Sunday, September 12, 2010

Washing away despair

Seven dogs were lined up in crates on the porch, all of them looking a little scared and a little hopeful we might pet them. The largest was a huge black Newfoundland, and the smallest were two pups a few months old. They all needed brushing, baths, medicine, ear cleaning, and toenail clipping.  They had all just been pulled from area rescues, all slated to die, and all reprieved by Hollow Creek Farm.

Fortunately for HCF, this time they had some help. Four volunteers tackled the job that HCF often does alone, and it still took 2 hours. We discovered the Newfie, with some areas of hair so matted that we had to cut them off, knew how to shake. He good naturedly sat as we tugged, and combed and pulled through massive matts that had probably never seen a brush, and then Alex, the child volunteer, said, "Shake."

The sweet giant dog lifted his massive paw and laid it gently on Alex's lap. Either the polite greeting "Shake" resides deep in dogs' DNA, or someone had taught this matted, unbrushed, skinny, and homeless dog to shake paws. They had neglected details like feeding, brushing, or neutering him, but he knew how to greet the human world genteelly.

  None of the dogs acted like they had ever had a bath, but the sparkling and beautiful fluffy creatures that emerged sweet smelling when we were all done strutted a little more proudly on the end of the leash. They get their pictures taken tomorrow, and when HCF has had time to make sure any issues that need resolving are resolved, their pictures will be posted on hollowcreekfarm.org and they will wait for a family to love.

They will share the living room couch with the dog that HCF hopes to bring home from the shelter next. A dog with no eyes.
"I mean, why not?" she asks me, "I don't have a dog with no eyes yet!" 
That dog is not likely to be adopted. It will share the home with the other dogs no one wants that found safe landing at Hollow Creek.  But the seven freshly scrubbed creatures now resting are hopeful. Surely someone will want a giant dog who lifts a paw with the gentleness of a cloud to shake hands with his new friends?

There are always a thousand reasons not to go volunteer or not to send money. And then when I get there and greet those animals who have chosen to reside peacefully with humanity for thousands of years, and so often abandoned and misused.....

"Where have you been? " asked Walter, the big mixed breed with the cerebellar anomaly that makes him wobble and crash into my legs as he enthusiastically says hello. His head shakes like a bobble-head doll, and he slathers me with kisses of infinite forgiveness.

Zephaniah 3:
19 At that time I will deal
       with all who oppressed you;
       I will rescue the lame
       and gather those who have been scattered.
       I will give them praise and honor
       in every land where they were put to shame.  20 At that time I will gather you;
       at that time I will bring you home.
       I will give you honor and praise
       among all the peoples of the earth
       when I restore your fortunes 
       before your very eyes,"
       says the LORD.

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