September 7, 2013

North Cairn: May Sam live happily ever after

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She phoned me again a couple of days later, right after she had received the news that Sam was staying put in Branford, and asked me to pass along a message to the 85 people who contacted me to offer sanctuary for Sam, or a home, or leads on possible new owners.

"I am so grateful for the outpouring of love from all the people who wanted to help a wonderful girl with a beautiful spirit," Glankler said. "Even though she wasn't a purebred, even though she wasn't an American Kennel Club dog, we all recognized the depth of her heart.

"And I am so thankful," she said, "to the family who recognized her spirit and gave her a forever home."

Many people who contacted me about Sam said she had been "sent" to me for a reason, and I to her. I'm not entirely averse to projecting meaning where there may or may not be any, but I think Sam came to help me see how instinctive it is to love a dog, even when your heart is still aching for the one you've lost.

Sam came to my attention, I believe, so that she could survive the tough circumstances of her life till now and reach a different destination than death. She had been found down South in the middle of a road, perishing from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Rescued from that fate, she had spent some time with a foster caretaker before going to what was expected to be her permanent home. She lasted 17 days there and had to be moved again, when the owner experienced a medical crisis which made it impossible for her to provide an acceptable home.

During that time, Sam lost 20 of her 78 pounds.

At that point, Sam was sent north on a 20-hour transport to Maine, to me, as an emergency foster placement. She was not my first dog, but she was my first rescue. Not knowing exactly what to do for a down-on-her-luck dog, I did what I hoped might help: Made her a quilt bed with a thermal blanket for cool nights -- a gift that mostly seemed to confuse her, because she likely did not know anything about sleeping on a surface other than the ground or a concrete floor. I cooked for her every evening, which she heartily appreciated. I offered her Milk Bones and other treats, which again meant nothing to her. We got her weight and her mood up a bit.

But within a few days, it became clear that she would panic -- desperately -- if left alone at home. For Sam, it didn't matter that "indoors" was a big safe space. Without a human to keep her company, Sam experienced the house as a big locked box, a giant crate, another cage. But I could not be with her every minute of every day.

So Glankler resumed the search for another new home, better suited to Sam's particular history (as much as could be known) and her special need not to be left to her own devices, solo, indoors.

The rescue process, as has often been explained to me, takes whatever time it takes. It requires people who are willing to make the time and put in the scant effort needed to fill out an application. Rescue organizations, almost always overwhelmingly made up of volunteers, must check out applicants to try to be sure that orphaned or abandoned dogs (or cats, or other pets) are going to people who will be good to them and will introduce them to a life in which love and joy and safety replace the exhausting memory of mere survival and the predator-prey dynamic of taking care of yourself in the wild world.

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