“Rescue” – I’ve been thinking a lot about this word lately. It conjures up idealized, romantic, happily-ever-after mental images. But then there is the nitty-gritty, in-your-face reality of the rescue process itself.
Last week our family drove an hour-and-a-half to a greyhound kennel to pick up a rescue dog to foster for a few weeks before his placement in a permanent home. Felix was born to race; but, for whatever reason, he never made it to the track and retired at the ripe old age of 15-months-old. The first moments of meeting him were warm and sweet. Even our resident greyhound, Cody, along for the ride, seemed to like him. We admired his black face, slinky fawn-colored body with mischievous white socks, and white-tipped tail. We loaded him uneventfully into the back of our vehicle. The rest of us, another dog and six people, folded like pieces of a Rubik’s cube into our places.
Then, partway through the drive home, our daughter exclaimed from the back seat where she sat with Felix, “Mom, there’s bugs all over Felix!”
Sure enough, fleas swarmed the poor creature. As soon as we arrived home we soaped him up with medicated shampoo provided by Colorado Greyhound Adoption. The next day we applied K9Advantix, and watched in horror a mass exodus of the little fiends. Unfortunately, the determined little buggers jumped on Cody sometime before their extermination, so he too needed a bath and medication. For days after, we as humans felt the creepy-crawlies of real or imagined little critters.
The word “rescue” got a little sullied in that swarm of black bugs, and it got even messier when Felix started “marking” inside our house, climbing on the dinner table, and howling through the night. An endearing overbite sprayed food all over when he ate.
Each day is a little better. He learned within a few days to “mark” only outside, squirts of water in the face convinced him to stay a respectful distance from the dinner table, and the howling and messy eating – well, we’re still working on that.
As I’ve thought of this process of rescuing Felix, I’ve realized it is a microcosm, a parable, for the theme of redemption. I am convinced it is encoded into the core of the universe.
You can go through life choosing only the prettiest paths, aspiring only to achieve comfort and abundance. Or you can walk the rocky, tenuous, cliff-hanger path of rescue. If you do:
- you will get dirty
- you will be uncomfortable
- you will lose sleep
- you will wake up bleary-eyed and maybe even bruised.
During this coming week, Felix will be placed in his permanent home. I will cry when he leaves. I’ve become rather attached to this sweet, curious creature. But I also anticipate the joy I will feel when his family meets him for the first time and starts falling in love. It will be worth it.
Because I’ve discovered in far more profound situations involving people that if you choose to participate in redemption, you will also stumble into those sunset moments that will be irrationally beautiful because of the price of admission. Your blood, sweat, and tears will secure more joy than your heart can hold.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised a few days ago. One of my sons, Jacob, came home with his girlfriend Kassidy. I started to greet them and then lost my train of thought as I noticed a brown wiggly body in Kassidy’s arms.
“Who is this?” I asked in surprise.
“Actually,” they told me in a breathless tumble of words with pleading eyes, “there are four more in the car, and it’s only for a night, and they would have been killed, and they’ll be adopted tomorrow, and we’ll do all the work, … and, … and …”
Soon five little puppies yelped and snuggled into our home, joining Felix and Cody. I shook my head in pretend consternation at the spectacle of 7 dogs tromping through our living room, but I’m sure Jacob could see the glint of pride in my eyes.
Go rescue something. It will be worth it.