Growing up, dogs were always a part of my life, especially the strays. My first dog, Ringo, was found in the teen room at our church. He was so protective of my brother and me. If we fell in the backyard, he would circle us until we got up, letting us pull on his fur to steady ourselves. We had to give him away, but his new home was with a sweet couple who gave him the egg yolks from their breakfast because they couldn’t eat them. Match made in heaven.
The strays that followed will always stay in my heart. Toby was my childhood dog, from elementary school to Junior year of college. He was walking down the sidewalk with his sibling and parents on a Sunday. Being a big dog lover, I couldn’t help but pet all four of them, and the littlest one followed me back inside the house. Covered in ticks and fleas, with signs of abuse, my mother wrapped him in a blanket and gave him to a guy on his bike to give it back to the dog pack. The story goes that the guy couldn’t find the other dogs, so he laid the blanket at the corner of our yard with the dog on it. It rained and poured all morning, but the dog didn’t move until we came home. We were his family, even if we didn’t know it yet. That was Toby.
Now, we have two dogs who are rescues, each with unique stories. Though our house can get crazy, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Today is International Homeless Animals Day. It was started 21 years ago by the International Society for Animal Rights, or ISAR. Several cities in the US will hold candlelight vigils today to remember those animals that were killed because there was simply not enough room at the shelter to keep them until they found their family. According to the Humane Society, four million cats and dogs are put down each year.
So what can we do? First, always, always look to animal shelters for your future pets (especially the ones that will euthanize when they run out of room). Second, find a way to get involved with your local shelters, or at the very least give money to help aid them in sheltering these orphaned animals. I know that both Petco and Petsmart have ways to give a dollar or two extra at the register to help local shelters. Third, spay and neuter if you haven’t already. Not only does it help the population but it can also prevent future illnesses and cancers.
Finally, take part in remembering today. ISAR shows a list of vigils in the country, or you can take part in the vigil online.
I love my dogs, and couldn’t imagine life without them. They are absolutely precious to our family. I hope that other dogs and other families will have the opportunity to experience the blessings we have in ours.