Friday, January 6, 2006

"The Lord Looks Out For......"

"The Lord looks out for Saints and Drunks."
I remember, as a kid, being told this by my Grandmother anytime I worried when my Mother went out for a night on the town.
But, during the years I have been in rescue, I have added a new one to those pearls of wisdom:
"The Lord Looks Out for Animal Rescuers."
I was, once again, in a low, anxious mood yesterday worrying over what I was going to do with "Donald," the sweet Ridgeback mix, living on borrowed time at the animal control shelter.
I had seemingly made a promise to take this dog, that I couldn't keep.
But, just when all options seemed to run out, a call came in yesterday, from a sweet young woman inquiring on a Ridgeback mix dog that had recently been adopted out.
"I believe Sienna has been spoken for. I posted her as a courtesy for someone else, but that was a while ago.  But, since you are interested in this type of dog, can I tell you about one at the pound that desperately needs to be saved?"
Usually when I tell people about specific animals that need to be rescued they tune out and give all kinds of excuses for why they can't foster, the most common one being, "I'm afraid I will fall in love with the animal."
"If you fall in love with the animal, you have first option to adopt, but you don't have to feel committed to that."
"That's OK, I will keep looking."
But, in this case, the young woman named, Kei, listened with interest and then told me she would have to discuss the possibility of fostering Donald with her boyfriend.
Although the young woman sounded very sincere and stable on the phone, I didn't want to get my hopes too high that I would hear back from her again.  But, within a half hour, Kei called to tell me she and her boyfriend could come and pick up Donald later in the evening.
"Glory, Hallelujah!  I thought to myself.
This was indeed, the miracle I needed and was hoping for!
And sure enough, Kei and her partner showed up a little after 7PM and we all drove up to AC&C to pick up Donald.
Kei is a very petite and attractive Asian girl who reminds me of the actress starring in "Memoirs of a Geisha" and her boyfriend, a nice, clean cut young man with blue eyes, brown hair  and a kind face.
Donald was subdued and seemed a little confused after spending more than two weeks at Animal Control.
It's a daunting and frightening experience for most animals who have to spend time in shelters.
Whatever the past homes, experiences or people in their lives, all are out the window when the animals come into the pounds.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like for a human to suddenly find him or herself in a strange place with nothing of one's former life or familiarity around?
One's whole life suddenly gone -- poof -- down the toilet!
Small wonder many animals "freak" when coming into shelters.  Cats cringing, silently in back of cages in attempt to "disappear" and dogs often frantically barking, "Where are my people?  When are they coming to get me?"
Donald wasn't like that in the cage at AC&C.
Rather, he was quiet, subdued and seemingly depressed.
But, as Kai, Glen and I left the shelter last night with Donald, he gently wagged his tail.
Perhaps something good might happen after all?
Donald went calmly into the back seat of the car and I slid in beside him, as Kai and Glen dropped me off at my home.  I stroked the top of the hound mix's head, saying, "It's OK now. You are going to be safe."
The dog gazed wistfully out the window as the car left the Harlem neighborhoods where Donald was apparently found and brought into the AC&C as a "stray."
I wondered if certain things and places in the neighborhood were familiar to him?
After the car left Harlem, Donald layed down on the car seat and peacefully, closed his eyes, all the stress of the past couple of weeks (or maybe months?) suddenly gone.
Kai and Glen finally dropped me off in front of my house.
"Please call me and let me know how it's going," I said to them when exiting the car.
"And thank you so much for coming to get Donald!  You are indeed good people!"
Later last night I had a long conversation with another animal rescuer who called me asking if I needed any medications for cats as her group just received a large donation of antibiotics.
"I sure do," I told Debbie Ramano of "SaveCats."
We then went on to talk about all the trials and tribulations of this work.
Debbie talked of her efforts to spay/neuter feral cats and the rescuing of cats and dogs from dangerous situations.
She doesn't "pull" from animal control because the work is so overwhelming and challenging in the Queens neighborhoods in which she lives.
"Well, all efforts are needed, " I reassured her. "If you weren' t rescuing and neutering these cats on the street, they would all be coming into Animal Control anyway. I spent my first six years in rescue, dealing with strays on the streets, primarily in Harlem."
And yes, I remember those early days of crawling into abandoned buildings, junk lots and alley ways, sometimes in the dead of night.
It all reminds me now of those wise words of my Irish Grandmother:
"The Lord looks out for Saints and Drunks."
To add now:
"And Animal Rescuers."