Recently I attended the annual Old Dog Haven Foster and Volunteer Appreciation Picnic. I’d love to tell you what I saw, heard, and was a part of, but I spent quite a bit of time watching the dogs that were there and I think you need to hear about the event from them. You’ll have to pardon the anthropomorphic approach but it’ll have to work here. Just keep in mind that dogs don’t need to use words; humans do, and since I’m writing to people, words will have to do. So, this blog is a love letter from one dog that will speak for the others. Also, all of the photographs you see in this blog were taken at the picnic by ODH’s Honorary Photographer Julie Austin. Thank you Julie!
“My person brought me to a picnic not long ago to meet my extended Old Dog Haven family. The picnic was supposed to be for the people, but I think it was for me. I know it was for me. I went around on leash, in a stroller, in my person’s arms, and I met lots of wonderful people and other dogs. I’d never been to a picnic before and I loved it. I never knew I had such a big family!
“Mostly though, I felt wanted there. I knew I was with my big family. I felt safe. I felt free to be the dog I am. No more shelter stress. No more pain. No more loneliness. No more wondering if someone would ever love me and provide a home for me. There were other dogs there that had been in a shelter too and we checked each other out and blessed our families for taking such good care of us. A lot of the dogs even sleep on the big human bed at night (like me) and we all love it that we don’t have to be in a cage anymore.
“I met some dogs there that have what people would call disabilities: I met a guy named Reggie who’s deaf and almost completely blind, but he was perfectly comfortable milling around the crowd because his person was with him and he knew he was among friends. I also met Corrie, a dog that has cancer. But the cancer isn’t who she is; it’s just something that’s going on with her body but she’s so happy she doesn’t care. I don’t think there were any treats left by the time Corrie went home.
“Some of the dogs were really funny. A big guy named Harley made a run for it while they were setting up for the group picture, but somebody got him. And then there was Captain Wally: he didn’t have any hair on his tail, but he had a great smile. Oh, and some little guy with big ears kept going on about being stuck in traffic on the way to get there.
“There was also stuff there. They had what they called a swap tent where people found all kinds of goodies for their dogs. I had a great time rummaging around in there looking for toys and a new sweater. People brought things they couldn’t use and shared with other people. Very cool concept this sharing thing. There was a lot of that going on.
“And, oh yeah there was food to share too. I got to share part of my person’s sandwich, which was really good, but I didn’t get to eat the chocolate cookie I wanted. All of the people looked like they were really enjoying the food. I especially liked the lady who was in charge of the lunch; she just happened to drop a piece of cheese in my mouth when I walked close to her.
“And the stories I heard: Everyone there was so proud of their dog. The humans kept saying things like … ‘she looks good now, but you should have seen her when she first came to me …’ or ‘look at him now! When I first picked him up he hardly had any hair, his teeth were awful and he just hid under the bed.’”
“I even saw the lady who drove me from the shelter to my new home. She was blown away by how good I look. I remember her really well because she was the one who bailed me out of the slammer and gave me such a nice ride to my new home. She even rolled the window down so I could smell the fresh air. She also gave me cookies and lots of hugs.
“You know what else was really wonderful? As I watched dogs checking each other out (including me) I could sense that we all felt like kindred spirits. We knew that we’d all come from similar situations and our recognition of a shared past and a hopeful future created a bond that we could all feel.
“But here’s the best part and why this is a love letter. I wouldn’t ever have been at the picnic—or anywhere else—if Old Dog Haven hadn’t rescued me and my person hadn’t welcomed me into his home and heart. I have a family now. They love me and I love them. It’s all good.
Check out the group picture of all of us. I’m every dog in the photograph.