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Taffy

 Our security cameras captured the abandonment in detail but left more questions than answers.  On a hot  & humid day this summer, a nice  and newer vehicle pulled up to  our entrance gate shortly after noon. Out stepped a well-dressed younger man, looking much better groomed than the dirty dog  he held under one of his arms. He set the dog at his feet near the gate, fidgeting with something at the dog's neck. Then he got in his car, and drove down the road, leaving the dog in the dust as he pulled away.

A short time later, two Home for Life employees, who were leaving to take their lunch break, drove down the driveway- and found an elderly, blind dog, tied the gate post  with tennis shoe laces .

 Home for Life has never had to search for animals who need our help. Even with so much progress made on many fronts in animal welfare- high volume, low cost spay neuter services, education, transports moving animals from parts of the country with a surplus of animals to locations with a demand, and more and more rescues groups  working to find new adoptive homes for pets- there are still many  animals  that need  a Home for Life, the “Third Door” in animal welfare.   Requests  come in daily from near and far- many more than we can help with our present resources. 

But rarely are animals in need delivered to our door as  Taffy was- tied to our gate and left for us to find. 

We are so grateful that we found Taffy sooner than later- before he died from thirst or heat stroke on the humid summer day. Or before he broke free of the worn shoelaces, tied tightly around his neck, that secured him to our gate post- and wandered onto the busy road. Old and blind, he could have never dodged an oncoming car and would have surely been killed  instantly or fatally injured .

 Taffy must have  had someone who cared about him at one time. He wasn't starving, he was gentle, and he was neutered. Was this a heartless abandonment?  Was the young guy who tied him to our gate a “Robin Hood” who saw Taffy being neglected and brought him to Home for Life, knowing we would help? Had his former owners cared about him but like so many others, fallen on hard times and become unable to take care of their dog any longer? Had his former owners tried to find a rescue or had they considered giving him up a shelter only to be turned away or told that their old dog was not adoptable and should be euthanized? 

 We'll  never know the answers to these questions but somehow, someone knew that Taffy would be cared for at Home for Life.

 He can't tell us – so Taffy's past will forever remain a mystery. But more important than his past is his  future- a future made possible because of donations from our wonderful supporters.

EXTREME MAKEOVER

 Taffy was confused and frightened when our staff found him tied to our gate post- and very thirsty! He was grateful to be offered a dish of cold water,and drank nearly the whole bowl. One of our staff held and comforted him,until he stopped crying and trembling from fear, as we looked him over to be sure he wasn't injured. A miniature poodle mix – but it was clear he hadn't been brushed or   groomed for months. His fur was grown out, matted and his nails were so long, he could hardly walk. 

Even though he was found before he was  injured, he still needed to see a veterinarian given his neglected condition. That same day, our vet was able to examine Taffy.  The exam revealed he was blind from large cataracts over both eyes and was approximately 12-13 years old. He had arthritis in his back, but medicine to make him more comfortable would help.  And this is the story of how Taffy found a new Home for Life at our sanctuary.

We gave him a few days to settle in to our daily routine at the sanctuary. Taffy joined a small group of older and gentle smaller dogs who accepted and welcomed him. Soon, he felt at home, and even though blind, he learned his way around his new home and even out the dog door to the enclosed  outdoor run. He learned about mealtimes and treat time from his new friends, and was soon barking right alongside of them in anticipation of both!   

 It was time to uncover the dog that was under all that tangled and matted fur!

 Within a  a few days of his abandonment,  Home for Life brought Taffy to a dog groomer who gave him a good bath and trimmed away the dirty fur. Two hours later, the  transformation was complete and, we had a dog that was unrecognizable from the neglected animal that had been left alone and unwanted at our gate. He looked beautiful, and we could tell he thought he looked great too.  The loving   care that is the hallmark of Home for Life had restored Taffy's well-being.     

“YOU HELP THE ANIMALS NO ONE ELSE WILL HELP”

An unwanted  animal who enters a rescue or shelter has had only two ways to leave-they may be lucky enough to be adopted or they may become part of this sad annual statistic:  between 3 and 4 million euthanized each year. Many animal welfare groups are working to end this unnecessary extermination of dogs and cats in pounds and shelters.  But their focus is on the animals who can be easily placed into new homes.  Taffy's story puts a face on the  tragic reality that, among this shocking number of animals killed each year, are many dogs and cats who will not find another chance   because they are old, disabled,  or  have a medical condition or behavior challenge. 

One longtime supporter told me she supports Home for Life because “ we help the animals no one else will.”   You see, with all the shelters and rescues out there ,when Taffy needed help and a safe place to land, someone brought him to us and not to another rescue and not to another shelter. He knew that we would help a dog like Taffy when other shelters and rescues- focused on cats and dogs easily saved and adopted- would not and would have turned him away  or put him down.

FROM HOMELESS.... TO HOME FOR LIFE

Taffy is  a dog who would have never found a safe landing at a conventional shelter or rescue focused on adoption yet is now safe and happy at Home for Life. The most important  mission of Home for Life is to show what's  possible -that |animals  who want to live and can live deserve  that opportunity  even if the next chapter of their life can't be in an adoptive home.  Our animals know that each phase of life is precious and that a home can be defined in many ways.

All Taffy had was hope when he was tied to our gate- a neglected and blind, unwanted and nameless old dog.  But animals, even ones as desperate as Taffy, have the capacity to hope for better days ahead , and inspire us with their ability to live in the present to make the best of all that is good in their lives. |That hope is something that should be cherished and protected in ALL  animals and especially in those who are most vulnerable. Home for Life, the third door in animal welfare, offers hope to dogs and cats like Taffy who otherwise would have none at all. |

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