The Dumpster Dog Finds a Home

The Dumpster Dog Finds a Home

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

The Dumpster Dog Finds a Home

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; . . . for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; . . . and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.

Albert Schweitzer

It was a bitter cold winter day in Michigan when the call came from Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue (MWBTR). “Can you take a senior girl in bad shape?” Gwen, cofounder of MWBTR, asked. “She is a little old lady who is very nonthreatening, and I think she would get along with your dogs.” I said yes. It was the start of our journey with a small, sick, frail dog whom we named Lacey.

When I met her, I whispered the same thing to her that I have whispered to all the dogs we have fostered in our home. I hold them and tell them, “You are safe now; you have been rescued. No one will ever hurt you again.” It may sound strange, but I can tell that they understand. They breathe deeply and relax—some of them almost collapse. It never matters where they come from, whether I have picked them up on their last day of life at a shelter, or they come from an owner who no longer has a place for them. When I am handed a confused soul at the end of a leash, my response is always the same: I give them a little piece of my heart, and they begin to heal.

Lacey’s story had a sad start. Shewas found one February day, half dead, in a Dumpster by the local animal control. They decided that she was unadoptable—too sick and too old. A volunteer from another rescue group happened to visit the shelter a few days later. Although she didn’t usually go there, the volunteer asked to go to the back area— where the unadoptable dogs are housed. She asked about the frail little Boston terrier and was told Lacey would be euthanized. The kindhearted volunteer said, “Oh, no, I will take her. I know someone who has a place for her.” She called MWBTR and with that call set Lacey back on the road to life.

Lacey was taken to the vet, who said that her blood levels were dangerously off, she was malnourished and most of her teeth were decayed. She weighed barely thirteen pounds. Her coat was very thin, and it was painfully obvious that she had produced many litters of puppies. She had to be placed on antibiotics for several weeks until she was well enough to stand surgery.

Lacey came to our chaotic household to regain her strength before her surgery. The little dog had very nice manners and was completely housebroken. At first, all she did was sleep. When she was strong enough, her surgery was performed. All her teeth, except her four canines, had to be extracted. She was spayed and given all of her shots—this is done for most rescue dogs because, unfortunately, there is no record of prior health care. And although she had worms, thankfully, she tested negative for heartworm. For several months, Lacey rested, healing her body and her spirit. It was interesting to watch our other dogs take care of her. Our pack can be a rowdy bunch, but with Lacey, they were as gentle as if she were a child.

That spring, a six-month-old large male boxer was turned into Mid Michigan Boxer Rescue, and he stayed with us for about a week. By then Lacey’s health had improved greatly. She had gained weight, her coat shined and she danced with newfound energy. I have a wonderful photo of our old girl in bed, sitting with the young boxer pup. The old and the young—two lives saved.

When a rescue dog comes to our house, we make the same commitment to each one: You have a home here for as long as it takes. You will always be safe, have food to eat and be loved.

Of course, in order to find her a permanent home, she was listed on www.petfinder.com, and on the MWBTR site for adoption. However, when time passed and no one seemed interested, it was okay with us. We thought no one would ever adopt a senior like Lacey, so she became part of our family. She asked for very little and gave us so many blessings in return.

Then, in early June, a call came from MWBTR. This time Gwen said, “I have a lady who is interested in your Lacey.” I was surprised, pleased and devastated all in an instant. It happens that way. When it is right and it is meant to be, somehow you know—but your heart breaks anyway. There is joy and sadness in one fell swoop.

All three of the rescue groups we belong to have similar procedures for adopting a dog. Foster parents always have final say in the adoption because the rescue group feels foster parents have come to know the dog best.

Carol, our Lacey’s prospective adopter, submitted an application. I called her veterinarian and her references. They were fabulous, which is not always the case. Then a home check was completed. Carol passed with flying colors. As much as I wanted this home for Lacey, she still needed to meet Carol to see if they were a good match.

Two weeks later Carol and a friend traveled to Michigan from Wisconsin to meet Lacey. It was love at first sight. Carol and her friend pulled out of our driveway with Lacey, her special bed and food in the car, and headed for home.

That’s when it hit me. I had been holding it together, and then I realized just how far away Wisconsin was. The bittersweet tears came. For days all our dogs looked for Lacey, and I asked myself for the thousandth time, Why do I do this?

Then a call came from Carol. Her voice was filled with joy as she told us: Lacey loves her new Boston terrier sister Suzie Q and has adopted the two-year-old special-needs kitty as her own, along with two other cat siblings. She goes for walks to the Dairy Queen to get free doggy ice-cream cones. Carol said that Lacey had also just become part of a new program where dogs visit HIV patients.

Lacey, the Dumpster dog who should have died in the back of a cold animal shelter, was home. This, I reminded myself, is why we go through it—because when they leave us, their broken hearts have healed forever.

Debra Jean-MacKenzie Szot

[EDITORS’ NOTE: Carol, Lacey’s owner, read this story and sent Debra the following: Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your story! I get so wrapped up in what Lacey means to me and to her friends here that I forget she ever lived anywhere else. It amazes me that an animal so ill used for most of her life has nothing but love and concern for everyone around her.

I took Suzie and Lacey to the HIV hospice the other day. Suzie has been there before, and she entered the common room and started to make the rounds. Lacey stopped directly inside the front door and began walking in circles. Finally, she walked across the hall and sat down by a closed door. Both Sister Marion and I tried to convince her to move but she refused. She lay down and began to softly cry. Sister explained to me that the resident in this room was nineteen years old and had taken a turn for the worse early that morning. The family had been called, but they were several miles away and were still en route. By now Lacey was really distressed and began pawing at the door. Since this patient had reacted positively in the past to Suzie, we decided to open the door and let Lacey go in. Deb, it was the most incredible thing I have ever seen in my life. Lacey went straight to the bed and jumped up on the chair next to it. She wiggled her head and front paws through the side rails so she could touch the patient’s arm, and she stayed there! The patient became less restless. When the family arrived thirty minutes later, Lacey jumped down from her perch and left the room. She went back to the front door, sat on the rug and promptly fell asleep as though exhausted. The power of the human-animal bond never fails to amaze me. Carol]

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