HAPPY NATIONAL PET DAY from your friends at ECPR!
I thought I’d take a few moments to celebrate National Pet Day by writing about my rescue pets and their stories. As the saying goes, “Rescue is the best breed” and I’ve found that to be entirely true! All animals are wonderful and completely deserving of love and the security of a forever home, but if you’ve ever adopted a rescue pet that has known rough times, the way they communicate their understanding and appreciation to you is touching beyond words.
When I first began working with Emerald City Pet Rescue two years ago, I had one pet. Lily is my heart and soul. I adopted her at ten months old and she has traveled with me, faithfully stayed by side during hard times, and enjoyed good times with me as well. Lily was my first dog as an adult (I’d had family dogs, and then cats as an adult previously) and I couldn’t have asked for a better dog. She’s more than a dog to me, she’s my best friend. When I adopted Lily, she was severely underweight and in need of a lot of nourishment. She’s the pickiest eater I’ve ever met (Justin who works for ECPR’s retail store says she’s the pickiest dog he has ever met as well!) and she has trouble gaining weight. She is small and delicate, long skinny legs, big giant loving eyes weighing in at just barely five pounds. I don’t know what her early puppyhood was like, but I do know that the moment I took her home, we were instantly bonded.
Lily went everywhere with me, and she still does! When I began working with Emerald City Pet Rescue, she came with me to the office daily and she was happy to curl up on a bed next to my computer. As long as she’s by my side, she’s content and happy. Some say she has separation anxiety when we are not together (okay, I admit it, it’s true!) but it’s also true that it goes both ways. We are simply happiest together, we ease each other’s anxiety, we know that we will always be there for each other. What more could anyone ask for in a best friend?
For the first time, I brought some kittens home to foster. They were about four weeks old, eating on their own mostly but still quite young and needing motherly care. A roommate I previously lived with had cats so I hoped Lily would be okay with kittens. As it turned out, she was more than okay. She was wonderful! Her patience with other animals is the most gracious thing I have ever seen. Lily had never been interested in playing before, I’m not even sure she knew how, but interacting with the kittens brought out a new side of her I hadn’t previously seen. I decided to keep one of the kittens, a fluffy grey little boy that I named Detective Elliot Stabler (after my favorite character from Law and Order : SVU) or “Eli” for short. Eli and Lily became great friends.
A few months later, another litter was in need of fostering. This litter was larger, a group of seven, younger (maybe 2 weeks), and very sickly. One kitten in particular pulled on my heartstrings from the very moment I met her. She was the size of a hamster, emaciated, and I was advised by a vet that she likely wouldn’t make it. Her face was sunken in, her eyes huge, almost deformed-looking due to how sick she was. Despite knowing I should try to be “realistic”, hearing this kitten’s prognosis only triggered my determination. I knew then and there that I was going to do everything in my power to save her. I had that kitten with me literally 24/7. I bottle-fed her raw goats milk every few hours around the clock, kept her wrapped in a tiny blanket and held against my skin. I constantly pet her tiny, delicate little body and spoke to her nonstop. I guess I hoped that if I kept her constantly stimulated, she wouldn’t have time to give up. Silly, maybe, and yet, it worked. She was staying alive! The concern, however, was that while her siblings were getting better, growing, and hitting their milestones, little Rue was the same size as she was when I first brought her home and about half the size of her siblings. Tests were conducted, blood was drawn, and thankfully it turned out she had a particularly stubborn parasite. New medication was given, and soon she began to grow! Still, she was behind on her development and when the other kittens were ready for adoption, Rue still needed more time. By the time she was ready, there was simply no way I could let her go. We were very bonded, I was her Mom. Now I had one dog, and two cats.
In early 2016, along came Scout, a tiny chihuahua puppy with very bowed legs. I fostered her at first, but of course, fell in love and I knew within a week that I was going to keep her. Scout thankfully grew out of her bowed leg problems and did not need medical attention for her legs. She is a year and a half now, and one of the lights of my life. She’s smart, she’s extremely friendly not only with me but with everyone she meets no matter what gender or age. She’s fearless, eager to jump at a Great Dane’s face trying to play even though that dog’s mouth may be bigger than her entire body. Scout has not known anything but love, and she gives nothing but love. She has a lot of personality, dancing on her back legs while flailing her front legs in the air to wave and get attention. I tease her and refer to her as “my little Praying Mantis” when she does this. Everyone she meets thinks she’s adorable and hilarious.
I told myself after I kept Scout that I was maxed out, I would still foster, but I would not adopt any more pets. Four was enough for me!
I went on to foster more kittens that were adopted into other families, and a few more dogs, and I thought I was doing well with willpower. Then, I met Delilah.
Delilah was a year and a half when she came to me, a 5lb Yorkie girl. What struck me about her instantly was her immediate bond with Scout. Scout is a fun-loving, energetic dog who LOVES to play, and although Lily is wonderful and so patient with every animal I bring home, she can’t quite match Scout’s energy. Scout and Delilah instantly began to play, and Lily, looking almost relieved, retreated to her favorite pillow where she could finally get some time to relax. I kept telling myself that I didn’t need another dog, but Scout insisted! I couldn’t deny Scout her best friend now could I?! Delilah became a part of our family.
Last, but certainly not least, came Peaches.
Emerald City Pet Rescue received a relinquishment of nearly 20 tiny chihuahuas. Fosters were needed, so I agreed to take two of them home with me. They were given their own room as I wasn’t sure how they would do with my other animals. Neither of the chihuahuas seemed like they’d met cats before, so they were very confused. “What are these things!?” Their faces asked. Fortunately, my cats are used to dogs coming and going, so they were not stressed or bothered by the new arrivals.
Within a few weeks, the dogs began to come out of their shells and show their personalities. Hannah, an adorable 4lb black and white chihuahua, was adopted, and I still had little Peaches. She “grew” on me, I guess you could say. In contrast to Scout and Delilah who are young with endless energy, Peaches is an older girl who loves to quietly snuggle, like Lily does, and who is completely content with a warm blanket and some pets. I noticed with her other friend gone now, she started clinging to Lily, cuddling with her, and being the “quiet” friend I know Lily deserved, even though she was always so wonderful and patient with the other animals. I was on the fence about keeping Peaches, however, because I knew I didn’t “need” more animals, but a co-worker admitted we were a great pair and I let her peer-pressure me into the adoption. I’m just teasing, I wanted Peaches, of course.
I have quite the full house, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My pets are my family, and the unconditional love, laughter, entertainment, and comfort they provide gives me hope and inspiration in an otherwise sometimes-difficult world.
Today is a day to celebrate all of the pets who enrich and improve our lives. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of a rescue that saves so many pets, and I’m thankful to have been able to save some of them myself. But the truth is, and I know a lot of “rescue pet parents” who feel this way – they saved me, as well.
HAPPY NATIONAL PET DAY!
Feel free to share YOUR pet’s stories in the comments below!