I take prayer very seriously because it’s been my experience that prayers are answered.
I don’t pray for inconsequential things like parking spaces, or sunshine on the day that I have a picnic planned.
Since last Saturday I have been praying with a purpose for two friends I met who instantly touched my life.
Thought that this was a garden blog, didn’t you? Please read on.
I was also touched by the many responses I received to a blog I wrote in April, about dogs in the garden in general, and the particular personal loss of my canine gardening companion Sally. In my life, gardens and dogs, especially dogs blessed to be Golden Retrievers, are indivisible.
To those of you kind enough to grieve with me over Sally’s death, I am happy to report that another Golden girl has become the latest link in the chain of these amazing animals who have graced and given to our lives over the last thirty plus years.
Ten days ago we welcomed into our family five year old P.S. I Love You, whom we have nicknamed Eudora as her arrival coincided with a frenzy of activity surrounding Susan Haltom’s visit to Birmingham to lecture on her restoration of Eudora Welty’s garden.
Eudora missed her plane that Thursday and eventually arrived from Princeton, New Jersey, the day after Susan’s fascinating talk, right in the middle of a dinner we were hosting for the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. My husband borrowed a truck to haul the large crate so Miss Eudora made her Alabama debut in suitable Southern style riding shotgun in a pick up.
In answer to a question I’ve been asked so many times that I’ve thought about inventing multiple answers to relieve the monotony, why would a woman who champions Birmingham’s recently organized (and WELL organized) Adopt-a-Golden Birmingham Rescue buy a dog from a breeder in New Jersey?
Because I own a Golden named Sunshine who has a most atypical Golden personality. Sunshine can be downright snarly with other dogs. She has to be the leader of our house’s pack of two. In finding Sunshine a sister, I had to have another Sally, a dog with a known quantity personality who would tolerate being bossed around without becoming a whipping post.
Sunshine’s mourning over Sally was a wrenching thing to watch. We honestly didn’t know how she would react to another dog. We knew that the option to return the dog had to be on the plate. The concept of bringing a dog who was up for adoption because of some kind of trauma, whether it be abuse, neglect, or loss of owner because of personal change in situation was not a viable option. I knew that I could, albeit awash in tears, return a dog to a breeder if I had to. I don’t think that I could have survived telling a rescue to get back on the list of hopeful candidates for adoption.
I did a lot of praying while Eudora was flying south, and the fact that Sunshine immediately greeted her with wagging tail and an offer to share her toys is pretty good proof that prayer works.
Bringing me to my two friends Gabe and Harley. Eudora and I had the immense pleasure of spending two hours with this pair when we worked in the Adopt-a-Golden booth at Do Dah Day.
They were like their own PR team with everyone who stopped by our booth. Wags, licks, every trick in the book to convince someone to give them a home. While Gabe, who is THE most beautiful Golden I’ve ever seen in more than thirty years of working with this breed, had my whole head soaking wet from sloppy kisses, when a small child approached he very politely tapped her face with the tip of his tongue. Gentle giant who would make for some little girl that childhood pet she so loves that she will remember him into old age.
Gabe’s bonded companion, Harley, is as sweet as the tea my grandmother used to serve. She’s a small Lab mix, also incredibly attuned to children. A little on the shy side, she reminded me of a politician’s wife hovering a bit in the back ground as the candidate slaps backs and gives a rousing speech. Gabe didn’t just greet people, he openly asked for someone to vote the two of them into their family.
Before the story of how these incredible animals found themselves in a rescue program, a word about some of the misconceptions regarding rescue dogs. Not by a long shot have all been victims of abuse, in many cases they have lost perfectly loving homes because of changes in owner circumstance—a transfer out of town, a divorce, a child who proves to be highly allergic to animals, the tragedy of foreclosure. As victims of circumstance, they are SO ready to segue into a new situation, no questions asked.
In more cases than not, rescues are owner issue related. Many of the Goldens who are surrendered to rescues around the country are suffering from heartworms, treatable but at great expense. Thanks to donations to Adopt-a-Golden Birmingham, the program covers the cost of treatment, and after return to health these dogs are imminently adoptable. Hopefully to good homes with owners responsible enough to provide one simple, and affordable, pill a month to prevent heartworms.
Certainly some dogs are surrendered to rescue because of behavioral issues, but let’s question whose behavior is at fault. In one case, the owner gave up the dog because she complained that it had a terrible habit—the dog liked to dig.
Tell me that’s not an ignorant owner rather than an innocent dog problem?!
Watching Gabe and Harley, so enthusiastically, so joyously working to sell themselves, I had to consider the indomitability of those canine spirits, their can-do, never-give-up hope attitudes.
Gabe and Harley came to Adopt-a-Golden through the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. They were delivered there by a company called to “pick up junk” by a couple getting a divorce.
Tossed out like trash, “just junk,” and yet they still so obviously believe, in each other and in us too fallible humans.
Sure there are large issues out there, like world peace and too much suffering humanity, that are deserving of all of the prayers we can generate. I don’t feel one bit guilty asking for a few minutes at God’s ear asking for help in finding the perfect home for Gabe and Harley. The grace, and the stubborn refusal to give up on giving joy, is God given. Mankind failed them terribly, but they are oh so eager to give us another shot.
Gabe and Harley, like all of the adoptees available on the Adoptagoldenbirmingham.com website are spayed and neutered and up to date on all vaccines.
You are out there, lucky family whose children will grow up with these perfect companions, I know that you are.
I am praying for you to read this.
To adopt, volunteer or donate to Adopt-a-Golden Birmingham, a 501 (c) (3) tax deductible organization, visit the website at adoptagoldenbirmingham.com.