I have one life suggestion for you: Volunteer. There is not too much I can think of that is better to do in your life. At first I thought it was kind of something you did because you had a passion for a certain cause. And I also thought it was an obligation - we're here on this earth, we need to leave it better than we found it. I still think both of those things are true but I have realized something else about volunteering. It can be completely selfish. In a good way. I didn't start out volunteering out of selfishness, but I have realized now that I have gotten far more out of it than I have given.
I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people and have had the honor to love 100's of dogs even if only for a short time before they got to go live with people who could love them for a life time.
Yesterday I posted an update on Preacher. A bit later a friend shared a portrait of Preacher that her husband had done. It was very emotional for me, not only because I love my dog but because I love their dog. I met Megan and Greg when they adopted a little hairless pit bull puppy from Tom and I. Let me back up a bit...Tom and I were down at the local shelter to pick out a new foster. We had written down a few numbers that we were interested in and were nearing the end of the runs. We were in an area where they keep dogs that have medical issues. Usually I'm ok. I've been doing this long enough that I have learned to put all of my focus on the dogs I can help and not all of the dogs I can't help. It's the only way to survive fostering. So as I walk down the "sick" run I look to my left and see this tiny little puppy with more sores than hair. He was crusty and wrinkled and stinky and he stood up, walked to the cage door and wagged his little hairless tail at me. I turned to Tom and said "don't look over there" and I started to cry. It was one of only two times I have ever cried at that shelter in 10 years. There was nothing in me that could leave that little dog there. He was a sick, hairless, pit bull puppy - what could be less adoptable??? When we went into the office and said that we wanted this puppy they looked at us with a combination of crazy and gratitude. They knew this puppy was just putting in his required 72 hours before being euthanized. But Tom and I scooped him up, a bit reluctantly because he was god-awful-gross, and took him home.
This little dog had a spirit that was unreal. He almost seemed like he didn't hurt, which was impossible given the severe case of mange that he had. It was so bad that the infection had gotten into his lymph nodes and we had to have them tested to make sure it wasn't cancer. It took about 24 hours for me to forget how stinky and crusty he was and how his skin would sometimes fall off in your hands. After 24 hours of his cheerful romps in the grass and games of stick chasing I was head-over-heals in love with him and would gladly kiss his leathery face!
Gradually his hair started filling in and thoughts of keeping him were creeping in...but just in the nick of time I got an e-mail from Megan and Greg. I loved them for him the moment I met them. And I was amazed at how quickly they saw past his not-so pretty exterior. The only question left was would their dogs like him as much as they did. I think it was a bit of a rocky start but now, gosh, five or six years later, I get to see pictures of he and Tula (their other dog) curled up together, snuggled on the couch, going for bike rides/runs, dressed up for the holidays - these pictures are my dream come true.
Now Cecil, well actually his name is Mole Pie now...funny thing about that, Tom and I named him Cecil but called him CeeCee Pie...We never told Megan that but he somehow still ended up being called Pie...anyway, he is happy. He smiles and is living the life.
The short version of that very long story is that I never would have met Megan, Greg, or Pie if I weren't volunteering. And Greg wouldn't have created that amazing portrait of Preacher that I will always treasure. And the thing is, there are so many more Charlotte and Rusty, Julie, Robyn, Davy, Zoe, and Mia, Nora and Sean, Kelly and Tom, Chris and Debbie, Brandi and Mark, Melody and Jake, Ed and Michelle, and so, so many more. Thank you all for what you have given us over the years.