As I look around at the many foster dogs who love and depend on me, I anxiously anticipate the bittersweet moment when they'll move on to the next phase of their lives... going HOME to their forever family.
I'll never be able to explain in words the immense joy --and overwhelming heartbreak-- of that moment. It’s like my heart, while so full of happiness, is being ripped from my chest. When they go, I honestly lose a piece of myself... a piece that will never return to me.
On that day, this precious dog... who's been nothing less than my own child... is leaving me forever. Most of them, I'll never see again. They can’t call me. They can’t send a letter. I can’t see them, touch them, or hold them anymore. When I let them go... I know that it's the last time our paths will ever cross in this lifetime.
For a short while, this foster dog is my entire world. I pulled this dog from death... right into my heart. I nursed them back to health. I taught them to trust, to play, to share. I showed them compassion for the first time in their life, and I promised to love them always...
That love, lives forever, inside my soul.
That love, lives forever, inside my soul.
All the while, I know... that one day soon, they will leave me.
I know that each hug, each kiss, each smile, is precious… as this won't last forever.
I know that in days or weeks, I will cry myself to sleep, because I miss this baby so much.
I know that, when I leave them with their new family, they will not understand.
I know that they will try to leave with me.
I know that I will sob as I say, “No, baby. Stay here. This is your home now.”
I know that I will hear them cry for me as I drive away.
I know that for a couple of days, they will wait by the door for me to return.
I know that I won’t return.
And I know that I will spend the rest of my life loving someone that I can never see again.
But here’s what else I know:
I know that this dog will now have the life they deserve, with a family who will treasure them.
I know that they will soon realize that this new home is where they belong.
I know that they will understand why I did what I did for them, and why I had to leave.
I know that they will thank me for what I did, every day, forever.
I know that their lives now mean something to someone other than myself.
I know that the joy experienced during our time together will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I know that my pain resulted in a lifetime of their joy.
I know that my saving them really saved me.
I know that I can now save another life in their place, and in their honor.
And I know that, for one more dog, the world is exactly as it should be.
What a gift to give… Life. Love. Happiness. The holes in my heart are repaired by the joy of a family that is now complete. A family that will forever be special to me, because they made my child, their child.
Yes, I take them in... knowing that they will leave me, but the pain of their leaving doesn’t outweigh the joy of the time I have with them. And my gift to them is happiness, every single day, for the rest of their lives.
The moment will come when each of my children will leave me for another family. I look at my rescue babies, and despite the pain, my heart longs for that moment. They deserve that moment. They deserve a family that will love them forever. A place to call home. They deserve the life that they almost never had… the life that others tried to steal from them. But I fought to give that life back to them. And as we part, I give them 2 things: their life and my heart.
And now, another dog deserves the chance to be rescued by me in their place. As one dog waits by the door for me to return, another waits on death row for me to arrive. And the dog awaiting my return already has a family… the other doesn’t even know what a family is. So my heart can handle the pain, because another’s despair depends on my strength.
And when I arrive, I'll say, “Hey little one. I'm your new mom, and everything's okay now. I'm sorry it took me so long to get here… I had to let my other baby go... so I could take you as my child. One day soon, you'll leave me too, and that will be the second-best day of your life. Today is the best. Let’s go home.”