I am writing this long-hand at first because the afternoon thunderstorm caught me short; blowing in while I rushed home from my presumably well-timed trip to Publix, trying, but failing, to get home ahead of it. By the time I had body-slammed the groceries into the house and galloped the horses into the barn, we were in the midst of a full-fledged howler. Gracie did not appreciate this one single bit. She does not like storms. I should have had her thundershirt on and essential oils rubbed in well before this. The bodily contact she seeks from me now while draped across my arm on the couch is providing her thin comfort. Still, I matter. Turns out Bruno doesn’t care much for storms either. He has sidled up onto the couch to claim the space across my legs. Bruno has been with us three days and already, I matter.
Let me tell you about Bruno; my version of his story, anyway.
Someone cared for Bruno once, maybe — or even probably — for the better part of his ten years of life. Whatever that arrangement was, however, somehow cracked apart and Bruno slipped out. I don’t know how that works inside a dog’s mind; how they absorb the grim and sudden transition to homelessness and self-preservation after a long pattern of belonging, of being taken care of. Remember Molly’s story? Remember how she was dumped and how she wandered, fending for herself for weeks until days of unrelenting rain storms drove her to plant herself on the mercy of someone’s front porch? That almost didn’t end well for Molly and by almost I mean the very thinnest part of her held hope for being “wanted” beneath the much greater weight of “unwantedness” bearing her to the ground.
I speak of Molly here because Bruno’s story runs such a gut-wrenching parallel to hers. Homelessness was exceedingly unkind to Bruno and he endured weeks, maybe months, of it until one day, in a final state of surrender, like Molly, he collapsed on someone’s front walk unable or unwilling to more further. I will warn you now, the pictures of him when he was found will make you want to cry. Go ahead. I did.
Right about then, the world was standing still for Bruno. Right about then, people were making choices that could send him the last little step of the way to his sorrowful and sadly predictable ending. Or….extend the tiniest shred of “wantedness” to him and give him hope.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I have been existing in a chronic state of dis-ease and depression since the election. I do not understand this cataclysmic shift into madness and the horridness it has unleashed, hell bent it seems on rampaging over even the most basic (though mightily hard won) standards of goodwill and kindness. It takes away the light. So here is what I want to say about this story of a little dog: Hope is only available in the thin space in which Bruno or Molly were suspended because someone said “screw this! Not going to happen on my watch!” Well, maybe their inner dialogue was more lyrical than that, but the gist of it is that it came from the fierce, step-outside-the-box goodness of who they were and it made them reach out, throw a line. In Molly’s case it was the Wheaten Rescue. In Bruno’s case, it was a clearly amazing woman named Jennifer Johnson, who knew Mr. Bruno had zero chance of survival in the Animal Control system, given his sorry condition. So she came to rescue him, scooping him up off the pavement and taking him home to her already full house to nurse him back to health and try to find his owners or a new home. All. By. Herself. Because it’s the way you want the world to work and aren’t going to assume anymore that someone else is going to do it.
Now, truth be told, Jennifer was having a bit of a struggle finding the right new home for Bruno. Two placements failed, through no fault of either Jennifer or Bruno and that is where I first saw him — a Facebook picture of his sweet, woeful little face on the car ride returning from his failed mismatch.
And you know what I said when I saw that face? Well, I said “that’s a wheaten, or a big chunk of him is” which made me wonder whether the Wheaten Rescue group would be willing to step in and help. And now I will tell you a bit more about the Wheaten Rescue and Jody Greene and Melissa Nelson, the two women who coordinate it. The Rescue works under the auspices of the Breeders’ Club which has an ethical standard that breeders accept and work to rehome any pup of their own breeding; a safety net of sorts. Monroe’s breeders, Tami and Jim Herzog, accepted back a pup when he was twelve years old, caused by the ill-health and subsequent passing of his owners, which speaks to the integrity of who they are. It doesn’t take much awareness to understand that most of the pups in need of rescue have murkier pasts — backyard breeders (Molly) and puppy mills (Maizey). That is why they feel like angels to me, Jody and Melissa. Because they are extending a benevolent hand to pups who are not required to pass a “worthiness” standard; even being only part wheaten, like Bruno, was sufficient.
So Bruno is now in the hands of the Wheaten Rescue and we are fostering him.
Jennifer has done the heavy lifting on healing him and was diligent to the smallest detail in making sure his transition to us went well. I am hoping that he can blossom a bit with us and that might help Jody and Melissa find the most perfect match for his new — and final — forever home. He is getting lots of chances to explore new things!
He is adorable, sweet and dear. We are going to the vet tomorrow to tweak a few things, but he is a “young” ten year old and has years of love left to give. Look at Molly, rescued at the age of twelve, two years ago now, and still going strong!
Bruno has an iron-clad guarantee from me: Comfort and love and security will never be taken away from him again. I can promise this to him because I know Jody and Melissa and I know me and now my new friend, Jennifer. We would never let that pup down; not now.
We are full up with animals here on the farm and one more dog makes things that much crazier. I couldn’t be happier. I am proud to be a woman trying to make a difference in the lives of animals. I am prouder still to be associated with the fierce awesomeness of other amazing women who are quietly going on about the business of shining light out into the darker corners of this world. My words are not much, but it’s what I have to offer: Jody and Melissa and Jennifer — my heart is opened wider because you are who you are and I thank you beyond belief for that.
P.S. If you want to learn more about the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Greater Tampa Bay, you can visit their website here.
If you want to learn more about the Group’s rescue efforts (or put in an application to adopt Bruno — big smile), you can visit their rescue page here.