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Letters to a Dog

Written by  January 31, 2004

While the author of these letters is unknown, unfortunately, the circumstances are not unknown to many puppies and kittens found in area animal shelters a few months after Christmas. Now is the perfect time to propose that your club organize a benefit ride for your favorite charity. You know you're going to ride, so why not make it for a worthy cause. Eleven years ago, someone did just that and asked Gail Worth to sponsor a ride to benefit Wayside Waifs Humane Society. This ride has become an annual event and is appropriately named Putt for Mutts. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 22. Mike and I have participated by riding and assisting Wayside staff at the shelter on the day of the event. The six animals pictured here are available for adoption. Many more are on Wayside's web site, so pick out your perfect match. Check our local rally and events page throughout the year for upcoming benefit rides.

January 6

Dear Dog,
I saw you for the first time today, just a couple houses from mine, the school bus stopped to let out your kids, and your mom opened the front door to let you run out to greet them. You are a wiggly, bouncy, and happy little puppy with a full belly and a shiny coat. Your kids picked you up, hugged you, held you and toted you inside. Your tail was wagging the entire time. I thought to myself, how sweet, what a way to end a long hard day. I spoke to your mom this evening and she said that they got you from the animal shelter, and the kids named you Lucky.

March 10

Dear Lucky,
I saw you today as I always do on my way home from work. You were already outside to greet the kids today, which seemed odd. The little girl got off the bus and shooed you away, she appeared to not want you jumping on her. The boy got off the bus and gave you a quick pat on the head, then smelled his hand and brushed you aside. You looked confused and sad, as you went to lie by the porch. You curled up in a tight ball on the cold ground and let out a huge sigh. My heart felt heavy that day.

March 21

Dear Lucky,
I saw you today as I was headed home and the kids got off the bus, walked to the house, and you ran out as far as you could on your heavy chain to let them know you were there. The little girl ignored you, the little boy told you to be quiet when you barked for his attention. My neighbor commented that they needed to do something with your barking because you keep them up at night. You had a bucket of water and a bowl of food, a relatively nice doghouse, but your eyes were sad and empty. I shook my head and let out a huge sigh.

April 30

Dear Lucky,
I worried about you today. You look thin, your chain heavy on your neck, your coat is dirty and falling out, you don't get up to do much anymore. Your bucket is turned over, and I have not seen your food bowl for a few days. I spoke to the neighbor and asked about you. He said you still bark at night and he saw the man of the house throw something at you the other day as he scolded you. I shook my head in despair as I went back into my house.

June 4

Dear Lucky,
My heart sank today, as I was headed home and you weren't in your yard. A large part of me hoped you got away while another large part of me was frightened at all the other possibilities. I asked my neighbor about you, and he said your family went on vacation and sent you back to the animal shelter. I shook my head and cried for you as I went into my house.

June 5

Dear Dog,
I went to the shelter today and found you huddled in the back of a cage that had a bucket, a bowl of food, and a blanket for you to lie on. You looked up at me as if you knew me, and my heart broke as I read your card. They did not even care enough to give them your name and the card simply said, 'male, neutered, retriever mix. Owners did not want.’ I cried when a gentleman from the kennel said, 'That's a sad one there. He came from here you know, at Christmas. Guess they just got tired of him. He's so frightened now that no one will adopt him.' I went to the counter and told them I would be back tomorrow and to please not do anything yet. They kind of nodded like they had heard that before.

June 6

Dear Dog,
I brought you home today. You were scared and untrusting, but a small part of you somewhere allowed you to wag the tip of your tail when I told you that you were a good boy and that I loved you. I gave you a new name, 'Happy,” because you aren't now and I hoped that someday you would be. You had an accident on the floor, and when I came back to clean it up with a paper towel, you slunk down and whimpered as if the hand was coming for you. I tried to choke back the tears when I thought of what you must have gone through in the past six months. I reached out and patted you and your eyes closed and your body went limp at such a gentle gesture. 'You're going to be alright,' I told you. I showed you your food and you ate voraciously, and you marveled at the treats and toys I got for you.

December 25

Dear Happy,
Good morning my best friend! You woke me, as always, popping out from under the covers on your side of the bed, licking my face to tell me it was time for our walk. We went through the living room and you sniffed what Santa left for us. I hugged you and said, 'Last year you were a Christmas gift, now this year, these gifts are yours!' Your coat is shiny, your belly always full, and even though we found out at your first vet visit you had heartworms, you are healthy now. As we went out for our walk, we saw your old family in the front yard, they looked at you as if they recognized you, but you don't give them a second glance. Then I believe both of our hearts stopped as we saw the children emerge from the yard holding a small playful puppy. 'Isn't she just precious? We got her from the animal shelter. Hope this one works out, the other dog we got from there was so much trouble.' I sighed and refrained from pointing out that you were not the trouble. You looked up at me as if to say, 'Thank you mom.' I kneeled down and whispered in your sweet ear, 'No, it is I who thank you.'

Hope to see you at the 12th annual Putt for Mutts. Remember, an animal is a living, feeling being that depends on their owners for everything. They will need love, patience and kindness while being housebroken and taught manners. There are no bad pets, just those who need a good foundation to start off life. A pet is for life, and a pet is family.

Story by Margaret Liggett