Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Putting My Words Where My Heart Is

October is National Shelter Dog Month. I didn't know that until just today. But the month didn't matter. I fell madly in love with a dog at our local shelter 10 days ago, and ended up bringing her home.

If you've read any of my books, or even the descriptions, you probably realize that dogs play a role in each and every one of them. (And this from a self-described cat person LOL.)

In my first book, Finding Chance (Mondo Publishing 2007) a girl named Alice finds a lost and hungry dog.  Here's a great illustration from that book, by talented artist Nancy Lane.

In The Horse Jar (Mondo Publishing 2009) a girl's hope and dreams and plans for a horse of her own become all tangled up, when an incident with her best friend's dog, a dachshund named Spunky, changes everything.

In The Girl Who Remembered Horse (Musa Publishing 2011) a horse novel set in the future, dogs are also figured prominently in the plot, and play an important role in society.

In my two most recent novels, a lost yellow Lab bring together two teenagers, and a character named Aunt Trudy volunteers at the animal shelter, and also raises a houseful of strays, including cats, dogs, and horses (Six Degrees of Lost  Musa Publishing 2012.)

My newest release, Walking the Dog (Musa Publishing 2012) is a story about two kids dealing with some very adult problems, and features therapy dogs, animal shelter dogs, and a special animal shelter cat.

I guess I put my words where my heart is. I feel strongly about rescuing animals. I have volunteered at our local shelter - walking dogs and petting cats - and somehow those experiences seem to sneak into my novels. With the thousands of homeless animals out there, waiting for their special someone, it breaks my heart to see puppies advertised for sale on Craig's List, when there are so many animals being put to sleep at shelters across the country. (Maybe would-be dog breeders should spend a week or two volunteering at their local shelter. It might open their eyes.)

But enough soap box from me. Because of an ad on Petfinder.com about a medium female retriever mix with this description: A sweet girl, brought in by animal control. She was just covered in fleas, poor thing, so we treated her right away. She is young, around 10 months, and deserves a home where she will be well cared for. - I stopped by the animal shelter on my way home from town.

As I entered the double doors where large dogs were barking loudly, I saw her huddled up on a thin yellow blanket. Behind a chain link gate, she shivered, scared out of her wits. She was smaller and more fine-boned than I had expected, and absolutely beautiful. As we slipped a leash on her and brought her out of the kennel and into a quieter room, she stopped shaking and looked into my eyes. As I stroked her soft coat and ears, her tail wagged slowly. I was smitten.

She had a three day waiting period at the shelter, to see if an owner came forward. No one did. Someone else had put a "pre-adopt" on this dog, but when the day came to pick her up, they didn't want her either. But it didn't matter. I knew she was mine from the moment I laid eyes on her. It was love at first sight. When the shelter called, I was up there as fast as I could drive.

Isn't she beautiful?

We named her Jessie.

Thinking about adopting a new pet? October is a good time. Make it a point to stop by your local shelter today. You just might fall in love, too.


Laura Marcella said...

Jessie is beautiful! I can't have pets in my apartment but adopting a dog is definitely in the plan whenever my husband and I get a house.

Anonymous said...

Jessie is gorgeous, Linda! I am a dogloving fanatic myself, so I completely understand!

Linda Benson said...

Laura - I hope you get to adopt a dog soon. Very worthwhile!

Linda U. - I know you are a dog lover, too, and have two sweet ones! Kisses to your pups. ;-)

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Oh! I've been hoping you were going to post pics since you left the story on my blog. She's GORGEOUS! Lucky, lucky girl.

Linda Benson said...

Thanks, Jaye. I feel very lucky to get this nice dog. I can't believe that no one would claim her, and I can't imagine what her life has been like before now. But she's a happy camper now, romping around with our old dog, adopted from the same shelter 8 years ago. ;-)

Nancy Lane said...

If I spend a day away from my dogs, I just don't feel right. My rescued dogs give us so much love and joy, and we happily give it right back to them. I always wonder how on earth someone could just walk away from these dogs. Your Jessie is one lucky girl!

Patricia said...

Oh my goodness, she's beautiful. How could anyone resist her? You've done a wonderful thing for her and for you by adopting her. Have fun!

Linda Benson said...

Nancy and Patti - Thanks for stopping by. One of the reasons I love my rescue animals (and I have both dogs and cats I've adopted from the pound) is that they really seem to appreciate a good home. Whether they were lost with no food for some time, or just cooped up in the cramped confines of a cage at the shelter, they know that you are their rescuer, and they always seem to give back the love ten-fold. It's a win-win situation. ;-)

Sharon Ledwith said...

OMG - Jessie's a doll! Karma rocks and you got what you deserved, Linda! I agree with you about breeders having to volunteer in animal shelters, they may think twice. Working in an animal shelter myself, I've seen people discard animals as if they were garbage. Like a said, karma rocks,and what you put out, comes back. Enjoy her!