The Old Dog
I don’t remember where I read this exactly, but I’ve never forgotten it since that day. There’s just something very sweet and kind about the whole thing that is really rather inspiring to read. To be brief, I love this little tale and I wanted to share it. Maybe because I love the breed or maybe something else entirely, but I’ve never been able to get it entirely out of my mind.
The email read: “12 year old female Finnish Spitz. Her time is nearly up. Very loving, gives kisses freely. Somebody please help this dog.”
I read that and it got to me. What reason did a loving 12 year old Finnish Spitz have for ending up in a shelter? Well, it wasn’t something that I could concentrate on because we can’t take the dog into our rescue. We had no room. As always, there is no room. I shook my head sadly but did not delete the post. She was a long way from here. Maybe there was a rescuer nearer that would take her, or she would get adopted… but she’s 12 years old.
It can be very hard to find a home for a dog that old – and there are a lot of younger ones who need our help just as badly, who would be easier to place. We would probably have her for a long time while others were put down waiting to come into rescue. But it’s not her fault she’s 12 and ended up in a shelter. Age should not be a penalty. I turned my computer off. I couldn’t think about it. We had no room for another dog of any age right now. Instead, I searched for ways to take this dog into rescue; to find someone who could help but met with no success.
And that night my sleep was ruined by an old dog that I had never met. In my dreams I saw a slightly heavy-bodied, feisty, and yet gentle dog, sitting in the middle of a gray concrete floor surrounded by a woven wire kennel. All around her were anxious, stressed dogs that paced, panted and barked for somebody to come and get them.
The old Finnish Spitz sat there trying to shut out the sounds and motion about her. Her tired head hung a bit low. In my sleep, she looked at my soul with patient eyes and spoke to me.
We had no room – and I pushed this dog out of my mind for a week as I kept busy with other aspects of the rescue, but still looked for ways to get this old dog out of the shelter. When night came and I fell asleep, the old dog was there sitting quietly in the kennel, waiting for me to fall asleep.
In the second week another message appeared on my computer. “Very sweet and loving Finnish Spitz. Gives kisses freely. Please somebody save her. She deserves better than to spend her last days in a shelter.”
I was beginning to dread going to bed because the old dog would be there waiting for me, staring at me… wouldn’t leave me alone. I tossed and turned in my warm and comfortable bed, and the old dog lay down on the hard concrete floor, panting lightly; watching me in my dreams as I slept.
“We have no room for you, old one.”
“Yes you do. I will stay at your home. I’m a good dog. I won’t cause trouble. Please. Come.”
“You’re very far away and I work every day. I can’t come to get you, old one.”
“Send someone. I am very good in the car. Please. Come for me .”
“My husband doesn’t want another foster dog in the house.”
“He will like me. I’m a good dog. You’ll see. Please. Come get me.”
“OK… I will talk to him.”
“So will I.”
And by chance, a friend ended up driving down to pick up two dogs and was destined to pass very near the shelter where the old Finnish Spitz waited. On her way back, she stopped at the shelter and brought the old one with her.
“I got the old dog – and guess what. She’s a he! He’s very sweet and loving. He rides extremely well in the car. He sat there with his head on my shoulder nearly the whole way, barking out commands and wanting to be petted. You should see his gorgeous face. Can you pick him up from my house after work?”
He had no collar, no leash, and no identification. He was a stray.
When we arrived home he walked into my house, looked around, and smiled up at me as though he knew me. He barked a few times and gave me that smile that told me he was happy to be here. His dark eyes were sunken into his head and they looked like the eyes of a dog that had been stressed for a long time. He was tired and he desperately needed to sleep. I led him to he crate that would be his and he understood. Without a sound, he walked into the crate, circled twice and laid down to rest. It was the first time in many weeks he would be sleeping on a thick wool blanket and in a quiet place. The dark eyes disappeared behind heavy eyelids in peaceful sleep.
And I slept peacefully too.