As a former volunteer and current employee of Pawmetto Lifeline, I have gotten the chance to spend time with hundreds of wonderful pets. I’ve cried over their individual stories of abuse and neglect, and cheered when they have been adopted into loving homes. I expected to fall in love with each one and want to take them home with me. But my heart was especially touched by a long-time resident, and it has forever changed my life.
Bruce, a lab/pit bull mix, was rescued as a tiny puppy from the Richland County Animal Shelter at the end of 2012. He came to Pawmetto Lifeline with kennel cough and several spots of mange around his face. After spending a few weeks in foster care while he healed, he was placed on Adoption Row to await a permanent home.
I immediately fell in love with this playful, affectionate little boy, and spent time with him every day for weeks as I waited to see who would be lucky enough to welcome him into their family. A month passed, then two, as other puppies and dogs found homes while, despite his hardest efforts, he was overlooked. Black dogs, especially those that are “bully breeds” or mixes, are often the most difficult breeds to place. My 8-year old black lab/German shepherd mix, Tessa Rose, was also a longer-term resident of a shelter, and my heart went out to Bruce.
Finally, our in-house veterinarian recommended that we find a foster home for Bruce so that he could learn how to be part of a family as we continued to market him for adoption. I took him home on April 16, when he was six and half months old. My husband and I were smitten with him right away, and although it took a little longer for Tessa to warm up, we knew he would never leave our home. We became “foster failures” and applied to adopt him within the week.
Today, Bruce is a puppy school graduate, soccer player, and burgeoning runner, as well as a counter- surfer, hat stealer, and Tessa-annoyer. He has integrated perfectly into our family, and we can’t imagine life without him. Like Tessa, he seems truly grateful to have found a home. He regularly shows his affection, and we could not be happier. It is often said that it is the pet that “rescues” the owner, and I identify fully with this statement.
Bruce has added much richness and happiness to the lives of each member of our family, and we feel as if we are the “lucky” ones. For every story like this with a happy ending, there are thousands of other homeless pets in the midlands that are not so lucky. We need to combine our efforts and make our voices heard to end pet overpopulation and reduce the number of pets euthanized in our community. Dogs and cats can’t speak for themselves. If you can help just one by adopting, not buying or breeding, you will be part of the solution.
by: Elisa Strickler, Director of Volunteer Programs, Pawmetto Lifeline