“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Seneca
Gilda Radner is quoted as having said that dogs, through their unconditional love, are the “role model for being alive.” Countless books have been written about all they teach us, and we see the extraordinary work performed by service and search and rescue dogs. As our companions, they capture our hearts, enhance our lives, and become our best friends.
I am the rescue coordinator for Hungarian Vizslas in the region, covering several states. When individuals, families, or shelters need to surrender their dog, they find our rescue and contact me to rehome them. Dogs come in for a variety of reasons: some have had people trouble, dog trouble, health and/or behavioral trouble. Some, no trouble at all. And while I have had some difficult cases, the majority come from loving homes who faced one of the hardest decisions they ever had to make.
When I reflect on my work with rescue, I realize that it is, for reasons too many to convey here, the most fulfilling “work” I feel I’ve ever done. The dogs and I find ourselves in the space between great heartache at the goodbye and the joy and promise at what is to come. Rescue work can be a constant reminder of the very essence of life in many ways: its ebbs and flows, sorrows and joys, endings and beginnings. I have had burly, grown men sob as they hand me the leash; I’ve had families tear up in happiness as they then take it, welcoming a new family member to accompany their little ones through childhood or become a friend to one who has experienced loss and loneliness. I feel a great responsibility to be fully present in the receiving and the giving, cognizant and kind in light of the complex emotions involved in surrender, and in the reassurance I try to provide. I am there to say “I am sorry you are going through this” and ask them to have faith in the process and to trust it. To trust me, really. I have a different perspective and can see further, out into the group of wonderful people I have waiting for my call, with so much love to give.
In times of great uncertainty in my life, I try to think of God as trying, again and again, to get me to trust as well, even when things may not make sense and are difficult and uncertain, my heart aching with worry. For He sees further than I can even imagine.
I was a child when I first heard the saying, “Dog is God spelled backwards.” Not only do I see God in the unconditional love of a dog, but in the goodness of those who help me in rescue, in the gratitude of those who both surrender and adopt, in the hope of a new beginning and in the joy that comes from love.
Audrey Wood Corcoran
Appointed readings for today: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Luke 13:31-35