Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

Serving the God of Small Things

"Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"

So said Jesus about clothing and feeding the hungry, the poor, the powerless.

Do you see why, when we turn our attention away from the self-righteous pimps of the radical right that Jesus still has so much to say to us? I will never tire of his essential message, and I will never understand why his so-called followers insist upon distorting his teachings into bullshit like prosperity gospels, rapture readiness, and grand plans for Christian reconstruction governance.

Oh, for Pete's sake... here I was, about to write about a recent humbling experience, and instead, off I go like the arrogant asshole I also can be (shove over, Jerry Falwell,) saying essentially that my Jesus can beat up their Jesus.

In fact, what I really wanted to talk about today is one of the many opportunities I have to be taken down a notch, often ever so kindly. This particular lesson began when my very good friend, Robin, invited me to something called a shih tzu/fur baby reunion. Robin has four Pomeranians and is involved in animal rescue, so I knew that this would be a gathering of critter lovers, and in Florida, too. "Bruce won't go," she said, referring to her husband, who dropped out of consideration when he heard that the gala would involve coordinating his clothing with that of his adopted doggies, a sort of costume ball.

"So you're going, OK? I'm getting your ticket," she said quickly, not really waiting for an answer. Robin moved to Massachusetts two years ago, so she knows I don't pass up chances to hang out with her, and I don't care what we're wearing, although in my case I hoped a simple dress would be sufficient.

As the day drew near I found myself contemplating the snort-worthy outfits that I've seen on some small dogs. (My own dog is a lab, and her only garment is the hunter's orange vest I make her wear when sportsmen and goons alike take to the Vermont hills in the fall. She otherwise goes nekkid, except for the obligatory collar and tag.) So hula skirts and tiaras bring out the snotty little sociologist in me. WHO would buy that shit, I ask myself, and prepare myself for the worst.

Off we went, and beyond the ludicrous little palace style beds available to the Pomeranian princesses (and their tiny counterparts of other breeds), I bumped once again into that humbling reality: service. It's nearly impossible to look down on good old, from-the-heart service to others.

I learned that the head of this particular group, the First Coast Shih Tzu and Furbaby Animal Rescue League is run by a dynamo named Meredith Coley who once worked in child adoption, and she brings her determination to find good homes for her little charges to the current assignment. Under her leadership the group has found over 2500 homes for dogs in the past 10 years, a process that often begins with foster placement and sometimes culminates only after a thousand-mile drive by one of the group's volunteers. Along with the fostering and driving there are the home visits so that the dog gets a good placement--this time.

The dogs come with a variety of stories. Some were adopted as puppies, and then given up because they dug, or chewed, or did some other typically puppy thing. There are the dogs displaced by hurricanes, and dogs that lost their owners to illness and death. Sometimes they've been seized in animal neglect and abuse cases and must wait in foster care while the wheels of justice turn. Sometimes they're found trotting along the side of the road. One of Robin's dogs was abandoned because he had cancer in one leg. All too often they are the victims of puppy mills. In many cases many require extensive veterinary care and loads of affection and gentle discipline to banish whatever ghosts and parasites lurk still. The foster homes do wonderful things with these little guys, as do the adoptive owners.

I expected a bunch of yappy dogs, absurdly dressed by people who Didn't Have a Life. What I found were dogs who got along with one another beautifully, tenderly cared for by people who were taking these little dogs into their lives. I even came to see the occasional hula skirt as a tender honoring of little bodies that had previously been abused. (My Maddie-dog, however, won't be getting any outfits soon.)

I've posted the picture of Jasper, a silky terrier who is still in foster care with a wonderful couple in St. Augustine. I'm amazed to see that he still hasn't been adopted. You wouldn't believe what a sweet dog he is, or how beautiful that coat of his is. If Maddie-dog and our three cats wouldn't object so strenuously (Jasper isn't great with cats), I'd bring him here. I know that Peter or Sean, or one of the other volunteers, would probably drive him up here, a thousand miles away, just to make sure that Jasper would be in a loving home.

When we visited Meredith at her home, her phone rang constantly. I saw the huge folder of vet bills that went with getting these little dogs on their way. Sometimes people are put off by the demands put on would-be adopters as to what the dogs will need, but Meredith and her associates are determined to make matches that will work.

The details are many. And God is in the details.





Comments:
I'm a cat person.
 
I was too, till I met Sula, my mate's dog. Then I fell hard. When she passed on, along came my yellow lab, a more informal rescue situation. She's great with the cats and actually breaks up their spats. She is also a wonderful scullery dog. So now I'm just a critter person.

I also like people a lot, most of the time.
 
Great blog! More info about aftershave - http://aftershave.thelineone.com/ocean-pacific-aftershave.html
 
Wow! We can shave all the little dogs! Thanks so much for writing! I'm desperate for non-readers like you!
 
I smell the coming of word verification.
 
Not for a while. I'm waiting for a penis enlarger blog or something really special.
 
you know, cat lovers should be able to appreciate animal rescue stories too.
 
Ok..as a cat lover I love this..because I am also a dog lover/rescuer. I guess you now understand why I have 8 cats and 3 dogs. All but one cat and one dog were rescues.My problem is, when someone wants one..I can't give it up..I am afraid they won't love them as much as we do and make sure they get their meds'...damn things are expensive..but I just can't part with any. I fear we will have to move into a bigger house..and I would then have to kill the ball and chain because he won't move..

therein lies my problem :p
 
You sound like my buddy Robin, who refers to herself as a foster failure. They have four.

I just want Maddie-dog to get her due in our house, so we just have her and the 3 cats.
 
in my case, foster failure let to full on, 501(c)3 rabbit rescue. 22 rabbits in the house at one time. vet bills were ginormous, especially since the critters are considered "exotics".

for all the failed fosters out there, i'd recommend a three-pronged approach: adopt them out with a fee (people tend to take better care of animals that aren't free), do a house check, and make 'em sign a contract saying that if they don't want the pet anymore, they'll give 'em back (no refunds) instead of dumping them. just my 2 cents. :)
 
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