Puppy One: “It’s okay, bro. I think we’re in Maine.”
Puppy Two: “Smells pine-y and salty and a little fishy to me.”
Through a series of celebrated and unexpected and unforeseeably serendipitous connections and happenings, two weeks ago I found myself standing in the bright July sunshine, watching human beings carefully lifting and/or leading fifty-one puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats out of a shiny white van.
Three tired drivers-slash-caregivers, each mentioning the need for a shower, channeled the adrenaline of the arrival into smiles and coos as they gently opened the doors of the crates and reached for their precious cargo.
Introductions were given to the carefully gowned and gloved staff and volunteers.
This is Firefly…
A mewing kitten was gently passed to someone here, while an excited dog’s leash exchanged hands there.
Beside me stood Patsy, the Director of the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland (The League).
She and I had written back and forth just after Belle-ah’s Gotcha Day I’d reached out to let her know what an incredible experience I’d had with The League’s Safety Net Program – a program that works with shelters in parts of our country that have less stringent registration and/or spay and neuter laws, resulting in overcrowded shelters with euthanasia numbers for heathy animals that are, well, tough to take euthanasia numbers for healthy animals.
Patsy had offered a behind the scenes tour of The League, along with an invitation to be there when a transport came in.
Oh, twist my arm!
Wouldn’t you know, one of the possibilities was a transport from the Skiatook Paws And Claws Animal Rescue from Skiatook Oklahoma, the rescue that had brought Belle-ah to Maine.
And one of the drivers?
The woman who had written the Facebook post that had me erupting in goosebumps, knowing that the dog she was writing about was my dog… my silly little Okie girl.
The woman who’d cried right along with Belle-ah on a pre-dawn morning back in June, when they both realized their time together was over. Paige cared enough, and hoped enough, to send her on the transport to Maine where she might find her forever home. It was something Paige could not explain to the scared, sad hound dog she’d fallen for.
There were many human eyes, leaking many human tears, as the transport van’s doors closed on that morning. It’s the same for many fosters and caregivers all over the world, who give their time and energy and money and love so that animals can, hopefully, live out the rest of their lives as cherished pets.
When Patsy described what it was like to be present as a transport arrives from far away, she used the word, ‘magic’.
And it was.
There were so many ideas and thoughts and wonders tumbling around my brain on that day, but one concept kept rising to the top.
I’m one of those people who believes that we humans – all of us – are doing the best we can in this life. I also recognize that some people, doing their best on any given day, can hurt others.
None of us – no human – is only one thing.
We are multidimensional and our ‘best’ varies, given each day (heck, sometimes given each second).
Backgrounds, mental status, current circumstances, health…
Amount of sleep, grief, good hair day/bad hair day, latest run in with a grouchy neighbor…
So many things impact our capabilities in the world at any time.
It has also never occurred to me that my sizing up of anyone else’s life could possibly be one hundred percent accurate.
As dogs and cats of many ages and stages were taken off the transport, each meeting the next human beings in their chain of care, I was – of course – drawn to the faces of the animals. And yet, I found myself watching the humans even more closely.
These were people who stepped in when someone else’s ‘best’ could not include giving these animals safe and loving homes.
They were also stepping up, providing the interim care (and food and shelter and training and and and…) needed, for these creatures so dependent on humans for their very survival.
The transport team had to be exhausted, and yet they took the time to hold and sooth and whisper words of love and encouragement to every single animal they’d gotten to Maine.
The volunteers and staff who took the animals from the transport, and inside to their clean bedding and new toys, also smiled and snuggled and welcomed each new – hopefully very temporary – resident. More than one volunteer and/or staff member was laughing their way through their greetings as they used their entire bodies as ballast for an excited, pulling dog.
There was so much love in the air that day.
Love for the animals, of course.
But also love for the camaraderie.
Love for the exhausting, rewarding work.
Patsy, who welcomed me in and shared the love of her own job, was right.
It was, indeed, magic.
I did get to meet her, and it was pretty dang awesome. But you know who else got to?
Well, JoHn drove Belle-ah down separately so that she didn’t have to be confused about being at The Rescue League. Paige recognized ‘our girl’ as soon as they pulled in.
And Belle-ah recognized her right back!
I smiled all the way home…
With a hound dawg riding shotgun.
Thanks for readin’.
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