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December 23, 2008

Gray, with a Silver Lining

I celebrate the people who go to shelters or rescue groups to adopt any homeless dog or cat. It's an act of love and kindness. But I have a special place in my heart for people who adopt senior pets. These dogs or cats may have a few flecks of gray, and may not be as frisky or fetching or as big-eyed as puppies or kittens, but they love us just the same and perhaps they need us even more. They may not stay with us as long, but that only means we need to pack a lifetime of love and affection into fewer years.

Some weeks ago, the following story came into the blog and it's a great reminder to us all during the holiday season of the special creatures who need our help. I hope you find inspiration in this tale that May Lattanzio, a freelance writer, poet and photographer, tells.

Off and on throughout my life, I have worked as a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator and placement volunteer for the local humane society and in private. I put up a blog and decided to help the county shelter which is high-kill, but rescue friendly, in Bay County, Fla., by putting a rotating widget in the sidebar of adoptable dogs.

Annie, dog of May Lattanzio Then I saw the nameless Boston with three legs who was supposedly five years old (approximately). Her owner was incarcerated, and she was given to someone else who neglected or mistreated her so much, she was confiscated.

And there she was. Much older than five. Maybe 500. She was scarred on her flanks. Her forehead looks like it was cleaved at one time. She trailed a long cyst sack that swung when she walked. It was heavy. She is missing a front leg. She hobbles; has lumps, bumps and warts all over. She is gray-faced.

Maybe someone would want a special needs dog. I took her home to foster. Granny Annie is no beauty. All dogs are beautiful physically, but poor Annie isn't. But inside that scarred interior lives a shining, golden heart and endless sweetness of character. I was planning to foster her so that she would not be euthanized. Who would want her?

It turned out that I did. To a house full of dogs and cats, she fit right in. If your heart is set on a dog, please adopt one, and don't forget the older ones who aren't pretty anymore; or the black ones who are seldom adopted because of their color. If they have special needs, they have lessons to teach you; like courage, inner strength, patience, gratitude and above all, love.

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