A rescued dog is the most rewarding act


My husband, Eldad, was on his way to a crowded animal shelter to see a dog who, according to him, “had a horrible photo.” Labeled a terrier mix, and has already stayed over a week. We are full time dog rescuers so we are used to the inevitable.

I got a call: “You won’t believe how cute this dog is and he’s already spayed so he’s coming home with me today.” Later that afternoon, I walked into our home to be greeted by our two white rescue terriers and this furry ball of fluff who licked me like I was his best friend. “Oh, you look like a pumpkin,” I said. And so Pumpkin instantly became part of the family. Eventually we would have to find her a foster home, but she was so soft and potty trained and so perfect /

Two days later, Eldad and I had to go talk to a class of children at an author’s festival about the dogs and other creatures we had raised in our house … We had no idea what we were going to say, so we brought our book and we brought in Pumpkin as an example of how a rescued dog is a friendly and lovable dog. I just hoped Pumpkin wasn’t too scary. I had her tied up and planned to have her on my lap the entire time.

The children were in second grade and they were very polite and caring and I realized that they were too young to really be exposed to the term “euthanasia” and that it would be inappropriate to tell horror stories of abused animals. Eldad presented a power point presentation of photos of many of the dogs and cats and other creatures that we had kept in the house. The kids exclaimed ooh and aah and then all of a sudden Pumpkin jumped off my lap. As if possessed, Pumpkin dove into the crowd of children like she was a rock star throwing herself into the crowd.

The mood immediately changed and suddenly everyone went crazy for Pumpkin. She had been abandoned all her life and had never received so much love and affection from so many people at the same time. It was as if he instinctively knew “I have to get the message across, the stray dogs in the kennel are the coolest dogs in the world.” The hugging and cuddling festival was amazing and instead of a stiff presentation, we now had a really relaxed and exciting dialogue with the students.

Now we learned to let Pumpkin work its magic. She walked diplomatically around the class and let each second grader have equal time to pet her.

These little ones were filled with questions and did not stop raising their hands with comments and in the end they asked for our autographs.

When Eldad, Pumpkin, and I finished the day and left campus, most of the students were outside at the tables having lunch. The moment they saw us, they started yelling, “Pumpkin!”

I had an army of kids chasing me trying to get to the superstar Pumpkin. Their teacher informed me that most of these children were first generation born in the United States and were not culturally exposed to animals as “part of the family.”

It is surprising to think that this dog who had had such an impact in a few hours on so many people, just two days before, sitting in a cage, was considered not worth living.

There are many pumpkins facing the same fate, and hopefully someday these youngsters will remember that you chose to save an animal rather than support puppy mills and pet stores. Maybe other Pumpkins will have loving homes instead of being torn apart by the pound. I can only hope.

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