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Rated: E · Essay · Contest Entry · #1964081
When it comes to love, you must do what's right!
I arrived early my first day of volunteering at the shelter, in anticipation of the precious upcoming moments with these furry little orphans. The low census thrilled me. It meant fewer homeless critters imprisoned in the cells. Looking around I wondered where to begin. Staring back at me were six sets of pathetic, imploring, chocolate eyes. I moved past them to take a peek at the puppies. As I approached the puppy pen, I could still hear the barks and whines of disdain coming from the disappointed group left behind. The sound was heart wrenching and I had to fight back tears of empathy for their plight. Looking into the pen, I noticed two sleeping pups, all nestled up together.

Returning to the holding cells for the older, yet innocent prisoners, I held two leashes in my hands. I began at the first kennel I came to. I allowed the pair to sniff my hands and indicate their acceptance of me. Cautiously, I opened the kennel door just enough to wedge myself inside. I was greeted by their enthusiastic displays of pleasure. "It's a good thing I like doggie kisses, just spare the face, okay?"

Leashes in place, I reopened the kennel door. The eager duo initiated the walk by dragging me to the back door of the shelter. No doubt, they knew the routine much better than I. For the first few minutes, it was debatable as to whom was walking whom. However, within a few moments they settled to a more relaxed pace. I was pleased to discover my shoulders were still intact from the previous moments.

Back inside, I secured them in their kennel, which was freshened up in their absence. I patted the furry heads and bid them goodbye, moving on to the next pair. I repeated this process again, until all six had their thirty minutes of semi-freedom and some loving human interaction.

Now, it was time to cuddle and play with the little ones. What a sad start to life theirs was. I was determined I would do everything in my power to introduce them to the loving touch and words of a human, one who would never sentence them to these cold and lonely beginnings. How I adore dogs, but maybe this volunteer thing encapsulates more heartache than I was cut out to deal with.

The pups were awake now and began whimpering the moment they heard my approach. I couldn't wait to touch them and be bathed in their sweet, puppy breath kisses. I carried them to the play area, once they were both safe inside, I climbed over the three foot wall and joined them, bringing along some toys and a handful of little treats. I sat on the cold concrete floor, and the two playful fur babies were all over me. It was nothing short of pure bliss.

I leaned back against the wall, and they climbed me as a child would a play set. It was clear they weren't siblings. One appeared to be a Lab mix and the other a Shepherd or Shepherd mix. They took no notice of the toys; I was the preferred plaything. They chewed my fingers, plastered me in their little kisses, and exhausted themselves. By now, my volunteer shift had passed, but I just couldn't part with the pups quite yet. The Shepherd pup wiggled her way up my chest, little grunts escaping her as she worked to climb up to nestle between my shoulder and neck burying her face under my hair. The other, curled up in my lap. I spoke in a soft and loving tone to them, stroking their little bodies.

I was startled when a burly man spoke to me, reminding me my shift was up. I asked if I could stay just a while more. He hesitated, looking uncomfortable. He explained the euthanizing would be commencing soon, and it was preferred volunteers not be present.

My stomach began to feel as if a thousand worms were crawling around inside of it. I offered to stay with the puppies and clear of the death chamber, which was their idea of 'humane' treatment. He apologized and shared the news that one of the pups snuggled and content upon me was on 'the list'. He offered to walk me out.

Tears welled in my eyes. My entire being flooded with immense pain and sadness. The puppy snuggled at my neck grunted. I prayed it wasn't going to be her. I was especially fond of this one. But, he confirmed that it was indeed her on 'the list'. The tears came shamelessly coursing down my cheeks, my heart aching so deeply. I clutched her to me tightly, refusing to let go.

Without even realizing what I was saying, I blurted out that I would adopt her, promising a wonderful, safe and loving home. The man was losing his patience with me now. To do this job, I guess it was almost warranted that one must become cold and detached from all caring, human feelings, in the line of duty. He simply told me that it wasn't possible for me to adopt her because once on 'the list', they are deemed ineligible. I was flabbergasted and outraged!

Let's just say that when I left that facility, I had my puppy and was instructed never to return for volunteer duty again.
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