In animal sheltering work, it’s easy to think of each adoption as a "happy ending" to that animal’s story. That’s one way to think about it – but it’s just as true to think of it as a "happy beginning." The love that begins between a person and an animal when they leave our shelter often lasts for many years. It doesn’t just save the animal’s life; it shapes the person’s life, forever.
I’m always reminded of this when we hear from adopters years later, often to let us know that their beloved shelter animal has passed away. Here are two samples we’ve received lately:
- From our Facebook page: "I just wanted to share with you a puppy success story, many years ago a single mother and four kids adopted a German Shepherd/Collie from you. I just wanted to thank you for rescuing him and bringing Chives into our lives, he passed away two years ago and we couldn't have been happier with the memories we had with him. Thank you so very much!!"
- In my e-mail: "I fell in love with a mutt named Midnight in March, 1999. His first two years with us were very challenging. I worked with him-retraining, reconditioning, rehabbing, for those two years because I loved him so much, I could not let him go. He was a brilliant dog. We put him to sleep last night. And I felt like sharing an old WHS story with you today."
Even better are the notes we get when a shelter animal has passed on ... and the family has come back to bring another shelter animal into their lives. Like this one from Facebook:
"Back in December, we lost our wonderful 15-1/2 year old Bailey, a Dalmatian/Border Collie mix. After just one week, we decided to visit WHS for some fuzz therapy. We ended up leaving that day with a new family member. Here is Mocha (formerly Moose) with our youngest daughter. He is such a great dog and he has fit perfectly into our family. Mocha has helped our hearts heal and helped us not miss Bailey so much."
Now that is a new beginning. What a privilege to hear that our work has helped animals and people in such a powerful way.
(We love it when people share their own happy beginnings on our Facebook page – just search "Wisconsin Humane Society" on Facebook. And keep your fingers crossed for a happy beginning for Phoebe, the beautiful 12-year-old cat at our Milwaukee Campus. She’s in the picture, and at this link.
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