Parts of this post originally published in 2013. Updated with Spirit whispers on recent winds. And fresh hope.
It was another face on the website that brought us to this particular shelter on this particular day. But we were not the only ones who fell for the Buckwheat Lab, so he was spoken for before we arrived.
As we moved past the other kennels, it became the combined job of the heart and the gut to help us find the right canine fit for our family.
She stood out to me for all the reasons she was different from the others. Quiet among the barking. Still among the tail-wagging. “The Dalmatian,” I said to my husband after the first pass by. She was nervous and shaking as the shelter staff brought her into the yard to meet us. Tail between her legs. Head down. But when my husband knelt to say hello, and she put her head on his shoulder, I knew she’d be coming home with us.
We named her Hope.
She had reason to be unsure of things. Recently rescued from Florida hurricanes and put on a plane to Colorado, there was no way of knowing what she’d been through. How long she had to survive on her own. What family she may have lost. How she was treated before the storms left her homeless.
It took time before she felt safe in the yard. Time before she stopped shaking. Time before she came to the call of her name with affection, not shame. Time before she could trust.
And I think that’s what Hope is like.
Hope comes to us a little skittish. A little burned from past experiences. Hope comes unsure of herself and if she’ll be welcome to stay for good.
And then Hope comes alive a little at a time until she turns to trust.
Ten years later and Hope has settled in. Hope senses when we are sad and curls up close. Hope takes charge when she feels there may be any threat and keeps it at bay. Hope is confident making her needs known and demands to be fed. Because a strong Hope is better than a hungry one.
It took some time for Hope to feel at home. To find her place. To be at peace.
Watching her now — and knowing her then — gives me… Well, it gives me Hope.
That hope skittish and scarred — that faith tiny and timid — that life fragile and frightened is the exact kind that makes itself at home. And never leaves.
Photo credit: The Hope Tree by 24 Degree Design. http://www.24d-studio.com/hope-tree.html