Many of you know that I had the pleasure of volunteering for the amazing rescue group, Blue Dog Rescue. During that time I fostered around 13 dogs and transferred probably 100 more out of a rural shelter and into a no-kill facility or to other rescue groups on the mother ship.
Those numbers pale in comparison to the number of dogs the other members of the group have rescued, but I am quite proud of what I was able to contribute nonetheless.
One adorable puppy I was able to adopt out fairly quickly was a lab/cattle dog mix I named Zoe. Zoe went to one of the most outgoing, enthusiastic people I have ever met, S. S and I became friends and kept in touch even after she moved to another state, to Switzerland, and then back to the mother ship again. While overseas, she was totally blindsided by her husband when he told her he wanted to divorce her. Seriously, these were the people you assumed had the greatest marriage ever. S came back to the mother ship and struggled to find a new job and start anew, all the while keeping a smile on her face (at least when I saw her) and a positive attitude. About a month ago I learned that S had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she had moved back to her hometown for the support of her family when she received the diagnosis. S is only 40 years old. She teaches pilates and yoga (even while going through chemo!) and was a vegetarian for years. She takes care of her body, and yet here she is. Her prognosis is excellent, and I have enjoyed cheering her on via her Caringbridge journal. Even though S and I are on very different paths, I can relate to the spiritual questions she is asking herself. I think anytime we experience something really major - really life-altering - we have to become introspective and seek out the bigger questions, the purpose of it all, and how we can become better because of it. This doesn't have to be in a 'God' way. Well, I should say more specifically that it doesn't have to be in a Christian God way. I haven't yet committed to going down any particular spiritual path, or many spiritual paths for that matter, but I have begun to feel that need within me to find greater meaning and hopefully solace from some source.
This wasn't meant to be a post about spirituality. Aside from S, I just got another email last week from K, a woman I adopted my very most special foster dog, Zuma, to after fostering Zuma for nine months. Zuma was extraordinarily special to me. I connected with this dog better than I do with my own three dogs. I secretly never wanted to find a perfect, forever home for her until I met K. K had fostered dogs at one time, and was the loving owner to a very old mixed-breed dog named Max. She wanted to adopt a younger friend to keep Max happy and as active as possible. Zuma fit in there perfectly, and though it absolutely crushed me to leave her at K's house, I knew it was the right thing to do. Not even a year after K had adopted Zuma, Zuma was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of lymphoma. She had to be humanely euthanized a couple of weeks later. K was heartbroken. I was heartbroken. Though K & I had not really hung out during the time she had Zuma, after Zuma passed it was evident that K and I shared a bond through that wonderfully amazing animal. We made it a point to keep in contact ever since. About a month or so ago, K had to finally put down her other elderly dog; no doubt very hard on her as well, though this dog had lived a long, full life. So for another friend it was a rough year of loss, even if some people might debate the impact losing pets could possibly have on a person. But back to the email from last week...K, also a 40-year-old, very active and healthy woman, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unlike S, it sounds as though K's was not caught quite as early and she will have to undergo drastic surgery to stop it.
I have this completely irrational feeling that I need to contact every female I ever adopted a dog to in order to warn them to go get a mammogram. Isn't that ridiculous? But seriously, what are the chances of this? Their diagnoses have made me realize that we are getting older and that no one is invincible to hardship and disease. Why do some people have to carry such burden and meet such obstacles while others do not? Why are so many people getting cancer? Why are so many people diagnosed with autism? Are the preservatives and pesticides in our food, or the chemicals in our water to blame for all of it? I so wish I knew the answers once and for all.
But in the meantime, listen to your bodies. Do your monthly breast exams. Get a yearly physical. Do it!!
And swing on over to S's site and offer her a word of encouragement. She is amazing in light of all of this.