Death-Row Dogs

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Apart from the people he scares when he shrieks at their dogs when we drive past them on the street, my doggy is a well-liked and well-behaved boy. (Well, notwithstanding the Indian guys in the house on my block who are scared of him but want to like him, if only they could overcome their fear). At doggy changeover the other night, Mark and I were saying that Lester has had the most wonderful sort of a life.

Still, I think it's the life that any doggy should have.

Lester was a pound dog. When we went to the Keysborough Animal Shelter to get a pooch, he was one of the dogs we were shown. Had been on death row twice but the vet had seen potential in him and taken him off again in hope.

He'd been at the shelter for three months by the time we saw him in 2000. We took him out of his concrete pen and into the grassy closed off area reserved for getting to know a dog a bit better. Took him off his leash and oooh, yeah. Had a bit of nuts about him, that's for sure.

He was a bit of a risk, I guess. And we were warned; he had a fair bit of energy. I had chronic fatigue syndrome. He was maybe not the best sort of dog for people who'd never had one before, they suggested. But that was okay. We were dog lovers, had both had dogs all our lives. We could take him on. We had a tennis raquet and a big backyard when walks were not possible. It was doable.

He wasn't trained, no. Not in anything. Not in how to be in a car, so Mark had to sit in the back with him on the way home. Not in how to sit. Not in how to not eat Mark's dinner. Not in how to walk on a leash. Not in how to not eat Mark's shoe, nor to not shit inside. Not in how the wrongness of removing a pillow from inside, taking it outside and ripping it up so that the shredded feathers inside cascaded all over the backyard.

"We've got the wrong dog" I groaned at the end of the weekend.

But that's the last time I ever said that. All he needed was some training, some loving, some walking. He was very teachable. And he's had a very good doggy life since then.

I cry every time the Pal dog food ad comes on. The dog in the concrete shelter looking woefully at the people who wouldn't buy him. There is something wrong, I suppose, that I tear up more quickly at abandoned and unhoused dogs than I do at stories involving humans.

They're just so unconditional, dogs, that's all. There's a purity about them that is hidden in humans.

Still, I think humans, in our individual concrete shelters of our own selves, are just as lovable to God as dogs are to us. Despite our horrid evil shitnesses. Despite the evil that is committed by evil people on other evil people. Despite the bloody mess that is the world as we know it.

The human race is designed and destined for green fields. I do so believe that. In ages to come. Not just for the people who get it right, who are white, male and Christian. I do not think God will stop until the last person has allowed him to love them into life. The cross whispers that in this age. Perhaps it will scream it in the next.

Next time I get a dog, I think I might get me two :)


  1. There's a lady here who rescues dogs from death row and rehabilitates them. She saw something in them of promise and they came through splendidly. They get adopted into the right families.
    The shelter where I got my two Persians often has to get their kittehs considerable medical attention. My Humphrey had eye surgery, for example. These dogs and cats are doubly rescued.
    If you are up to it, I hope you do adopt two next time around. The animals do appreciate it -- they really do.

  2. D - O - G

    G - O - D

    need i say more? lovin' on lester. i doubt if it gets much better than that!!!

  3. gorgeous, Lester. He was very lucky to have found you and Mark that day!
    And I agree..we are all meant to run through green fields and I love the thought of Jesus being there to call us back when we need a good pat lol. ;)
    I was just reading a story in the paper about a couple who have spent $28,000 on their athritic doggy. Some people go to the ends of the earth for their canine mates!

  4. Oh, beautiful, Sue... you and I see eye to eye about the anniemiles, that's for sure... And that bit about the Cross at the end! That filled my own eyes with tears,,,

  5. Lovely post here Sue
    being a dog owner myself I can relate

    I agree with Lucy re the DOG/GOD thing

  6. I have often wondered and marveled the loyalty of dogs towards their masters. By comparison, it often makes me think of our loyalty towards God. I know, its a deep thought.

  7. Oh Sue, this was beautiful. Lester is indeed a blessed soul (I don't care what anyone says I believe dogs have souls). Its true of most of us...those ads where Sara Mclachlan sings in the background and they show all the dogs in the shelter then she comes on and talks about it....I DIE every time that comes on. Then a few minutes later a World Vision ad comes on showing all the kids, and I die for that too, but die in small letters when for animals its all caps...

    We rescued (I say we, but it was really my brother) a dog yesterday that was on her "third chance" and she is perfect! Our whole family is in love. I wish I could adopt them all. In fact that is my life's have a home for those dogs that no one else wants.

  8. This is a beautiful post, Sue, and your Lester is one of the fortunate dogs.

    My dog is one of those "third chance" dogs, Barbara(Layla), spoke of. She was dropped off on Christmas morning, several years ago, taken in by my neighbors, who soon moved away, leaving the dog behind. I had two larger, older dogs, & didn't want a third one. I tried finding her a home - that was almost 14 years ago, & can't imagine not having her by my side, now!

    We probably look (and smell) like a bunch of shelter dogs, to the universe, but I'm thankful God continues to lovingly, draw us to himself. He sees value in each one. I do believe, it will be worth it someday.

  9. Barbara - what a lovely lady and what a great idea. Eyes of vision. Them things are priceless.

    I agree, two is better than one, and easier in some respects. I really do feel that. There is a festive feeling about two. They keep each other company. I do love hearing about your Humphrey and Bogart :)

    Cloudbusting - 28 grand. Wow. I guess it seems quite stupid in the grand scheme of things, if you compare your dog to starving children in Africa etc. But maybe that's where the comparison game fails and ends up making no sense at all, when it's love for one animal or for one child - you do what you can do. I guess love is foolish in the eyes of the world, huh :)

    Lucy - yep. Fulsome agreement :)

    Mike - oh, I'm glad I filled your eyes with tears! Those sort are the best possible ones - hope-filled tears that His love is even bigger than we think :)

    Kel - I just remembered right then that I had a dream the other night about a dog who had a picture of a cat in its nose, hehe :) But it wasn't Wysiwyg :) Haha!

    Drew - hi there! Thanks for coming to visit my blog :) It is a deep thought. I feel sadly that dogs loyalty will win out against our loyalty to God, hehe. At least at this point in time. It's just the way we humans are, I guess. We're learning. Dogs are far more advanced ;)

    Layla - Small letters versus caps. Yeah, it feels bad doing that but it's just ... I can give myself to my dog in a way I can't to a human because I trust implicitly that he will love me back :) I think your life's dream is an AWESOME one. Do it, do it :) I love your brother's new girl. Those ears! She's gorgeous. Makes me happy to hear she has started a happier phase of her life :)

    Sherry - Your comment is beautiful also :) You really should start writing a blog, you know ;) Yay for threedogs :) Isn't it funny how our lives turn out, the people and animals that we find in it and can't imagine life without them. Yeah, I'm glad loves us and our stench more than we love it in ourselves (and especially in each other). That's heaven, isn't it - loving each other the way God loves us? The thought twirls my mind :)


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