Miracles happen most every day at the Eva Burrell Animal Shelter. Some are big and boisterous as when Leila Mae barked and barked until that special family recognized her potential. Everyone noisily applauded out of joy and relief when she finally went “home.” Other miracles are small and quiet but just as momentous.
Jewel: A very young cat with her first kitten, didn’t know how to be a mom to Tiffany, her teenie-tiny first-born. With gentle encouragement and patterning in the quiet of our quarantine room, she finally realized her responsibility. Tiffany, our miracle kitten, grew into a gorgeous calico and a very spoiled diva. Sometimes the miracles are blatant and other times elusive. They may manifest in the friendly slurp of a canine kiss or in an almost inaudible purr of a kitten. However it happens, you have a part in it. You may have adopted one our beauties, perhaps volunteered, maybe contributed money or even brought a stray to the shelter for temporary refuge. Because of you, miracles happen!
Abiding Faith: Faith came to the shelter in wretched condition – emaciated, dirty, vermin infested, wickedly long nails. Found in early summer collapsed near a trail, she had been long on her own. Ragged ears testified to vicious gnawing by insects; broken-down wrists indicated many miles of hard travel. Her weakened state challenged her continued survival. Perhaps as a puppy she had once been a typical gamboling, happy youngster of mixed Rottweiler heritage. Whatever fate she suffered in her youth greatly compromised her well-being. Remarkably, she sensed safety in the people who found her, confidence in the man who transported her to the shelter, faith in the staff and volunteers who cared for her and about her. Hence, her name – Faith.
If she would keep faith with us, we would do everything reasonably possible to help her. A promise is a serious oath not to be broken, and neither the dog nor those who now were concerned about her broke that faith. Hearts swelled when Faith thumped her tail the first time and every time thereafter. Caring arms held her gently and patiently when she dared climb into a lap. Tears threatened to spill when her lovely brown eyes followed us with trust. In a fairly short matter of time, Faith rallied. Eventually, a bath, a nail trim, some meds and good nutrition resulted in her marked improvement. Interest replaced listlessness. Her energy began to return. A sweet and impish personality emerged. Not long thereafter, Faith went home with her hero – the man in whom she had intuitively known to place her confidence and trust. You see, miracles really do happen!
Autumn Gold: In my mind, I called him Autumn. In the autumn of the year, he came to me in the autumn of his life. Like the season, his golden coat reflected the beauty of glorious sunshine on a fine crisp day. But on this morning, his sodden fur was like the wet leaves – damp, heavy with rain and tossed into disarray by a chilly wind. Late the previous night on my way home in a spitting, fitful storm, I had spied a lumpy obstacle in the isolated trail. I assumed it was a fallen limb tossed down by a fierce tempest. I carefully maneuvered around it before realizing it was the body of a dog – utterly motionless, obviously dead. Sadness gripped me.
Early the following morning I returned to the trail intending to move the body into the woods. A final resting place beneath the colorful leaves might provide a little dignity and honor to one of nature’s beautiful creatures. But, not a trace of the dog did I find. No blood from an injury or gunshot. No marks of a foraging wolf or coyote. An overwhelming feeling of guilt urged me to look further. Only a few feet off the trail did I see him – an old, weak and once handsome golden retriever. He lay well camouflaged among the fallen birch leaves in a small depression at the base of a tree, so still and silent I nearly overlooked him. With gentle coaxing and a stale dog biscuit long forgotten in the pocket of my slicker, he slowly roused himself and hobbled towards me. Weary and lonely for care, he softly took the morsel of biscuit and then lamely retreated to his leafy lair. Again I encouraged him to come with me. I had left him the night before. I would not leave him again. Trustingly, he put his front paws on the back bumper and allowed me to assist him into my van. With another biscuit and a half-hearted thump of his tail, he settled easily on some old towels. The animal shelter would provide him a safe and caring place.
With noble trust, he hesitantly entered a kennel and collapsed on a soft blanket. A few moments later he rewarded my concern by lapping some warm water. The shelter manager examined him more closely. He didn’t resist the intrusion of strangers. A sometime injury to his head above the eye had bled onto his ruff, drying and entangling his fur with his collar. A collar . . . once upon a time somebody had cared. Eyes sunken with dehydration, he was rail thin. He had been gone too long from home. He had given up.
Maybe not completely however. Hope wavered, but he survived that first night in the shelter and summoned his will as if to express his gratitude for another chance. Thus, he became “Chance.” He had given me a chance to find him and I had promised him a chance for safety. He continued to respond favorably after the local veterinarian lanced a large abscess, treated an infection and removed a .22 caliber rifle bullet, the original gunshot wound site being on the top of his head.
An accidental shooting? Probably not, but rather a deliberate attempt to kill this lovely dog of gentle character. After the fateful shot resounded, the owner probably turned his back and walked away leaving him for dead. But, he wasn’t. Wounded? Yes. Painfully so? Yes again. Dead? Most definitely not! Fortunately, Chance was more resolute than the cold-hearted being with the weapon. He struggled to live.
We can surmise that Chance wandered for a fairly long period of time – dazed, hungry, weak and alone. We know for sure that he didn’t give up. He dared to trust a human one more time, and that trust ultimately saved his life. Chance continues to gain in strength and spirit despite blindness in one eye and some deafness – perhaps attributable to the gunshot. A hint of his former self can be seen as he eagerly tugs on his leash, happily thumps his tail when someone approaches his kennel, or gently nuzzles a hand for a caress.
Miraculously, this beautiful golden retriever made a remarkable recovery and went “home’ with a very special family. Some months later, Chance’s grateful adoptive family, who had suffered loss and emotional trauma themselves, claimed that he saved them as much as they rescued him.
There’s no doubt about miracles!