Justice for Justice

She spent her life in an outdoor yard. So terrified of indoor enclosures was she that she broke through a window to avoid being confined.

Emaciated. Sick. She had to fight to protect what little food scraps she was given. A Great Pyrenees mix weighing in at only 58 pounds.

Her mouth partly paralyzed; who knows how many litters of puppies she had produced and what damage that had inflicted.

Used up, she was dumped. Two others were “coincidentally” found not far away; we suspect they were her offspring. Younger, they were spared from years of similar harsh treatment. The shelter staff named her Justice.

While the instinct was to surround her with love, she first had to be quarantined to ensure the safety of others. And then, the work of restoring her sense of self, safety, and trust would begin. Inside, was a surprisingly resilient and social girl.

That human beings can treat helpless animals with such callous disregard is a reminder of our capacity for evil.

That human beings can dedicate their lives and hearts to helping those abused and neglected find a path to a new and better life is a reminder of our potential for good.

We have seen both in the ways that humans treat each other these past weeks.

Justice would be to steal the freedom and dignity of her abusers as they stole hers. That is unlikely to happen. But renewal is found with the family who took her home today. With a huge yard where she can make herself at home, walks in the woods, and time at a family cabin and beach – Justice will be eased into the life of a loved family dog.

Today, the world was made right for Justice.

What Rescue Is

“Hi. We are interested in rescuing a Golden Retriever. Any suggestions?”

I have to bite my tongue when I get these messages. What this well-intentioned person means is that they want to adopt a rescued dog. Hurrah for them! The world needs more good people willing to give an abandoned, surrendered or rescued dog a home. They are a critical part of the effort. Rescue does not work without them. So I keep my thoughts to myself – except here, of course.

There’s a saying that rescue is not a verb; it’s a promise. I have quoted it. But the truth is that rescue is both a verb and a promise.

Rescue is the person who waits three days in a field for a dumped dog that she does not know and is twice her size to come close enough to leash. That dog needs to feel her intention and trust. It’s a risky leap of faith for both.

Rescue is the man who sees two chained dogs in the freezing mud of winter without shelter or clean water and knocks on the person’s door to persuade them to surrender the dogs ensuring that they both have a real chance at life.

Rescue is the person who convinces an addict who cannot help himself to allow help for his dog before it falls prey to the threats and ill intentions of others.

Rescue is the people who walk into a shelter to bring dogs to safety knowing they can’t save them all.

Rescue is the people who report the horrors of puppy mills, hoarding, abused animals, and overseas dog meat markets – and those that follow to shut them down and bring the animals to safety. What they witness can never be forgotten.

Rescue is the heartbreak of losing a hard-fought battle and coming back again – because you have to try.

Rescue is the people who show up without pay to transport, feed, bathe, heal, comfort, care for and help prepare a dog for the family interested in adopting a rescued dog.

And rescue IS the adopter who brings home a rescued dog that others have passed over time and again because they are too old or too sick or too much of a special need.

Like the woman who took home 13-year-old Holmes this weekend (right) because she learned he had been waiting since February. He was not the dog she came looking for, but he was the dog she felt needed her most.

Rescue is hard work. It is sometimes heartbreaking. It changes you. And it could not be more rewarding.

Rescue is a verb. And a promise.