There are lots of sad moments when you work in animal rescue.
There are the ones that are past help of any kind and all you can do is offer them a dignified death. All of that hurts your soul.
But, what keeps you going, what feeds your soul and warms it, is that one moment when a shelter dog realizes that its fate has changed for the better.
It is sad to have to say goodbye to the sweet dogs or cats that have been with you a while and you’ve gotten attached to each other. But, knowing what good things lie ahead for them is enough to make you smile through the tears.
That’s the way it was one day for the volunteers at the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby (HSM&S) recently. When a very special dog they had named “Drove” woke up that morning, it was a day like any other.
He was already a lucky shelter dog, because his shelter didn’t euthanize every animal not adopted within a certain number of days. Through no fault of his own, Drove had already been at the shelter for six months.
He was also lucky that his shelter provided a few creature comforts for their residents. Most shelters are doing good to be able to provide food, water and a roof.
Drove had become a favorite of everyone at the shelter. Time after time he was suggested to a potential home before anyone else was mentioned, because everyone at the shelter wanted Drove to have the life he deserved.
“One of my favorite things about him is how, if you’re sitting there petting him and you stop, he’ll nudge your hand to get you to keep petting him,” Katie Pemberton, marketing and communications manager at the HSM&S told The Dodo. “He was definitely a favorite around here, and everyone knew him as a really easy, laid-back dog. Very gentle and sweet.”
Drove had his own cushion in his own run. And he was curled up on it asleep when a volunteer came in to tell him to put his best foot forward because he had a chance at adoption.
Drove had heard that before. The shelter had focused on getting Drove adopted because he was such a special, loving guy, but despite their efforts no one had followed through.
Still, his tail wagged when he went out the door dividing the shelter runs from the lobby. And this time, the couple sitting there immediately fell in love.
You could see the glow coming back to Drove’s eyes. You could feel his heart beat faster. This time, knew…was different.
It was a lovely day in April when Morgan Hoog and her husband, Tyler, turned up at the shelter. They had recently been married, and were ready to start their family. Morgan’s 13-year-old dog had passed away shortly before their wedding. Her life, although happy with Tyler, was still needing the presence of a dog to make it perfect.
“We were explaining to the front desk that we wanted a dog that would be our best friend and hang out with us all the time,” Morgan told The Dodo. “We wanted a sweet dog that could be around children. All the humane society employees said that we needed Drove.”
Once their eyes met Drove’s, they knew immediately that the workers had been right. Morgan knew the same way that she had known about Tyler. She and Drove were meant to be together.
They couldn’t take him with them that day though. To avoid impulse adoptions and to give the shelter time to check out their references, the shelter has a waiting period in place for adoption. So, they had to wait to take him home.
The light dimmed in his eyes a bit when he was led back to his run and his cushion.But, with a resigned sigh he curled up for a nap.
A few days later, he was taking another nap (there’s really very little else to do when you’re in a tiny area with no toys or other dogs to play with and no room to romp and play) when his favorite shelter worker, Catey, woke him up to tell him someone was there to see him.
Drove followed her obediently to the lobby. When he suddenly realized that someone was waiting to see him that he recognized his joy was obvious. And it was contagious. Everyone was smiling.
Morgan and Tyler’s joy was even greater than Drove’s. “When I received the call that we could adopt him, I was so happy I was holding back tears,” Morgan said.
After signing a few papers, they could take Drove home. When they walked out the door and into the open air, Drove sighed a huge sigh of relief.
He had a family again! And this time, everyone was sure that there would be nothing but blue skies, hugs and lots of belly rubs in his future.
“We wanted a dog that had previously had a hard life, because we wanted to shower the dog with love,” she said. And Drove is certainly reaping the benefits of that desire.
He’s adapting well to home life, Morgan tell us. While timid at first, he took only hours to warm up to his new situation.
His name is now Sammy, and he is adjusting beautifully to being a family dog. He bonded almost immediately with Morgan and Tyler and they can’t imagine life without him.
“Since the first night we brought him home, he hates to leave our side,” Morgan said. “If my husband or I get up to grab some water, or leave the room for a second, he follows us to make sure we are not leaving.”
He need not worry about that. His warm sunny personality and devotion to the two makes it a definite that no matter what happens in the years ahead, the three of them will be facing it together.
As it should be.