My blog post about Maverick has been on my mind this week. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the image of him malnourished, neglected and mistreated. I know he is now healthy and happy, and his story has the ultimate happy ending; a human who loves him like family.
The concept of “family” has been on my mind as well. I’ve been thinking about how humans can neglect and mistreat each other to the point where you wonder how they ever could have loved you at all. Sometimes reading words that “family” has used to communicate with me leaves me almost gasping for breath, thinking “Do I really mean this little to them? Am I really deserving of this treatment, this disrespect?”
Then I look at my dogs. We don’t know much about Fred’s history, but we’re pretty sure he wasn’t abused. He was very skinny when we adopted him but he also has severe food allergies. Our thought is his previous owners couldn’t “figure him out” and didn’t put the time and effort into the attempt. As hard as those first few months were, we never considered giving him up. He was and still is our baby.
Angel’s story is a little different. She was bred at ten months old, which alone is animal abuse, in my opinion. After a week (?!?!) she was taken from her puppies and dumped at the shelter. Three weeks later, her puppies arrived at the shelter, weak, malnourished and dying. They were all euthanized. With Angel’s skittish behavior (it’s pretty apparent that she was neglected, starved and probably abused) it’s a miracle she wasn’t euthanized as well.
Fast-forward to today, and she is loving, loyal, happy and a completely different dog. She loves people, children and dogs alike. She bonded with my aunt during her recent visit and proved that love really can conquer all. She had every right to turn inward, hate all humans and lash out at anyone who tried to touch her. Instead, she shows me unconditional love every day and has restored my faith in that concept.
Unconditional love. I’ve written about it before because honestly, when I do feel it from those who truly know how to show it, I almost don’t know how to receive it. I feel like I’m always waiting for something bad to happen, for someone to walk away, for those nasty words to find their way back to my ears and my heart.
Maybe one day I’ll be like Angel and my faith in humanity will return. Maybe I’ll be able to read a story of an abused dog and not feel that rise of hatred toward the human who caused all that pain. Maybe I’ll fully receive that unconditional love without waiting for the other shoe to drop.
What I know now is, the day Fred came home was the day I was forever changed. Adding Angel to our family just made my heart grow bigger. The lessons I learn from my dogs make me want to be a better human, a better wife and a really good mom. They make me want to pick up the broken and tell them there is hope, even when that concept seems impossible. Sometimes you just have to open your heart for the impossible to become a reality.
Just ask Angel, who is finally home, finally loved, and finally free.
And so am I.