the road,
worried and scared,
I wake up in the morning,
the cars have lessened,
I take my journey,
my stomach hurts,
my paws are sore,
but I just have to try,
just one more,
I run over hills,
I swim through lakes,
I see a house,
A family of four,
At last, I am lost no more!
I scratch on the door,
someone is home,
the children feed me a meaty bone,
They named me Miracle,
I sleep in a bed,
warm by the fire,
with my stomach full,
my throat now moistened,
And I am relaxed by the gentle scratching on my ear.