Every month I bring you a tidbit of information hoping to make your dog’s life easier or share some insight on understanding your dog. This month is different. This month, I’d like to send a letter to all the rescue dogs we couldn’t save. I know they can’t read it, but you can, and maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference one day.
My beloved rescue.
From the moment I picked you up at the shelter, I knew you were special.
I knew I wanted to heal your hurts, help you get healthy and move onto a forever family of your own. Whether you were huddled in the back corner or lunging aggressively at the kennel door, it didn’t matter to me. All I saw was pain, confusion and fear, and I wanted to help you.
The first vet visit was rough, as more often than not, the heart worm test came back positive and I knew the strain your body was under with the worms in your heart and possibly your lungs.
From being in the shelter, we planned on a round of antibiotics because I knew kennel cough was coming, so we kept an ear out listening for the signs of that and hoped you would be the lucky one it missed.
Were you one of the many with behavior problems? Reacting from years of abuse? Not knowing how to accept affection, but knowing somewhere inside that you desperately needed it? I wanted to tell you not to worry, little one, we could help you and we would be patient.
First through the kennel door, then on the end of a leash, and finally, at your pace, we hoped you’d allow us to give affection and you would feel the warmth of love flow through your body once again.
But it didn’t happen that way, the heart worms were too far along or you couldn’t accept affection and thought biting people was OK.
With nowhere safe to go, we had no choice. That breaks my heart. With more time and a sanctuary where you could live and not hurt someone, would the outcome have been different?
I have to believe it would be because I can’t keep doing what I do every day if I believe that we can’t save more.
The choice to end your life was not easy.
All avenues were exhausted, everything was tried and contacts were made.
Your life will not go unnoticed, little one.
Every lesson you taught us will be remembered and taught to others.
You’ve made us better rescuers.
I truly believe that humans can undo what humans do to dogs, given the right tools.
For you, I did all I could. I spent your last moments telling you how much I loved you, massaging your coat, caressing your ears and looking into your eyes. Sending as much love as I could and praying that the peace you couldn’t find here on Earth would find you in death.
Rest in peace, my sweet rescue. I couldn’t save you from yourself, but it didn’t stop me from trying.
Kathryn Leisinger is the “Dean of Wags” and a Herald correspondent.