“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
My love of animals started at a young age when I climbed over a fence to save a little baby rabbit who was being pecked to death by a pack of chickens. After being pecked myself, I rescued the little guy and brought him back to my family’s campsite. I stayed up all night trying to save him. My mom and I used a dropper to feed him warm milk every few hours, but he didn’t make it. My heart was broken.
Today my heart hurts nearly every day when I see pictures and read stories about animals that have been brutalized, neglected and treated inhumanely by humans. My sadness is compounded when I hear about all the sweet, loving, wonderful animals that are put to death each day in high kill shelters across the country. Often there is nothing “wrong” with these animals; their only sin is trusting in their human companions to care for them.
I first became aware of animal rescue when I adopted my Cairn Terrier, Scottie, from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. I had gone to the shelter to donate items that I had for my cat, Sam, whom I had rescued. I decided upon Sam’s death from cancer, that I should steer clear of having any more cats in my home due to my severe allergies. When I went to the shelter, I fell in love with little Scottie. A family had had two Cairn Terriers who were both five years old. They decided that because their boys were now older, they no longer had any use for the dogs, so they dropped them off at the shelter. When I arrived, Scottie’s brother had been adopted, but little Scottie was sitting there in a cage on a concrete floor all alone. His fur was badly matted, he needed a bath and, more importantly, he needed love. I spent five minutes in a private room with him and decided I couldn’t leave without him. I already had a puppy mill dog (Brandi, a Westie) at home so he was the perfect black complement to her white.
After Brandi died at 15 and Scottie at 17, I was a bit lost. My dogs were such an integral part of my life; their loss was very painful. At first I decided to just volunteer with a local animal rescue organization, helping at adoption events, conducting home visits and being a foster mom. I wasn’t ready for another dog in my life, but still wanted to help other dogs find their forever homes. While I thought I could just help and not get attached, I should have known better. I was a foster failure
times two. Little Jake and Edward came into my life as my foster dogs and I just could not let them go. They have been with me now for three years and are the most loving and sweet dogs with whom I have ever shared my life. Jake is a Chug (Chihuahua-Pug mix) and Edward (aka Eddie) is a full blown Chihuahua.
A year or so after adopting Jake and Eddie, I started to become involved in animal transport. Transports are amazing, as are the people involved in them. I am always overwhelmed with emotion every time I see the dedication, love and compassion of the people who spend their weekends transporting animals. They truly are angels on earth—saving lives and dedicating their time, money, hearts and souls to the cause. On one of my recent transport efforts, I over-nighted three dogs and drove them from Fairfax to Baltimore the next day. One of those dogs was Duke, a Chiweenie (Chihuahua-Dachshund mix). I fell in love with the little guy. The next day when I had to drive little Duke to the next leg of the transport, I cried and cried, and cried some more. My heart was again broken as I had to let little Duke go on his way all the way up to Albany, NY to an organization that had paid for his rescue. I immediately called the coordinator and started to work on adopting the little guy. A few weeks later, Jake, Eddie and I make the trek up to NY to pick-up little Duke and bring him home. He is now at home with us and we are one happy family!
Little Duke will join Jake, Eddie and me on the Fashion for Paws runway, April 12, 2014 to support the great work of the Washington Humane Society. I am super excited about our fundraising efforts and am passionate about placing in the Top Three to represent those of us who work tirelessly year round to save the lives of animals.
With love for our furry friends!
It’s not too late to secure your spot for Fashion for Paws. Purchase your tickets at www.fashionforpaws.org.
If you have room in your heart, consider adopting an animal in need. You can see everyone looking for their forever home at www.washhumane.org/adopt.