“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.