Goldberg & Biscuit wait for rescue Oct 2006
Voices & the Journey
There is a Native American Proverb that says:  It takes a thousand voices to tell one story.  We’ve all heard that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

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. 

There are SO MANY truly great dogs who didn’t stand a chance but defied the odds and are now loved, cherished, integral members of their own families.  Dogs like Goldberg who started it all, Chance who saved Barb from a charging dog and won a chance himself, Charles Wallace Martin III of the Walmart Parking Lot and amazing Two Tone Larry the Tough who arrived with a broken body but not a broken spirit.  Each has their own story to tell.

Chance at arrival in Minneapolis
These kids have been given the gift of life and they have given the gift of joy to the lives of the people who have helped them and who brought them Home.  There is nothing like seeing our “kids” happy, healthy, luminescent, adoring and adored.  It is the best feeling in the world.  It is a rush better than any drug.  It makes you feel like your heart might burst wide open and that you are floating on air.  These are the stories that keep us going.  This keeps us doing what we do.  Knowing the difference we can make.  Joy.  Life.
Moving forward, looking back
I am often so caught up, moving forward so fast that I don’t find time to reflect, to share the stories with you as I should.  My very wise friend Laura Gonzo wrote these words once, “Instead of looking up the mountain at the terrain you have yet to cover, try to see behind you to all of the lives you have saved, the lives you have tried to save, and the innumerable lives you have touched.” 
Indeed, we need to remember the lives that we have touched and that have touched ours.  It is the success stories that bring tears of joy, that motivate us and keep us going.  It is seeing Shug, left behind in the shelter, head hanging low, eyes lost and then seeing her smiling, bouncy, happy and loved with a family of her own and a place called Home.  It is seeing the young puppies like Tulip, Rosie & Aurora, so full of life, energy and promise, big eyes and bubbly spirits.  It is preserving their innocence and zest for life by providing a place along the way to that place called Home.  It is taking in baby boy Griffen who was shot clean through and left for dead on the side of the mountain and seeing him now the love of his new parent’s lives, happy, healthy, Home
Shug in Shelter
Shug – now Goose – today

“The number is unknowable, but I assure each of you that it is profound and it is precious beyond words.”
  
Tonight I do have a number to share though.  And that number is 1135.  This is the number of dogs that have passed through our hands so far.  Over one thousand sweet souls have been given an opportunity to live.  Over one thousand dogs feeling the sunshine, the grass under their feet, running, playing, loving and being loved.  It is difficult to comprehend and it is truly precious beyond words. 
Individually, we are one drop.  Together, we are an ocean. .  – Ryunosuke Satoro 
Together we are ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things.  A total of over 5500 dogs have gotten out of the shelter, into rescues and into homes thanks to the efforts of this team of people.  We have taken action and that action has enriched the lives of over 5500 dogs and an innumerable amount of people.    Many of us once strangers, we are united for a cause and ideal that we believe in and hold dear.  I am so proud of our family and I hope you are too.  We have helped provide hope and a measure of optimism to people and animals in a community that previously had very little.  Collectively we have made a difference.
Shelter stats
In addition to the dogs we have brought out of the shelter and into homes there have been great changes at the shelter too.  Many of you will remember that when we started working with Harlan they did not have a washer and dryer at the shelter so the dogs could not have blankets to lie on.  They do now.  While there were windows, there were no lights in the back of the shelter.  There are now.  There was no room for small puppies to be kept separate and safe.  There is now.  The ACO then did not have a vision to create a better future for the animals of Harlan County.  The new ACO does. 
We have been able to help bring Woodstock Animal Foundation to Harlan County to offer low cost spay and neuter.  So far over 2000 animals have benefited from those services.  The county government has seen the improvements at the shelter and the effort that Safe Hands, Starfish Rescue and shelter staff put into saving lives and they have joined in the crusade.  They have dedicated resources to improving conditions and circumstances at the shelter and to support the rescue efforts.  The shelter was just awarded a state grant for a new heating, cooling and air exchange system that should dramatically cut down on illness in the shelter. 
All Terrain Vehicle
So yes, we can look up the mountain, and there is a lot more terrain to cover, many more dogs waiting for their chance to be saved.  We know we can all make a difference in some way.  We all have choices to make, we can choose to lament and wring our hands or we can choose to act.  We can choose to do nothing or we can choose to build.  This group is made of builders and doers. 
Harlan bound so they are homeward bound
And so both looking forward and looking back we find ourselves preparing to embark on a trip back to where it all began.  It is time for our fall trip to Harlan.  It’s time for us to stand in the shelter, breathe in the Kentucky air, roll up our sleeves and get to work.  However, our trip is in jeopardy.  Safe Hands has always believed in doing all we can to heal the dogs and pups in our care.  We have also been unable to avert our eyes or hold back our hands from dogs suffering physical wounds in the shelter.  This year we have had a phenomenal amount of medical bills to heal broken legs and hips, amputated damaged tails, cure heartworm disease and parvo.  Sometimes, usually actually, we win.  Sometimes, we don’t.  We give each one the best chance they can have.  But this comes at a cost.
We need your help…
Last week, we spent our saved up “trip money” trying to save a dog that in the end we could not save.  This alone was devastating.  If we are unable to make our trip and unable to save the dogs we would bring back it will be even more devastating.  So once again, we are asking for your help.  If you believe in the mission of Safe Hands Rescue and the work we do to save the dogs of Harlan and to help the community there please contribute to our trip Chip In.  Any amount helps.  The chip in is posted on the top right side of this blog!
If you are comfortable please post on your Facebook pages or forward along.
Additionally the mailing address is:
Safe Hands Animal Rescue
PO Box 19623
Minneapolis, MN  55419
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done so far.  We hope to earn your continued support as we move forward to save more lives.
Lynne Bengtson, Co-Founder Safe Hands Animal Rescue
On behalf of all the dogs and pups!

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