Last night a new member joined our family. Her name is musical. We didn’t choose it; her previous family did. But we think it fits and she’ll live up to it.
Her name is Lyric.
We adopted Lyric through the agency of DRAW Rescue.
The picture above shows black and white Lyric at her first meeting with her new sister, Foxy. (We didn’t name Foxy either; she joined our family when we “rescued” her from a California shelter six years ago.)
The two girls are getting along quite well their first full day together, but those of you with more than one pet know that it takes a little bit of time to sort things out when a new member joins the family.
Lyric is our third consecutive rescue pet. Although she’s younger than the others who came to us in the past, adopting a rescue dog isn’t the same thing as getting a puppy. You don’t enjoy the same cuddly acceptance. Many rescued dogs are quite wary of human beings—especially men.
It takes time and patience to bond. To let them know that they’re safe and they are now in their “forever home.” Some, like Lyric, benefit from interim stays with gracious foster parents. But their move to your home is still just part of their unstable life until the day when they “forget” about all the previous transitions and just know they are home.
C.S. Lewis talks about this longing for a home in Till We Have Faces. Psyche is describing her desire to find that place where she truly belongs.
Somewhere else there must be more of it. Everything seemed to be saying, Psyche come! But I couldn’t (not yet) come and I didn’t know where I was to come to. It almost hurt me. I felt like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home. . . .”
The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing— to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from . . . my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
Although the myth he’s retelling in this book has nothing to do with adopting pets, the following passage also relates (by dramatic extension) to the situation of “rescued” animals who join you with a legacy of previous relationships (not all of them good).
“Where shall we ever be safe if we’re not safe here? This is my home, Maia. And you won’t understand the wonder and glory of my adventure unless you listen to the bad part.
If you are in a position to share your home with a pet, I probably don’t need to tell you there are many, very many of them who need homes today. If you’re up to the extra challenge of adopting a rescued animal who comes with often unknown “baggage,” just contact one of your local rescue agencies.
These organizations are almost always run by volunteers who are motivated solely by their compassion for these innocent creatures who can no longer be cared for by their owners or—more tragically, have been discarded by those who should have cared for them. (Some, of course, are strays who were never in a human family.) I’m proud to say my nephew and his wife provide a foster home for rescued dogs in Seattle.
Whatever their background . . . the “bad part” of their story, you can be instrumental in “rehabilitating” them. And, trust me, they will reward you with more love than you could ever imagine.
Now, even if you’re not prepared to take in one of these lovely creatures, you can still help. Your local rescue organizations and shelters welcome any contributions you make—either in kind or in cash. You can check your phonebook for local rescues. Or, check out one of these websites which can connect you to many of these groups.
Rescue Me (Dogs)
This column turned into more than I intended it to be. Originally I set out to simply celebrate Lyric’s entrance to our family. Now I realize that her blessing just may encourage the adoption of another cat or dog. And that would be a wonderful thing indeed.
In closing, let’s consider another passage from C.S. Lewis, the creator of Narnia. In a letter he wrote in 1955, he mentions the importance of home.
As Dr. [Samuel] Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour.” (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter; 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.)
These words remind us that the happiness we know in our earthly homes is only a foretaste of the joy we can know when we ultimately take our place in the eternal home prepared for us by our Creator.
Perhaps on that day we’ll be welcomed not only by our loved ones who have preceded us, but also by the pets we have loved during this mortal life. That would certainly be a magnificent thing . . . but that’s a discussion for another day.