In 2002, my husband and I were animal rescue volunteers who often helped drive rescue transports. These are relay trains of volunteers who drive segments of longer trips, in order to remove animals from kill shelters and deliver them to rescues, often many hundreds of miles away.. One of our other volunteer activities was to scan on-line photos of shelter dogs and alert breed rescues to the presence of "their" breed, especially in high kill shelters. One day, I was scanning photos for the Memphis Shelter and happened upon the picture below.
She was no special breed and at an awkward age, but the look on this young dog's face absolutely haunted me. After a brief (God love him) discussion with my husband, we decided to have her "pulled" from the shelter. We worked with Responsible Animal Owners of TN to have her removed from the shelter and spayed, and then with a transport group to arrange the logistics of getting her home, which was then to Northern VA. We met the last driver in Roanoke and drove the last two legs to bring her home. She is the middle dog in the photo, shown at the pickup point in Roanoke and was about 5 months old.
Shandy had a rough start. She'd contracted kennel cough in TN that quickly turned into pneumonia. It took us nearly a week to even get her to eat. We discovered that she was terrified of lots of things and was a nervous wetter, wetting in dozens of spots around the house in an effort to avoid detection. She had been badly handled and it took us about 6 months to truly housebreak her. But this ungainly, anxious little dog turned into an epic beauty. She matured into a dog that people oohed and ahhhed over because of her exotic good looks. She was gentle enough to be trustworthy around bunnies, small children and chicks. Though still a little timid, she was the official family greeter, and whenever I came in the door, she went into a pyrotechnic spin of jubilation. In our back yard she was "jungle dog", exploring the long grass but always returning for reassurance. And she retained her terror of thunderstorms and loud noises, and some other strange things like cameras. This was ultimately her undoing.
Shandy was a beloved member of our family. For seven years, she repaid us every day for having spotted her in that shelter, where she certainly would have died. Our household is a lot emptier and her best dog friend, Jack (rescued when he was out of time at the Westmoreland Shelter), still misses her.
In all of my calls and visits to shelters over the week, I have looked at these animals and asked the same questions: Where are their people? Is someone looking for them? And if the answer to the last question is "no," doesn't anyone see how special they are?
We want to sincerely thank the many people who helped us in our search, the folks who sent us messages, and those who simply wished us well. We have learned a lot of things in the last two weeks and one of them is how giving and gracious the people of Southside are. I do want to ask everyone one favor, though. The next time you see a loose dog standing by the side of the road who is looking lost and confused, please stop. You may be what they need in their lives at that moment, more than anything or anyone else in the world. If you are right, and you stopped because you read this, Shandy will have accomplished one last good thing.
Thank you for all for caring, and for allowing us to share.