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Caruthersville Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
A Rescue Story
by Karol Wilcox

I have been in the rescue business for many years and I try to have a hard and fast rule.  I do not take home animals to keep as I spend more time at the shelter than at home sometimes and feel like I can't give them the care or I could easily become a hoarder.

I have broken this rule four times, always with different but good results. 

Baxter was on the chopping block many years ago. We took him home and even though he was an outside dog, he was a great joy.  Medical problems finally took his life, but I knew he had a good life for many years and since he was a baby when we took him, he didn't know how close he came to just being put to sleep and never knowing life.

Meanness the "mean kitty" as the grandchildren say, was thrown out on the street over ten years ago at six weeks old.  She was cold and we named her Shadow originally.  Later, it was to be proven that she was one Mean Kitty, and her name evolved to Meanness.  She is still the queen of the house, and will love on you until you are unprepared, then bite the fire out of you.  If you escape her attack, she waits until you are not expecting it and gets you anyway.  She also started life here as a baby and probably doesn't know the bad times.

Naked is our special dog.  He came to the shelter at about 13 years old.  Flea infested until almost dead, we found out he had a broken neck that was never treated.  He looked funny, walked crooked, clucked like a chicken and didn't hardly have a tooth in his head.  I took him home four years ago to make him comfortable and he is still with us, in all his glory.

Toby is our latest addition. He came to us after being housed in an outside kennel with big dogs for over a month.  This little yorkie mix, about a year old, had been mistreated.  He was afraid of all people, kept his tail tucked between his legs, cowered at a raised voice and was afraid to eat.  I took him home for a weekend, and well, here he is.

What is the purpose of telling you all this?  Last night, after being ill and in the hospital, I was laying in bed looking at Naked and Toby.  I looked in their eyes as they looked at me.  I ask myself, "do they remember life before here?"  I think they do.

Life for Naked and Toby had to be miserable.  I simply cannot imagine what they thought of the human race.  They still probably adored whoever gave them occasional food, but what did they really think?

Life for them changed drastically from the minute they came to the shelter.  They were cleaned, treated, fed and loved.  Life changed even more when they came to our home.  They were loved, fed, played with and realized people were good.

But do they remember?  Do they remember that the human race can be mean and uncaring?  Do they remember being struck or starved, having their bones broken, not getting medical help, and no one caring?  Both came to us accidentally, both escaped their plight somehow.  Both were destined to come into my life and enrich it I believe.

Why rescue a dog or cat?  Because most of the time those animals came from bad situations, were unwanted, were abandoned, neglected or abused.  Don't let anyone tell you that animals do not feel.  I can tell you from looking in Toby and Naked's eyes every day that they feel, that they know they are loved and that they love.  But do they remember?

I can only hope that once we get them into our shelter and caring hands that they can begin to forget the past.  I wish people would rescue them from the shelters and let them know a home and caring humans.  I wish there was no neglect, no abuse, no mean humans.

Our world is a tough place for us.  Think about how tough it is for an animal that depends solely on us.  We are put on earth to be the compassionate, intelligent, thinking beings.  How can we not look out for God's creatures?

Do they remember?  I think they do.  I do believe that human kindness helps them forget and move on to know a better life.  Each and every one of us can make a difference.  The next time you see a rescue or shelter dog, look into its eyes.  All it is asking for is a simple chance to love you.

This is a season of giving and caring.  Remember the animals that need you.  As we move ahead in a tough economy there will be more and more Tobys and Nakeds.  Each and every one of them needs some time to snuggle with a human.  They need someone to touch them and feed them and let them know that they are good.

Toby doesn't cower anymore.  I think he still believes he is going to lose everything as when we leave the house he drags all of our belongings he can to the front door.  Naked clucks like a chicken, and moves slowly in his old age, but still lets you know he loves you.

Do they remember?  Not if you help them forget.  Rescue and adopt, don't buy.  Spay and neuter and love your animals.  And if you can't care for them, please don't get them.  Please consider opening your heart to a rescue animal and give to your local shelters.

How many of you say, "I just can't go in there and look at those poor animals?"  They are not poor animals in the shelter.  For most, it is the best life they have had so far.  For others, it is home for a long time.  They want your companionship.  If you can't adopt, you can go to the shelter and give them love.

Do they remember?  Not if you enter their life.

~Karole Wilcox
  Caruthersville Humane Society at Hayti