Monday, December 3, 2018

Why we rescue dogs… because we’ve been rescued!

I was taken back recently by an article online that attempted to make the point that dogs might be man’s best friend but aren’t very smart. What’s amazing in my life is that our assortment of dogs, who are our family, have touched and transformed our lives! Yes, Anne and I have a soft heart, propensity for rescuing strays that have been abandoned or escaped and are lost. My first experience with rescues was in the midst of our first dog, Penny, an Australian Shepherd pure breed, who was almost 19 and not long for the world. Much to my wife’s displeasure, I found Graham, a pound puppy, at our local shelter who was an Aussie and Chocolate Lab mix. 

We had never imagined that we would ever become a two-dog family, yet that is what Graham did to us. During the last months of our dear Penny’s life our new dog Graham helped Penny have a little extra jump in her step before she went to doggie heaven. The rest of our rescues were ones we have found on the canal and parks around where we live. I have to be honest I have never viewed dogs as being dumb animals and was personally insulted by this article. 

As I remember the impact of seeing poor little Gus, who has a punk rocker type of hair style, sitting on the edge of steps on our canal my heart broke. My Anne, who is truly the queen of rescuing our pups, was quick to go help him. He had been attacked by Coyotes and most likely wouldn’t have lasted another day on the step. We took him home, he was very receptive to being helped so we bathed him and cleaned up his wounds. After about a week his cuts were healing and after a few weeks he looked great. 

One of the questions we get asked often both about why we do At Risk Work in a tough neighborhood and why in the world is my little Anne a Chaplain at an all-Male Prison in addition to taking in our strays turned family dogs? The simple fact is because we have been rescued, rebirthed, renewed and loved unconditionally by God we respond in similar fashion to those around us. 

So, the morning we saw a little puppy, mixed pit, on the canal road with a large school bus looming over it my heart jumped. The Lady Bus Driver had stopped and screeched at us to get the dog from underneath the bus. I was trained from youth to jump to attention and respond. So, after grabbing this little puppy dog, my life was touched and transformed. Much like Graham had helped our aging Penny do better her last days, so our Freckles became our Graham’s special friend. 

Peanut, who is pictured with our Freckles, was a byproduct of our rescuing a rather oil and tar stained little Chihuahua mix, who we named Rosy. Little did we know or fathom that our new find who give birth to 4 of the cutest little puppies in a couple of weeks. So, we end up keeping 2 of these pups; Peanut, who has always been our little ‘wild child’ along with Carly who had been the runt but now has a rather large girth. Can’t imagine life with these 2 little sisters. 

Our last adoption and rescue is little Wiggles who weighs maybe 2 ½ pounds. We were at the park with a group of kids and teens for a few hours and this tiny little guy was around and seemed to be on his own. I did the fatherly thing and called my Anne and asked her to go by the park and get this little guy if he was still around. Fortunately, the little guy came right up to Anne and jumped into her little car. Now, little Wiggles, is the one who can leap up onto the bed and walked on his hind legs. 

The larger story in our lives is that 30 years ago the Lord brought us our daughter and son through a similar process. We had our Heather when she was 26 weeks old and spent a year in a Neonatal ICU in an older hospital in San Francisco. We didn’t necessarily understand that we had high risk pregnancy issues but ultimately Anne’s sister, a kindergarten teacher, had our Julie in her class. It didn’t take too long before we heard about Julie’s history. The journey of adopting her and her brother took over 2 years and much battle with social services departments both in San Diego County and Contra Costa County. 

The amazing gift, which we have experienced, is because we have been rescued and redeemed, we are so incredibly blessed to have been given an incredible family by God’s design. I would never compare our kid’s journey of becoming our family to rescuing dogs, yet, what’s amazing is that our kids also have rescued dogs too! (So, yes, we love our grand dogs too but especially love our grandkids, Hudson, Bryce, Jacob and soon to come a little Julie or Chris!) 

Yes, Christmas is a time to understand the real meaning and message of the baby in the manger who has come to rescue lost sheep who clearly in need of a savior and shepherd!

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