A dog sits waiting
By Kathy Flood


A dog sits waiting in the cold autumn sun,
Too faithful to leave,  too frightened to run.

He's been here for days now with nothing to do
But sit by the road,  waiting for you.

He can't understand why you left him that day
He thought you and he were stopping to play.

He's sure you'll come back, and that's why he stays 
How long will he suffer:  How many more days?
 
His legs have grown weak, his throat's parched and dry 
He's sick now from hunger and falls with a sigh.

He lays down his head and closes his eyes
I wish you could see how a waiting dog dies.


TRAYS POEM
by Leslie Whalen


One by One, they pass by my cage,
Too old, too worn, too broken, no way.
Way past his time, he can't run and play.
Then they shake their heads slowly and go on their way.

A little old man, arthritic and sore,
It seems I am not wanted anymore.
I once had a home, I once had a bed,
A place that was warm, and where I was fed.

Now my muzzle is grey, and my eyes slowly fail. Who wants a dog so old and so frail? My family decided I didn't belong, I got in their way, my attitude was wrong.

Whatever excuse they made in their head,
Can't justify how they left me for dead.
Now I sit in this cage, where day after day,
The younger dogs get adopted away.

When I had almost come to the end of my rope, You saw my face, and I finally had hope. You saw thru the grey, and the legs bent with age, And felt I still had life beyond this cage.


You took me home, gave me food and a bed,
And shared your own pillow with my poor tired head.
We snuggle and play, and you talk to me low,
You love me so dearly, you want me to know.         

I may have lived most of my life with another,
But you outshine them with a love so much stronger.
And I promise to return all the love I can give,
To you, my dear person, as long as I live.

I may be with you for a week, or for years,
We will share many smiles, you will no doubt shed tears.
And when the time comes that God deems I must leave,
I know you will cry and your heart, it will greive.

And when I arrive at the Bridge, all brand new,
My thoughts and my heart will still be with you. And I will brag to all who will hear,
Of the person who made my last days so dear.


Do I Go Home Today ?
  By:   S. Thompson


My family brought me home cradled in their arms.
They cuddled me and smiled at me and said I was full of charm.
They played with me and laughed with me and showered me with toys.
I sure do love my family, especially the girls and boys.
The children loved to feed me, they gave me special treats
They even let me sleep with them - all snuggled in the sheets.
I used to go for walks, often several times a day.
They even fought to hold the leash, I'm very proud to say.
These are the things I'll not forget - a cherished memory,
because I now live in the shelter - without my family.

They used to laugh and praise me when I played with that old shoe.
But I didn't know the difference between the old ones and the new.
The kids and I would grab a rag, for hours we would tug.
So I thought I did the right thing when I chewed the bedroom rug.
They said that I was out of control, and would have to live outside.
This I did not understand, although I tried and tried.
The walks stopped, one by one;  they said they hadn't time.
I wish that I could change things, I wish I knew my crime.
My life became so lonely,  in the back yard, on a chain.

They brought me to the shelter but were embarrassed to say why.
They said I caused an allergy, then they each kissed me goodbye.
If I'd only had some classes, when I was just a little pup,
then I would be the dog they want when I was all grown up.
"You only have one day left." I heard the worker say.
Does that mean I have a second chance? ...

DO I GO HOME TODAY?


The Ten Commandments


1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you will be painful for me.   Remember that before you adopt or buy me.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me ... it's crucial for my well being.

4. Don't be angry at me for long, and don't lock me up as a punishment. You have your work, your entertainment and your friends.   I have only you.

5. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don't understand your words, I understand your voice when it's speaking to me.

6. Be aware of how you treat me. Would you want to be treated the same way?

7. Remember before you hit me that I have teeth that could crush the bones of your hands, but I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being 'uncooperative', 'obstinate' or 'lazy', ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not feeling well or not getting the right food, or I've been out in the sun too long, or my heart is getting old and weak.

9. Take care of me when I grow old:   you too, will grow old.

10. Go with me on a difficult journey. Never say "I can't bear to watch it", or "Let it happen in my absence".  Everything is easier when you are there.


A DOG'S HOPE


Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world
is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of mine.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between blows,
your patience and understanding will more
quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music,
as you must know, by the fierce wagging of my tail when the sound
of your foot steps fall upon my waiting ear.

Please take me inside when it is cold and wet,
for I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet.

Keep my pan filled with water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.

Feed me clean food that I may stay well,
to romp and play and do your bidding to walk by your side
and stand ready, willing, and able to
protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, my friend, when I am very old and no longer enjoy good health, hearing,
and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going.
I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath that I draw
that my fate was always safest in your hands...

I will always be your BEST FRIEND.


How Could You?
Copyright Jim Willis 2002

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?"  -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.

We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of love."

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me.  These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.

You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?" They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago.

At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream ... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?" Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself --a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author:  Jim Willis

If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.


I Found Your Wolf Today
By: John Braden of Tundra Shepherd Rescue/AZ


I found your wolf today. No, he has not been adopted by anyone. Most of us, who are into rescue, and live out here in the desert, have many more wolves than we want. Those who do not own or rescue wolves do so because they choose not to. I know you hoped he would find a good home when you left him out there in the wilderness... ..but he did not. When I first saw him he was miles from the nearest house and he was alone, thirsty, and limping from a cholla burr in his paw. How I wish I could have been you as I stood before him. To see his tail wag and his eyes brighten as he bounded into your arms, knowing you would find him, knowing you had not forgotten him, knowing that you could help him. To see the forgiveness in his eyes... for the suffering and pain he had known in his never-ending quest to find you... but I was not you... ..and despite all my persuasion, his eyes see a stranger. He did not trust. He would not come. He turned and continued his journey... ..one he was sure would bring him to you.

He does not understand you are NOT looking for him. He only knows you are not there, he only knows that he must find you. You are his "Alpha", his leader... ..the only one that he has ever known. This is more important than food, or water, or the stranger who can give him these things, and remove the pain in his paw.

Persuasion and pursuit seemed futile... .. I did not even know his name! I drove home, filled a bucket with water and a bowl with food and returned to where we had met. I could see no sign of him, but left my offering under the tree where he had sought shelter from the sun and a chance to rest. You see... ..he is not of the desert. When you domesticated him, you took away any instinct of survival out here. His purpose demands that he travel during the day.

He doesn't know that the sun and heat will claim his life. He only knows that he HAS to find you.

I waited hoping he would return to the tree, hoping my gift would build an element of trust so I might bring him home, remove the burr from his paw, give him a cool place to lie and help him understand that the part of his life with you... ..is now over and that his "Alpha" has abandoned him. He did not return that morning and at dusk the water and food were still there untouched... and I worried...

You must understand that many people would not attempt to help your wolf. Some would run him off, others would call the county Animal Control and some would try to kill him. The fate you thought you saved him from... ..would be preempted by his suffering for days without food or water.

I returned again before dark... ..I did not see him.

I went again early the next morning, only to find the food and water still untouched. If only you were here to call his name. Your voice is so familiar to him.

I began pursuit in the direction he had taken yesterday, doubt overshadowing my hope of finding him. His search for you was desperate, it could take him many miles in 24 hours.

It is hours later now and a good distance from where we first met... ..but I have found your wolf.

His thirst has stopped, it is no longer a torment to him. His hunger has disappeared. He no longer aches. The burrs in his paws bother him no more.  Your wolf has been set free from his burdens.

You see, your wolf has died.

I kneel next to him, with tears welling up in my eyes, and I cry out! I CURSE you for not being here yesterday so I could see the glow... ..if just for a moment, in those now vacant eyes. I pray that his journey has taken him to a place I think you hoped he would find. If only you knew what he went through to reach it... ..and I agonize. For I know that were he to awaken at this moment... ..and (if) I were to be YOU, his eyes would sparkle with recognition! He would lick your face... ..and his tail would wag with forgiveness!

At least he died knowing that his Alpha figure had not abandoned him...