Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shelter Animals...The gift to yourself that keeps on giving

Since this is "National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week," I thought I'd take a minute to tell you about a very special shelter dog, a Great Dane named Casper.

(click any photos to enlarge)

Casper was a harlequin (although by Great Dane standards, her markings weren't really up to par). Rather than a large, patchy black and white coat, Casper's fur was completely white with only the tiniest black dot on her upper back.


I'd always dreamed of owning a Great Dane (I think it was a continuation of my unfulfilled girlhood dream to own a horse!). Whenever I saw photos of beautiful fawn Great Danes with their tan coats and black masks, my heart would melt. So when hubby and I got our first home back in the late 70's, I found a Great Dane rescue group who pointed me in the direction of a particular pound/shelter that housed the Danes they had up for adoption.


When we arrived at the shelter, several Great Danes came bounding to the front of their pens to greet us, jumping excitedly, licking our hands... I was ecstatic - these were the gorgeous dogs of my dreams, and we now had the chance to actually take one home with us!


But suddenly, behind all these majestic creatures, I caught a glimpse of something way in the back of the pen, huddled against the farthest corner. This poor pitiful creature was thin and dirty, her eyes void of any expression as she watched all the other Great Danes jumping and barking so excitedly. She definitely was not the dog of my dreams, yet I knew in that instant that I had found the dog I'd been searching for...


She was several years old. She'd been beaten, abused, and chained in a backyard without food or water. Along with her many sores, every rib and bone jutted out of her frame. But even sadder than the physical toll on her body was the fact that her spirit had been broken. This once noble, and truly Great Dane, was nothing more than the shell of a dog. She cowered from people; she didn't look you in the eye; she didn't kiss; she didn't bark; she didn't wag her tail...

But just as people respond to kindness and a gentle word, so do animals. And so the healing began. Physically, her sores disappeared...


... and she put on weight. (She loved nothing more than to finish off my coffee if it was left sitting on the table!)...


But the biggest thrill was when she barked and wagged her tail for the first time, which was a few months after we adopted her. And once she did that, there was no looking back!!! She had reclaimed her spirit, personality, and playfulness...every ounce of her greatness!


The dog who once cowered and shied away from human contact was now the biggest kissing machine ever! (My mom was the lucky recipient in this photo)... She was a one-in-a-million dog and we were so lucky to have found her! She brightened our lives for seven wonderful years, until she succumbed to cancer in 1986.

So, in honor of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, if any of you are in the market for a companion who will love you unconditionally, you needn't look any further than your local shelter!! I also have several national shelter links on my sidebar where you can find any type of animal you are looking for. Please feel free to add them to your own blogs if you'd like.

I know I'm very partial to rescues, but I truly believe a shelter or pound animal will gift you with unconditional love their whole life through. I know our Casper certainly did. And all these many years later, she is still gifting us with such wonderful memories of our days together.

Donna

P.S. The statue in the first two photos is a brass statue of a Great Dane that I painted white with one black spot in memory of our Casper...

24 comments:

Claudia said...

Dear Donna,

Your post about your beloved Casper brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful boy - just waiting for a loving family - which he so happily had with you. Both my dogs are shelter dogs and our first dog, Winston, was a shelter dog. I am such a strong believer in rescuing dogs. They will return our love tenfold.

xoxo
Claudia

PlantSomeRoots@Lakewood said...

Donna,
What a lovely story about your special dog. I would have chosen him over the other dogs, too!
Living it up at Lakewood,
Cindy

Lisa said...

Oh how awesome! I, oddly enough, have never heard of Shelter week. I have 3 rescues and actually only ever had one dog that was breeder bought ( my mom did it when we were little) I love the rescues. I even got my first one as a puppy! At least I can say I've done the puppy thing! hehe I love your Casper story! And thank you for sending people to our shelters. They are very full with our economy as it is.
Hugs, Lisa

GWENDOLYN said...

I have tears running down my face. Casper was one lucky dog to have found you and you him.
Blessings!
Gwen
p.s. I believe our beloved pets that go before us will be waiting for us in heaven:)

Chatelaine said...

Heartwarming post. Casper was lucky to have found you and vice versa.

I think shelter pets are the best.
I rescued one of my cats myself and the other was from a shelter.
They make the best pets and they do learn to love again.

I hope many people consider adopting a shelter pet this week.

Sue said...

What a lovely story, he was such a gorgeous dog.You saved his life.
I had to look at the statue a couple of times, just to be sure I knew it wasnt real!
Sue

Leann said...

Hi Donna

What a truly loving person to open your heart and home and rescue a dog. It takes a special person!

Thanks for sharing!
Leann

Arlene said...

What a touching story, I now have tears in my eyes so I hope I"m spelling correctly. I too am an animal lover and I have rescued several kitty's over time.
My Casa Bella

Roses and Lilacs said...

That is a lovely story. I am always so happy for the dog who is lucky enough to find the perfect home. Then my eyes tear up when I think of so many dogs and cats that never find good homes.
Manrie

Susan S. said...

Aww....what a sweetheart Casper was! I loved his/your story. He was a special, special guy and I am so glad you found him. Thanks for dropping by my blog, please come again!
I rescued Riley (she had gotten stuck in a neighbors garage behind boxes and cried all night to get out. She cried so much she damaged her voice box so she sort of Peeps instead of meows. Makes me love her even more. And Carson was the product of a "mixed relationship"..mostly Schnauzer but a touch of something else because he's got pretty long legs. White Schnauzer's are not allowed to show because of their coloring...but that makes me love him more too! He SUPER SPECIAL to me! Have a wonderful day and thanks for Casper's story. :)

The Old Painted Cottage said...

Beautifully written, lovely story about dear sweet Casper. I'm all tears. Thank you for sharing this.

oxox
Jennifer

Wendy said...

Great story, Donna! You are the best! My daughter and I went to our local ASPCA Shelter on Halloween and adopted a 2-year-old "kitten" to live with us and our 9-year-old Maine Coon. I applaud all of you who shun the petshop mills and adopt the needy, loveable creatures who will shower you with love and devotion!

Kate said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for rescuing such a beautiful animal. I'm partial myself to shelter pups - For the past 13 years I've been blessed to be able to share my life with a shelter pup myself.


[IMG]http://i653.photobucket.com/albums/uu253/Mskate1/Katie002.jpg[/IMG]

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh Darn! Now I'm sitting here crying like a baby. What a sweet story and I'm so happy that dear baby got to have a wonderful life before passing on.

I just can't stand to hear about animals being hurt or abused. What in the world is wrong with people!!!!

hugs,
Joanne

Jean Tuthill said...

Hi Donna, What a beautiful story about Casper. What a beautiful dog. I always think that animal shelter dogs are the best. They seem to have so much more love to give. My little Dusty was a shelter dog and he is the best! We love him so much!

Jennifer said...

Hi Donna I am so happy you were able to give Casper a loving home.He was such a beautiful boy!
Great danes are a rare breed, there love is like no other animal I have had.My Dutchess is a great dane,Her ears were uncropped though.she is a love.Her brother passed away this summer it was heartbreaking.My other 2 danes were rescues too.I have 3 total now.Hugs,Jennifer

Carol said...

What a wonderful story. I've had several dogs through the years. Not shelter dogs..but taken because someone was going to give them away or put them away. I refuse to buy a pet when there are so many who need homes. You are doing a great job.

www.wildlifearoundus.blogspot.com

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Fabulous post Donna! Casper was such a special dog....I so glad you found hima nd have him the love he needed! Hugs, Pat

Brenda @Cozy Little House said...

Surely brought tears to my eyes! Reminded me of my dear Pepper, gone now nearly four years. Oh, how I loved that little rescue dog!
Brenda

Lisa said...

Oh Donna, I can feel the love radiating in this post. My home is overflowing with rescued pets. It seems my whole life I have been surrounded by these creatures who found a way to enter my life. I don't get to choose them, they choose me. Thanks for bringing this subject to attention that it deserves.

lvroftiques said...

My first visit here and I'm already bawling. What a wonderful story. As a mom to 4 pound animals I swear they KNOW we saved them. Each one a bigger blessing than we cdould ever have imagined.....Now I really need to get some kleenex...Vanna

Virginia Mallon-Ackermann said...

A great tale about a lucky dog. I was drawn to the name of your blog (I have a cottage too) and wandered here to the sweet pet pages. Lovely.

Amy @MaisonDecor said...

Loved reading about Casper~it was a touching story and wonderful. WE have our own Casper and his name is Dillon and we rescued him and he is the light in our lives and is the most loving dog we have ever owned.

Kc W said...

Donna, this is such a wonderful post and you are such a wonderful person! You recognized immediately that you needed Casper and Casper certainly needed you. Thanks for sharing this post with me. FYI, my best friend in elementary school had a Great Dane named Lady who was the sweetest dog and could knock me over with his tail when he got excited!