Day Six brought a trip to the vet and the A OK for Cordelia to get a bath. This was a great boon for me, I’m not sure Cordelia felt the same way – at least initially. I think it had been a v e r y l o n g time since Cordelia had a bath. She smelled. The hair on her feet was yellowed from walking through urine in the pen with all those other dogs. She had been spayed prior to being released to Safe Hands so I’d had to wait. But Day 7 was the glorious day!
Yes, those eyes are heartbreaking aren’t they? My poor little drowned rat girl. She was a trooper though and took the bath well. Afterwards wrapped in a blanket she fell asleep on my lap. And I think when she woke up, even she realized how much better she felt all clean and new!
Can you even stand how adorable this face is? How much I wish Cordelia knew what a sweet girl she is and how much she is loved. Cordelia is still terrified. We are still at the beginning of Cordelia’s new beginning. By now I know this is how starts, this is how it is. I know progress starts out slowly, trust takes time, Cordelia has barely had time to decompress and stabilize.
The “right now” though is this – every time I enter the kitchen she cowers and looks away. Every time she does my heart breaks a little more for this timid little girl. She is begging for the Bad Things to be no more. She is afraid to believe they really are.
She really does WANT to be loved. She just can’t believe yet that she IS. I know this because if I approach slowly, carefully, without looking at her and lay down next to her she’ll let me. I can slip my hand under her chin, start rubbing her chest, scratching her ears and head. She’ll relax into it and eventually I’ll hear a really big sigh. If I stay that way long enough she’ll tumble off to sleep.
I watched her tonight as she slept and I wondered what her past life was like. Was she ever loved? Did she ever have a family that cherished her? Did she ever go for walks on sit on someone’s lap on the couch? Was she played with as a frisky pup? Where has her journey taken her? What has she seen along the way? I am sure I will never know. The truth is, wonder as I might, it doesn’t matter. What I do know is enough. What I do know is starting last Tuesday Cordelia is loved. Starting last Tuesday, Cordelia gets to start again.
I also know where to look for the little signs of encouragement and forward motion in the journey. Tonight, Cordelia learned that the bed is soft and warm and HERS. It took a little trust for her to let me put her gently in the bed and to sit there, at first tense and nervous, while I stroked her ears and head. I could feel her start to relax and I swear I could see the moment she gave in to the pleasure of being snug and cozy in the velvety goodness.
So today Cordelia learned that this good thing is all hers and she likes it. I’ll take that.
Cordelia has a ways to go…but she’s going to get there. What we’ve learned so far – Cordelia likes to be loved. The world is still big and scary. Loud noises are no fun. Bright blankie is the safest place to be. Pretty plush new bed is a foreign concept. Same for toys. But in spite of it all, Cordelia likes to have her head rubbed, her ears scratched or her side softly stroked. She’ll even fall asleep to it.
This morning as I left the house I selected a pretty plush new bed in dusty rose and cream and one of my favorite puppy blankets. The blanket is warm and soft in bright colors and was handmade with much love by a Safe Hands supporter. As I choose these items specially for Cordelia I thought, today, maybe for the first time, Cordelia will be loved.
Cordelia came from one of those situations we hear about all too much these days – a case of way too many dogs living in inappropriate conditions. Like many such cases, this is one where good intentions went awry and one dog led to another led to 70 small breed dogs living in one home with one couple. But that was behind her now. Cordelia was on her way to a new life. I was picking her up after work and she would become our newest Safe Hand’s kid.
Finally the time arrived for Cordelia and I to meet. I took the skinny, shaking dog, wrapped her in the blanket and carried her away. As we drove home together I spoke gently and told her that it was going to be OK now. I told her that I knew it was all scary right now. I told her that although she didn’t know it yet, her whole world just changed. I told her that it all starts over today. I told her that starting today, she is loved.
Like most dogs that come from these circumstances Cordelia has some residual emotional baggage. Cordelia will need lots of encouragement and love to leave that behind. Today though, Cordelia begins to heal. Starting today, Cordelia is loved.
THANK YOU! Big thanks to all those who contributed to our Chip In. We reached our goal and we are Harlan Bound. Tomorrow am, bright and early. There is so much to do in the next 21 hours…
Pictured above is Ryder Lee – he is one of the many dogs and pups that will get to come home with us thanks to all of you!
We are still looking for foster homes – if you think you have it in your heart and home to help a homeless dog for a little while please let us know. You can fill out the foster application on the website – www.safehandsrescue.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Here are a few more kids hoping someone will be open to giving them a helping hand!
|Roxie – about 40 – 45 pounds – loves everyone and good with other dogs!|
|PUPPIES! A girl and a boy – looking for a new start to life.|
|These girls would love to find families to call their own.|
|This brother and sister are hoping for a ticket to ride the freedom train!|
|These girls were left on the mountain to fend for themselves or die. Super skinny when found and brought to the shelter. I would love to show them love, kindness and a better life.|
|Goldberg & Biscuit wait for rescue Oct 2006|
I find myself contemplating the Safe Hands journey and story as we approach our four year anniversary next week – October 7th. Our journey, the Safe Hands journey, began with a vision to save a few doomed dogs in a small, rural county shelter. Little did we know over a thousand more would follow. Our journey and our story are told in their voices.
|Chance at arrival in Minneapolis|