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Monday, May 4,2020

A Ruff Ride

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Erring on the side of caution (my standard mode), we battened down, far ahead of the quarantine directive. I haven’t left my house other than to walk dogs* and a bimonthly grocery trip. *Side note: you know you’re walking a LOT when your dogs hide from you as you’re putting on your shoes.

Like many, every source of income on my calendar vanished. As a photographer, I have no idea what will happen in the coming weeks/ months. It felt like we were prepping for a hurricane without the fear of losing power.

Knowing it’s always best to remain calm, I focus with gratitude that:

• We are safe. This too shall pass.

• We are not alone. Worldwide, we are all weathering this same storm.

• We have enough. We will get by, check in daily with neighbors (especially elders).

• We are together. There is a return to home cooked meals, family time, conversation.

• We have sunshine (conducive to vitality). Our weather is enviable. Many people are snowed in, unable to leave their four walls.

• We can adapt. Phone calls, video chat and online meetings are bringing people closer.

• With electrical power, WiFi and social media, we can stay connected.

• We have time for projects. I reconstructed my faery hut and hang out there often.

• Our wonderful (often taken for granted) Earth is miraculously healing.

Aside from taxes being due, April 15 isn’t usually memorable. With the first quarter under our belts, many of us assess if we are on track for our goals. This year has already been unprecedented. This April 15 was filled with joy.

I had been collaborating on a rescue in Miami since late March. A large mastiff lab mix with behavioral and medical issues was in limbo, stuck in red tape. Ruff Rescue (Rhode Island) stepped up, with an experienced foster home waiting.

There were daily updates via phone, Messenger and email. Everyone was pulling strings and calling in favors. I agreed to fetch Junior, but I wasn’t breaking quarantine without written confirmation.

Logging into online banking, there was an unexpected surprise: stimulus arrived! THANK YOU. It would help ease financial worries. Junior’s updates continued, we were all feeling frustrated. At lunch time, I received a text from a friend/ fellow rescuer, Dahlia Canes: Go get him. It’s a done deal. Emotion took over. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited that Junior was finally being released, or that I had somewhere to go!!! Visualizing this for weeks, a collar, lead and temporary tag awaited. Beach towels atop a plastic tarp were already set in my car. Grabbing a mask (welcome to the new normal, right?), water and treats, I headed south on the nearly empty expressway.

Arriving, I entered the shelter, mask up. The greeter instructed me to wait.

Twenty minutes passed, as I stood on the taped X. A rep came and asked if I was with rescue. She had a clipboard with two kittens’ picture. I’m here for a large dog. Here’s the ID number. More time passes. Heck, I’m just glad for the change of scenery, I thought to my masked self. Every time the kennel doors open, I imagined the big black lug, lumbering over – as if he’d know I was there for him. I watched new adopters leaving with pets, that made me happy. At the desk, as I’m signing a stack of papers, I feel something. Well hello, Junior! You’re so much more handsome than in your pictures! I put his collar with a temp ID on, and leash.

Unceremoniously, the clerk returns my driver’s license and adoption packet. Outside, Junior marks the bushes, looking back to where he was surrendered as a stray, back in October. Easily loading up into my small car, Junior makes himself comfy, and enjoys a treat. Still in the parking lot, I look in my rear view mirror. Misty-eyed, I think of all this dog has been through: being abandoned, found as a stray, hurt, months in a shelter eluding death, persevering medical/behavioral issues ... and now he’s just happily enjoying a cookie, about to go on a car ride. He stands up and comes to lick my tears away. I attach this picture, and text the rescue: I have the package. Everything’s gonna be all right.


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