On Gifts Given and Received

Sweet Sophie…

This has been one of those full days, a day where you expend lots of emotional energy and get a lot in return. As our holiday free time wanes, we are working hard to check things off of our December bucket list. My sweet Dan had promised me that if we were financially able, we would head to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society to make a donation, as we try to do every year. I am a big believer in our local humane societies and shelters- they have provided me with some of the animals I have loved most in this world. Giving back to them makes my heart so happy- and knowing that my husband feels the same just makes my heart swell. 


I have always had a soft spot for animal shelters. My soul dog Guinness, a basset/spaniel mix, was adopted at the Tampa Humane Society at the age of two and was one of the great joys of my life for sixteen years. The dogs we had when I was growing up came from shelters, and I can still clearly remember walking with my mother down the concrete paths between the cages filled with barking dogs. How scary it must be for the animals to be in a place filled with such chaos and change. I just always pray they find their ways to good and loving homes. 

We originally adopted our Sophie, a Border collie mix, at GBHS to be a companion for my elderly mother who lived down the street from us. Sophie was ‘Lily’ then, and had been surrendered at the age of seven months by her owners. Still a puppy- and mostly Border collie at that- she should have been the worst choice for my mother…but she wasn’t. From the beginning she was sweet and gentle, and she and I bonded over our daily walks and play. She came to live with us when Mom moved into our home, and stayed, having been joined at the hip with our Cooper since we found Coops as a tiny puppy abandoned in the alley behind our home. The two are inseparable. 

As I walked slowly down each of the paths between the glassed-in stalls in GBHS’s beautiful facility, my emotional response was the same as it always has been since I was a child walking through Animal Control in Tampa with my mother. My eyes welled up and my heart hurt to see all of the beautiful animals in need of homes. Some of them stared pleadingly at us, some barked frantically, some looked resigned.  I felt helpless, wanting to be able to give more, to take more animals into our home. I do my best to realize that Dan and I are giving wonderful lives to three animals that needed us, and we would not be able to give good quality of life to more animals or ourselves if we added to that number. 

We saw a dog that looked exactly like our Akita/Chow/black Lab Cooper in one of the stalls, and my heart lurched thinking that Coops could very well have ended up in a place like this or in Animal Control. It was hard to leave that dog. What I can do, though, is to donate, to spread the word, and to adopt our pets from the shelter when the time comes again. When I retire, I will become a volunteer at the shelter. 

There is no one right way to bring an animal into your home, but I love knowing that I’ve helped animals in some small way by adopting, giving a dog or cat another chance at a loving home. The return from that investment is absolutely priceless. I wiped away my tears and drove home, giving some extra love to the three fur butts, the three wonderful gifts, that were waiting to welcome us. 

2 thoughts on “On Gifts Given and Received

  1. Thank you for helping in the way you are able. I work at my local Humane Society. I don’t know if your shelter does this, but mine allows people to donate or sponsor the adoption fee of specific animals. So if one touches a person’s heart, even if tbey can’t adopt, they can sponsor all or part of that animal’s adoption fee and hopefully get them in to a home sooner. Thanks again for giving. I know your shelter very much appreciates it.


    1. JoAnne, I love that your shelter allows people to sponsor all or part of the adoption fees for specific dogs – I will check into that at GBHS. What a beautiful idea. I wish I could afford to sponsor them all, but I know that our donations help- and there were others there making donations. The gentleman in front of us must have made a very large donation, as the girl’s eyes got big and she said, “Wow- that will keep us going for quite a while!” Made me happy. Happy New Year to you!

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