Thursday, June 18, 2015

how a little red cotton ball changed my life.

If you know me at all you know that if I have the opportunity to make a short story long I'm gonna take it!  So let me start with the short story: Volunteer.  That's it.  It's good for your heart and soul.  That's the short story.
If you don't have time to read more you can stop right here.  Just volunteer.  Somewhere.
Here's the long story:
Way back in 1999 when Tom and I had just one dog (Seven) I decided we needed a Great Dane.  NEEDED.  Coincidentally Tom and I had each grown up with Danes and wouldn't it be so cool if we had one together now?!?  That was my thinking.  It shocks me now, but back then I started looking in the classifieds.  (wtf?)  I'm actually not sure what led me to start looking at rescue instead, but I did.  I guess maybe I believed, like a lot of people do, that: 
  1. if you want a pure bred dog you go to a breeder
  2. if you want a mutt you go to the pound.
We had adopted Seven from the Humane Society, but she was a mix breed (aka perfection!) so maybe I just thought, hell, I don't know what I thought.  I was young and dumb.
For some reason around this same time I subscribed to a local e-newsletter that had news about local rescue, dogs in need, etc. and in the process I learned about the overwhelming pet overpopulation problem.  It was kind of amazing, shocking really.  At the time Austin was killing thousands upon thousands of animals each year.  It was an eye-opener.  I thought I lived in this progressive city.  I thought Austin was cool, forward thinking, and way too hippy-dippy to ever be a city that was euthanizing more than 50 animals every DAY!  At that point I knew we would never ever buy a dog not ever not in a million billion years!  Instead, not only had I decided that if we were getting a Great Dane he would be adopted, but he has to be the most pitiful, needy Great Dane in existence. And by existence I mean drivable from Austin.  The closest Dane rescue group (yes, there was a Dane specific group...turns out there is a breed specific rescue for every single breed out there, and lots of 'em!), anyway, they had a Dane puppy that was deaf and blind in one eye.  Done!  Well, her foster family decided to keep her.  So...we adopted the second most pitiful dog they had, a 10 month old deaf boy we named Preacher.  And after the entire experience I knew I wanted to foster dogs...
A few months later we found a rescue group and that day we met the cutest little red cotton ball named Martin.  I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that our lives changed forever that day.  
Because of that red cotton ball (whose name quickly changed to Ozilline) Tom and I would spend well over a decade devoted to and emerged in dog rescue.  Because of that red cotton ball a few folks sat around my living room and formed Blue Dog Rescue.  Because of that red cotton ball I would have the honor of loving and being the person to Clarence, Pasqual, Vincent, Monkey, Clishy Marie, Veruca Jane, The Business Man, Horatio, Jessica Beatrice, Delta Dawn, and Angela Lansbury.  Because of that red cotton ball Tom and I would personally foster and essentially save the lives of more than 200 dogs over the course of 13 years.  Because of that red cotton ball I would make friends that I will have for the rest of my life.  Because of one, small three month old, red chow/golden retriever mix puppy my life would become infinitely better.
I had to say goodbye to that little red cotton ball a few days ago.  It broke my heart and left me reflecting on the day we met him and the turn our lives took after that day...You just never know what small (or large) choices you make will go on to influence your life.  Our decision to volunteer, although a seemingly small endeavor at the time, turned out to bring so much more love and positivity to our lives than we ever gave.  
So if I'm ever in the position of giving out life advice it will always be this: volunteer.  Just look at that cute red face I got to love - how can you argue with that?