Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Many years ago I looked down at a tiny black and white spotted puppy, who loved up at me with hopeless love in her eyes and I was captivated. Yesterday I looked down at a tiny black and white spotted puppy and history once again came full circle.

Lily, the first puppy, is approaching 16 years with me. We've been through a lot together, years of my being away from her most of the time trying to work and take care of my grandfather, years of my starting my own business and spending much more time with her by my side. She has seen me through a divorce and the deaths of two much missed partners, through some very good times and times that were not so good, and through the darkest nights and the most golden days.

Sweet Lily
I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive family, especially my mom and stepdad, and the best and dearest of friends.  But on the loneliest nights, only the comfort of a furry body and a loving heart snuggled next to you can make it a little easier to face another day.

Tess, the new puppy, is joyous and active and bright and cheerful. Already she has made friends in the community, being far more outgoing and less cautious than Lily. Tess already loves Lily and oddly enough, Lily loves her. Barnabas the cat has taught her respect and the cockatiel, Rudy, has stared her down and showed Tess her place. She shares the trait of confidence that Lily has and seems to have Lily's huge capacity for love and loyalty. She also seems as smart as Lily, even if in puppyhood she is lacking Lily's quiet wisdom.

Sadly, Lily and Tess have something else in common. Both of them were dumped by someone, probably someone who was not responsible enough to have their dog spayed or neutered and who compounded their irresponsibility in their disposal of the burden of a litter of unwanted puppies. Both of them were lucky enough to wind up in the kind hands of people who recognized their value and made sure they were given a home. I'm not sure I deserve the luck to have such wonderful dogs in my life but I am thankful that these two were spared to bring me joy.

Americans spend an astonishing amount of money on their pets, an estimated $50.84 billion per year at last count for food, vet care, boarding, grooming, medication and incidentals. You can see dogs with jeweled collars and cats with cashmere pillows and both with cut crystal food dishes. Something like 78 million dogs have homes in the United States, which probably vary wildly in the standards of care that the dogs receive  (not everyone will type their blog with one dog laying in their lap and the other on their feet.) Yet 60 percent of the 5 to 7 million dogs that arrive in shelters every year don't make it out of the shelters into homes, loving or otherwise. It is impossible to know how many dogs are abandoned that don't even make it into shelters. These dogs rarely survive unless taken in by some kind human. They starve, are killed by cars or fall prey to wild animals. The lucky dogs die quickly.

I know these are just numbers and it's hard to see the desperate faces and sad eyes behind them. Yesterday when I went to the shelter to pick up Tess it was painful to walk out, knowing that I left behind a room full of dogs that would probably not see another week, and that their last days on earth, despite the kindness of shelter personnel and volunteers, were traumatic and stressed.

All I can say is, spay and neuter your pets. Think before you breed intentionally: does this litter improve the breed you are working with and can all the puppies be placed in good and PERMANENT homes? Yes, money can be made in breeding animals but a truly dedicated breeder realizes that puppies don't result in riches if the breeding is done thoughtfully and responsibly. When you want a puppy look into adopting through a rescue or a shelter. There are undiscovered treasures out there.

What I'm spinning: Beautiful silver Romney from Thistle Cover Farm.
What I'm knittingGarden Pond by Patricia Clift Martin in Fortissima Socka
What I'm crocheting: Everything is hibernating
What I'm readingThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais. Just finished The Paris Wife by Paula McLain for book club..
Current sounds & sights for spinning along:  The Adventures of Merlin on Netflix. Just how far away from the story can they stray?
How the diet is going: Starting a walking program, thanks to a small spotted dog!


Thistle Cove Farm said...

Oh Leslie, Tess is AAAdorable! I'm so glad she and Lily and the rest of the crew are living in peace. There's nothing, like you say, of a warm and fuzzy body snugged up against you in the night. I've gone from 5 (lost Abigail and Grace last Autumn) to 3 (Sadie, Sam, Sophie) and the cats.
I think it was November, I did a blog post on having Tippy spayed; now it's Lily turned Levi's turn to be neutered.
Dave always told me he slept with one eye open -grin-.
My prayer is, "please, God, let me die the day after I can no longer care for my beloved companion animals!"

Cathy said...

And I quite agree on everything you wrote.

Kimberly said...

What a beautifully written post! It breaks my heart to think about all of the dogs and cats with so much capacity for love in their little furry bodies dying each day because humans are too ignorant to have them spayed or neutered. Lily and Tess are so fortunate to have found a wonderful friend like you!

Leslie Shelor said...

Little Tess of the giant loving heart came down with parvo this past weekend and it was decided that she would not survive the treatment. My only comfort, besides Lily, is that the little one had a wonderful last week and did not die alone and afraid.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Oh Leslie, I am so, so sorry! God bless you for giving her a wonderful week of love, coziness and comfort.