A Song Joined Our Family

lyricLast 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.

Adopt a Pet


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.

16 thoughts on “A Song Joined Our Family

  1. We have a dog adopted from our local (kill) shelter. My daughter took him because he’s black, and black dogs usually have a terrible time being adopted. He is the most amazing dog–and to think, someone would have put him to sleep. The very thought makes me cringe!

    1. Your parenthetical comment is so sadly true. For many animals, the shelter is not a place from which to be adopted. That’s not to cast aspersions on Shelter workers–most of whom also love the animals in their charge. However, if it wasn’t for volunteers in Rescue programs who step forward to take them home and become their advocates, their odds for happiness would greatly diminish.

  2. Susy Chesney

    Great post Rob. Kudos to you and your family for living with the rescue dogs. Our dog,Piper, was also afraid of men. I used to tell all who met him that he liked girls, but didn’t like boys. Most strangers would smile and agree with the wisdom of his caution. Then I wondered if it was the sound (very sound sensitive, is Piper) of a man’s voice, the lower register. So next I would ask the stranger to use his “little girl voice”. You know, every guy has one. Piper would lower his head and slowly wag that tail and approach strangers. Eight years later I have a pretty confident pooch that knows how to politely greet new people.

    P.S. Great picture. Song looks like a beautiful dog.

    1. Voices must certainly be cues to the dogs, and I have to confess that I often talk to my dogs in an affectionate, higher-toned voice. That happens naturally, like talking to babies. Guess I’m not quite like John Wayne and his dog Dog. Our Foxy does well with almost everyone now… except strange men who are wearing boots. That’s left a scar on her psyche that may never heal.

  3. Our dog that we adopted from the humane society looks kind of like Lyric. We named her Avalon and she’s a Border Collie/Labrador mix, aka Borador. She’s very sweet. Hope you enjoy the new addition to your family. :)

    1. Thanks. We’re pretty committed border collie people… got spoiled by how smart they are. Of course, that means they’re smart enough to worry, like people, and they can become a bit neurotic! Blessings to you and Avalon.

  4. The silent doggie bark line must be working over time – I was wondering today if a dog had selected your family yet. And here’s this post. (A joyful noise is surely what was barked across country) Lyric is a lovely addition.
    The myth/quote is quite applicable to rescued animals. They are so uncertain and so desperate to understand – and to be forever home.
    This morning we took Molly to romp with friends and to support/donate to a local no-kill rescue/shelter. And met a new person who raises/fosters and trains police dogs for a charity that gives them to police departments who can’t afford them. (Looking forward to getting to know more about her and all that)
    Know you’ve got plenty of dog stuff to do. A a little kid on the bloc here said when introducing her adopted rescue dog “He’s not new. He’s a used dog, but he’s great.”
    Recues, once sure they are home, are truly grateful and turn out to be the best dogs ever – a perfect fit: it just took a few false starts and a little time to get there.
    YEA! And welcome, Lyric.

    1. What a “providential” coincidence! And what a wonderful comment from your young neighbor! “He’s a used dog, but he’s great.” That’s an amazing truth not only about many animals, but about most human beings too! We are often used and discarded, sometimes by many, until we find our rest and peace in God and in those people who are able to truly love.

  5. Redneck Garage

    I’m so happy another rescue dog had found a new home. We have had two, we lost Shelly a few years ago, but Becky has found a new friend in Maggie (both pictured in my Gravatar). Becky did not like men, but like you said, with time and patience she came around. Becky is technically my wife’s dog (most dogs have a main person) but she has to come to be attached to us equally. If I try to pet another dog Becky will push her way in between to make sure she is getting the attention. Rescue dogs make some of the most loyal and loving animals in my experience.

  6. That’s a great picture of you with your two girls. Yes, they certainly are loyal and affectionate. But then, those traits are pretty common to all dogs. It’s in their wonderful DNA. Too bad they can’t figure out how to graft that into modern human genes.

  7. I haven’t had the chance to adopt a dog yet (I’m just not home enough, unfortunately), but I’ve been a life long adopter of cats. It always makes me happy to see animals end up in good forever homes.

    1. Yep, cats handle working “parents” much better than dogs. Our youngest son adopted a stray kitten his senior year in high school, and she’s been a great companion to him for all the years since.

  8. I’ve never read “Till We Have Faces,” but now it’s on my must-read list! Let me add to your list of great pet adoption sites that your readers who aren’t ready to commit to a furry family member can also donate money or supplies to their local SPCA. A common misperception is that the ASPCA is an umbrella organization that funnels money to all SPCA local chapters, but it’s not true: the ASPCA is a New York-based shelter and all money stays with them. They just happened to pick the brilliant but misleading name.

    Enjoy your newest member of the pack! She and Foxy are beauties.

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