Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

P Paws A Moment by Breonna Loxley


December 2019.  A brindle bully mix with a big blocky head and a body so emaciated you could see every single rib bone.  By the time this dog arrived at the shelter, he had already been let down by humans in the most terrible way.  He was weak and suffering and . . . gentle.  He was the gentlest, sweetest dog.  He gazed at us with beautiful brown eyes, he was happy to see us, and despite all the neglect, he loved to be touched. He loved to be touched.  We named this gentle soul Horace, and we nursed him back to health, and we celebrated his adoption.

September 2020. A familiar name on the dry erase board made my heart sink: Horace. Our Horace?!  I went to the quarantine room and opened the door, and felt equal parts rage and grief.  There was Horace, emaciated like when we first met him. But this time, his face was grotesquely swollen, too.  He had been surrendered back to us, and our hearts broke when the vet told us how much Horace was suffering, that the tumor in his cheek was inoperable.  Horace was the epitome of a good boy, which made it all the more heartbreaking when the only thing we could do was let him go.

sometimes it's too late
for happy endings, and the
best we can do is show mercy

I was watching a scene from a show called Supernatural the other night that stuck with me, and I wasn't quite sure why.  Especially these lines: "It's a crap job.  We do the ugly thing so that people can live happy.  But it doesn't change a thing.  We still do the job.  But we don't do it for us."  The characters are talking about hunting monsters and the scars that burden leaves behind.  They're talking about how hard it is to fight such an ugly war.  I realized the scene resonated because of how it parallels those dedicated to animal rescue. Our monsters leave scars, too.  Not always- so much of rescue work is beautiful and rewarding and joyful.  But sometimes it's too late for happy endings, and the best we can do is show mercy. When times like that are heavy on our hearts, we don't keep going for us- we keep going for the ones left to save. Horace's story didn't have a happy ending, but it's a story that deserves to be told. Animal shelters and rescues around the world are not only fighting companion animal overpopulation, but they are fighting for dogs like Horace. Visit your local shelter to learn how you can help the homeless animals in your community.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.