Oct 22, 2012


I work at a very busy animal shelter in the business office.  Before I worked there, I would stop by and volunteer to take photos of the animals to help get them seen by more people.  Now that I'm on staff, I try to set aside some time to get through once a week to get photos of at least a few animals.  

I wasn't back there this time to meet any of the dogs.  I just had to run to the back office for something and get back to my desk.  He stopped me mid step. When I met Hank, he was huddled in the corner of the kennel with his eyes closed.  The picture of someone who had given up.  It's been a long time since the last one that stopped me like that.  

His card said that he was an owner surrender.  No name was given or details on who he was.  He had giant tumors on his neck and stomach.  He was obviously a senior dog.  I was filled with such disappointment that he was in this situation.  I coaxed him over to the bars on the front of the cage and gave him a head scratch, some kind words, and a name.  After a few minutes, I went back to my office and my thoughts would drift back to this guy.  I cried in the car on the way home.

I asked the shelter manager if there was anything we could do for him and she kind of cringed and said that she doesn't know yet.  The vet needed to look at his tumors but she didn't know how treatable they would be.  Come to find out, they were not something that we would be able to treat with the resources that we have.  Defeated, I went home that weekend and tried to make peace with the whole situation.  On Monday morning he wasn't in his kennel and my stomach was in a knot.

I braced myself for bad news and finally had to ask someone about him.  Come to find out, he was missing for over two weeks.  The person that found him held him at his house for over a week and brought him in to us.  Since he was privately held, he was checked in as an owner surrender since he had already passed the amount of time the law requires.  His owner came in on Sunday.  His name is Rufus.  He is loved by his family.  He is home.

My job is very emotionally draining.  It's also very fulfilling.  This is a win that will get me through rough days for awhile.

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