I know a lady who lives in a rural state and who has very little money, but who has a heart the size of the universe. She lives on a country road where sadly it's the norm for people who no longer want their pets to dump them on an empty stretch of that road near her home. A big red hound with a happy smile perpetually planted on his doggie face is one such pet. He found his way to her backyard one morning this past spring, alarmingly skinny and very curious, so she took to feeding him outside whenever she fed her pet dogs inside and soon he was gaining weight and his coat was glossy again. Throughout the summer months, he'd come for a free meal a couple of times a day but then be off again doing whatever it was he did the rest of the time. As the weather turned cooler this fall, she'd let him sleep in her heated garage as she feared if she let him into her house he would hurt her chihuahuas, not because he was a mean dog, but because he was young and rambunctious and unaware of the enormous size difference between him and them. She even paid for him to be neutered to help curb the unwanted pet population.
And then he suddenly stopped coming around. She worried about him for several days until her son found him behind an outbuilding, laying in the mud and clearly not well. Together they hauled him back to their house where he was given the once-over. His foot appeared to be infected, so this lovely woman who often hasn't enough money for her family, once again took the dog to her vet. He was bathed and given routine shots and it was discovered that his foot was indeed infected because he had been shot. Now I know this is a rural area and farmers feel the need to protect their crops and livestock, but to shoot a dog? Or perhaps it was some kid or kids who thought it a fun game to shoot at him. Either way, it's a horrifying thing to consider: that there are people who think nothing of picking up a gun and firing at a helpless animal that may or may not be someone's beloved pet.
This woman has continued to care for this lovely animal as he heals and recuperates. She fears for the day he will finally go his way again as he is no longer a dog that likes to be kept indoors, having now spent so much time wandering wild and free, but she is prepared to feed him and keep him for as long as he will stay.
And she was talking with another woman who lives in her area. Both were discussing how horrible it is to see so many dogs and cats dead in the miles of empty road between their homes, hit by cars as they try to survive on their own for the first time in their lives. Dogs and cats that at one time were someone's pets until those people thought nothing of ditching them on the side of the road, left to fend for themselves. This second lady has brought many of them into her home and cares for them until the local shelters can find them homes. She won't actually bring them to those shelters, for if no one adopts these poor animals they'll be euthanized, and she can't bear to think of that happening. So she too feeds them, vets them and hangs on to them until they are lucky enough to find a new family to love them. All at her own expense.
In a world full of rotten people who treat animals like objects who have no feelings, who don't fear or suffer or feel pain, there are still angels who respect animals enough to go without for themselves in order to save the unwanted and unloved. Both of these ladies are very good people. It's too bad there aren't more of them in this world.
Photo courtesy of Malarkey and Mayhem on flickr.