The phone call came from one of our truck drivers, a man who was a graduate of our program. A man with a long history of addiction.
“We heard a sound from a box behind store 7 (one of our Family Stores in our county). There’s a puppy in it. Can we keep him?”
We’ve heard the saying that a dog is man’s best friend. I grew up in an animal loving, particularly dog loving home. Daddy brought them home, mama took care of them.
I married a dog lover and we raised two children who are dog-lovers.
The friendship these loyal animals provide is unmistakable. They run to the door when they hear the sound of his car rounding the corner. They wait with wagging tail to greet him with paws and, sometimes, pee. Not on purpose, mind you. They’re just so excited they can’t hold it all in.
They cower at his scolding voice, sometimes sulking, only too ready to sidle up to him when he calls.
Dogs give unconditional love.
*Disclaimer: If you’re a cat lover, you can write about that. While we’ve had many different pets in my childhood home (including a couple of monkey’s and a raccoon) dogs were the mainstay and the ones I know most about.
We do, however, have a cat taken in by the men too. They named her Sally because she lives with them at the Salvation Army.
Henry had been taking our dog to the office every day. This dog, a mutt from the pound, was the best tempered dog we’ve had. Ever. His looks were a cross between Marmaduke from the comics and a German Shephard. His temperament, all Marmaduke. He was big, with a scary, deep bark, but what he wanted most was to jump up and lick everyone. He could put his front paws on the shoulder of a 6 foot man and nearly look him in the eye. Then lick him all over his face.
Tripp quickly became an unofficial therapy dog.
Now we had this tiny puppy and 100 men all eager to be his friend, trainer and feed him scraps they sneaked out of the dining room. This could be trouble.
We decided to bring the puppy home with us at night and on weekends and let our dog, with some help from us, train the new pup. We’d train the men at the same time.
The puppy was named Noah, because he lived at the ARC.
That was 8 years ago. Tripp lived to be 13 and we’ve been without his teeth chattering during thunder storms and his loving eyes for 2 years.
But there’s a new puppy to be Noah’s friend and for the men to love. Another dog found abandoned behind another store. Maybe people know we help the lost and just like many of our men, we took in this new puppy too.
She’s friendlier than Noah, mostly black with a tuft of white on her chest. She’s leggy and we think she must have some Lab in her. She’s been welcomed by Noah and Sally the cat, the staff and, most especially, our residents who need this kind of friend.
Her wagging tail will bring a spot of refreshment to their long day. She will play with them regardless of their background. She won’t discriminate in any way. When their days are hard, frustrating and defeat feels close, she’s there with her gentle spirit offering a welcoming paw.
We named her Grace.