By Laura Johnson and Molly McButter I usually don’t write things like this but I had to share a bit of an epiphany that came to me at the Basset Blast.
I won the Volunteer of the Year/Golden Basset Award this year. Aside from my general loathing of awards, I didn’t feel I deserved it. I felt I was cheating because I get so much joy out of helping the dogs that anything more than that is just over kill. But it is nice to be thanked. (So, thanks! J)
As I was accepting the award, I looked out at the crowd. I said a few words, and to be honest I didn’t know what the hell I said. Then it hit me…THIS gathering, THIS moment is important. Look at all the families, with their fur-kids and regular kids. You could feel the positive energy radiating off the room. It hit me like a truck.
Why do we do this? Why do we bank thousands of miles, make thousands of calls, and generally get our homes trashed for a dog?
Rescue is something that is like an addiction. You save one and you can’t get enough. When that dog comes to you, dirty, flea bitten and half starved, you feel angry. You feel sad, and you feel a sense of urgency. You take them in your arms, and cry for them. You grieve for their suffering. And you know what they do? Wag their tails and lick your face. The simplicity of their love and the absolute nature of their devotion constantly astound me.
So you bathe them, get them to the vet, feed them and heal some of the unseen wounds. You replace carpets and mop floors in the quest to get them to potty outside. You love them as unconditionally as they love you. And the worst and best part of it all is sending them off with their new family. It is bitter sweet, and it breaks my heart a little every time. But I do it again, and again.
Then you get to an event where we all come together. You see the dogs that came to you broken, lost and neglected. Females used as meal tickets and males left to roam and fend for themselves. Hounds dumped because they were no longer useful. Here they are, in one place. They are fat, well bathed and decked out in outfits. They are spoiled, and treated better than the humans do for themselves. When one remembers you…and comes running…and licks your face…my heart would burst with joy if it wasn’t in my chest.
I remember all my babies, because that is what they are to me. They have a piece of my existence that will forever be theirs. When I find a family that has a hole only a hound can fill, and they thank me for getting them their new companion, I feel like a fraud. I get more out of caring for them then you will ever know. I squirrel away moments like this to wrap myself in when I am faced with the horror and pain in the world. (And I see a lot of it)
The best part is that I know the others in the rescue feel the same way. It is like a group secret that everyone associated with the rescue shares. Gary, with his never ending sense of humor and calming grace; Sommer and her constant drive to do more, help more. Andrea, who manages to keep 1000 things in the air at once, and doesn’t break a sweat. And Shelly, who spends countless hours giving us the resources we need to continue. Their spouses and significant others and families too, giving up time, and money and energy. The other people close to us that step up and get it done, without so much as a ripple in the pond, until they are dog-tired. (Pardon the pun but I couldn’t help myself.)
Then there are the hundreds of people that support us. That Facebook the crap out of everything, blog and photograph and share. Those that send donations, buy things through the Slobber Shoppe and come to the events. The Volunteers that give up their fun time to lend a hand, and the management of all of it that gets done so effortlessly, even though we know it’s not.
I wish I could thank you all for your help. There are others, so many others. We fuel the fires in our souls with the love of hounds. And all these people remind me that the fires are burning strong.
But I want to thank the hounds; the Bassets that give us a reason to be here. Thank you for not giving up on us humans; forgiving us despite how ugly we are and how cruel we can be. Thank you for giving us one more chance to help you. Thank you for accepting our love, and returning it ten fold. Thank you for never giving up hope. And we will never stop giving you a reason to hope, if we can help it.
Laura “Big Red” Johnson
Mommy to Molly McButter