The pictures come in from the shelter as they always do and as always they catch in my throat and heart. The faces of the hopeful and the hopeless, some are happy – they have not figured out yet what’s going on. Not Dixy, she looks off at something just right of the camera. Her eyes say that she has given up, she expects nothing, there is immense sadness. Her body is hard to see, skin covering bones. It’s easy to see why she has lost the faith.
We have a lot of dogs in the rescue, we don’t have a plethora of open foster homes. I try to let it go. I know we can’t save them all. But I am drawn back to that picture over and over like a record stuck on repeat or Groundhog’s Day. I post her and a few other kids on our Facebook page and I send an email. It’s a holiday weekend, it’s a tough time to ask, and the response is low. There is nothing for Dixy and again, I try to let it go. It’s a fine art, letting go. It’s one I can’t say I’ve mastered.
Then, momma Kristene emails, she says “send me Dixy” and I am overwhelmed with gratitude and relief. We can’t save them all. But we will save this one. And so we wait, anxiously, for her arrival.
Last night as we unloaded the dogs from the van I am looking for her. Waiting for her. And then, I find her, a whisper of herself. She looks up at me with the biggest chocolate brown liquid eyes I have ever seen. She searches my face, unsure. She is resigned to whatever comes next, she just looks for a sign to prepare for whatever it might be. I search her face, trying to prepare myself as well. I slip the lead over her head and she gently gets up and slowly walks out. The photos were bad, but I was still not ready for the reality. The primate in me wants to hug her but every bone juts out and I am afraid she’d break. The dog trainer in me knows that hugs aren’t what dogs want. She lets me cup her chin in my hands, she rests her head and closes her eyes while I caress her and choking back tears I say, “welcome home baby, it gets better now, I promise”. She lets me kiss her head and then I hand her off to momma Kristene.
Dixy arrived dirty, bedraggled, without any expectations. She is a whisper of herself in both body and spirit. Dixy is now clean, eating small meals every four hours, appreciating all she’s been given but still not sure this is real. She is kind, gentle, sweet. She makes sure she is no trouble. She wants to make friends with her canine foster siblings but she’s just a little bashful about it, not quite sure they will like her back. Last night Dixy started a new life and she’s got a new name to go along with it. Faith. Because foster momma Kristene is determined she will restore her faith. I have no doubt that she will. Today, Faith may be a whisper of herself, but our family knows how to change that. We will restore her body and her spirit. I can’t wait to see Faith sparkle and shine. I know she will. This is real Faith baby, this is real.