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Being ‘Rescued’

By Kathy Hallberg

I am often asked “How did you get into rescuing?” and “How do you let them go? I would want to keep them all.” I’ve considered these questions myself at various times in the last five years - usually after I’ve given a response to someone. It’s hard to accurately put into words the reasons I got started in all of this. I don’t ever feel like my answers capture the incredible emotion and passion that these simple questions generate in me. As a result, I thought I’d try to explain here in the hopes that this may ring a chord with others and call them to action as well.

I grew up with dogs and they were always a part of our family. As an adult, my husband came home from the vet one day with a black and white puppy. She had been brought in by someone who had found a litter in a ditch. She was the last one left so he brought her home. She seemed to know that if she sold me on keeping her that she was ‘in.’ She looked at me with these big puppy eyes and crawled up in my lap. I was an easy mark! We named her Lucy. She is a Border collie/English setter mix.

After about six months of playing frisbee and ball with Lucy constantly, I wanted a second dog and thought Lucy might enjoy a playmate. My vet told us about a local Border collie rescue organization. I had never heard of rescue, but we contacted them and began a search. We met a couple of dogs, but neither felt right. During one conversation, the foster mom told me about a dog she had just rescued in southern Missouri. As she described her to me, something clicked. I told her that if she decided not to keep her, that I would like to meet her. About a week later, the foster mom called and asked would I like to come meet the dog? When we met her it seemed like a good fit – Lucy seemed ok with her and she was friendly, but more low-key.

We renamed her Petey and she and Lucy became good friends. As Petey began to trust us and we taught her simple things we took for granted such as going up and down stairs, I began to see more personality in her. Each new thing she learned was a major milestone. Lucy loved to play fetch and Petey would watch the ball or frisbee, but had no clue how to play herself. After four months, Petey finally brought the ball back to me. She’d gone through a phase where she’d run to wherever the ball had landed and look at you with that happy BC look of “Here it is, do you see it, do you see it, huh? Huh? Throw it again. Throw it again.” Now, she has to have a ball with her everywhere she goes – to the mailbox, in the car, to the park, to bed.

After seeing the transformation in Petey and realizing we had found each other as a result of rescue, I began wondering whether this was something I could do for other dogs and families. Through the internet, I discovered a rescuer who had written beautiful stories about her experiences. I contacted her and she graciously answered my questions and provided some very good advice for someone just getting started the rescue world. One of her stories, Little Pieces, sums up beautifully for me ‘how you let them go.’

Today, when I think about the dogs I’ve met, how much I’ve learned and the good friends I’ve made along the way, I realize that I’ve gained as much as I’ve given. Every once in awhile, I look at Petey as she lays at my feet with her ball close by or watch her and Lucy wrestling in the yard, and reread Little Pieces or the adoption success stories and it reconfirms for me that this was the right path for me to take. We recently had a discussion in my Sunday school class on the topic of serving and someone said that they thought you knew you were serving in the right way when you felt passion about what you were doing. You might not ever know the full impact your actions had, but you did them because it was the right thing to do. For me, that’s where rescue fits. It touches so many lives - the dogs, the shelter workers or owners that relinquished the dog, the people who drive miles to transport a dog, the foster families and, of course, the forever homes.

I’ve got to stop now, as I have a black and white nose nudging me holding a ball that absolutely needs to be thrown. After all, it’s been a whole half hour!


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