Has a rescued animal rescued you?

By Latrece Zahos Barcik

It was August of 2003. I had lost my dog, Frank, very suddenly, very traumatically, in September 2002. For the past eleven months, the entire house had felt the loss.

I hadn’t been able to make peace with the decision I’d had to make to let Frank go over the Rainbow Bridge. Our Aussie, Molson, had become moody and a little snappy with the cats, which was completely out of character for him. And my husband John was at a loss as to how to make me feel better about losing my dog.

I woke up on a sunny Saturday morning, and something was different. I woke up with one thought — I wanted a dog. My own dog. Molson was always John’s dog, and I wanted another Frank. We went to brunch with my parents to celebrate my dad’s birthday, and I announced that we were going to the animal control shelter afterward.

I think it probably shocked everyone, but I had it in my head and it was almost like something, some unknown force, was pushing me there. John didn’t want to go; he had other things he wanted to do that day, but I insisted. I was going with or without him.

We went with the idea of getting another Frank, a look-a-like, but I was really open to any dog. I remember the shelter being quite full. There was every kind of dog, every shape and size, old and young.

I had to look at them all. I passed by a pen with puppies…not interested. They were adorable, but I preferred to rescue an adult dog. In the next pen was a little black-and-white dog. He was short, from what I could tell. According to his card, he was a Corgi mix, a year or so old, and he’d been there seventeen days.

His “date out” was going to be on Monday. I knew what that meant. Poor guy. He had a collar but no tags. Obviously he’d been someone’s dog. Why had no one come looking for him? I talked to him softly and then moved on. John was getting impatient, as I’d seen every dog there and was going for another pass.

I went back to the little Corgi mix and talked to him some more. He came forward and put his paws up on the gate, then retreated, but our eyes were locked, and I felt it. In that moment I knew he was going to be MY dog. There was personality in him; I just knew it.

Everyone was cooing over the puppies next door. An animal control volunteer came by, asking if anyone wanted to meet with a dog. I took the little Corgi out for a walk in the designated area. It wasn’t anything special; he just seemed happy to be out.

I told John this was it. He told me I was nuts. He didn’t see what I saw. I said I thought the dog would be a great companion for Molson, who was eight by that time and didn’t need a spastic puppy bouncing around.

We filled out the paperwork, paid for my little “blob” (John’s description of him), and I rode with the dog, in the backseat, on the way home. By the time we got there, he had a name – Corky the Corgi. If his ears stood up, he really would look like a Cardi, but I think his ears are perfect as they are.

At first Corky was timid. Then he saw the half-acre of grass in the backyard and took off like a shot. Molson dashed after him to see his new brother. Corky ran and ran and ran some more. Molson was happier than I’d seen him in almost a year, and they seemed to bond almost instantly. My heart was suddenly lighter than it had been in almost a year. Corky just made me smile.

I spent all day trying to figure him out. As I suspected, he had been someone’s dog. He was housebroken, knew how to sit, learned his name, and was very sweet and obedient. He became a cat magnet right away. My cats loved to groom and love on him. He was an immediate hit, and I felt our family was complete again.

That was seven years ago, and Corki is as much of a joy now as he was the day he helped my heart begin to heal. He truly was the only thing that made it somewhat better. As anyone who has lost a pet knows, there are no replacements, but sometimes you find another to help fill the hole that’s left when we have to say goodbye.

I call Corky the therapy dog because I had been wondering if grieving for a dog for almost a year was normal and if I needed to see a doctor about it. No doctors needed, it turns out. Corky was the prescription to turning things around.

I vowed never to let grieving go that long again, and when we lost Molson in December 2008, I began pushing for another dog almost immediately. I saw everyone grieving including Corky but especially John. I knew the answer was to save another dog.

John resisted, but two months later we rescued Chloe, a golden retriever mix from the same shelter where we got Corky and Molson before him. Having experienced the same kind of grief that I did after Frank, John agreed that I was right to push for another. Not a replacement, as there are none. In saving a life, we have that deed returned. I believe that when we rescue a shelter dog, we truly save US.

I believe there was something that drew me to Corky that day. I believe we were meant to be his family. The Universe knew something that I didn’t, and I’m glad I listened.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/nlimage41.html to see a delightful image of Corky.

Latrece Zahos Barcik is a part-time pet sitter from Lawrenceville, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. In addition to Corky and her husband they have five cats and a dog named Chloe. They are all rescues.


Has a rescued animal rescued you?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family


You can pre-order our new book on Amazon.com, bn.com, and Borders.com. Endorsed by Betty White, Wendie Malick, Vanessa Williams, American Humane Association, Sonya Fitzpatrick, Linda Tellington-Jones, June Cotner, and Patrick McDonnell (creator of MUTTS).

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family

ORPHANS OF KATRINA, Book Review by Allen & Linda Anderson, Angel Animals Network

As we are nearing the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005 and the city’s levees breaking on August 30, a new book takes us back to the largest animal rescue operation in history. ORPHANS OF KATRINA by Karen O’Toole is a remarkable account of the author’s experiences while spending four months volunteering as an animal rescuer. She also served for several subsequent months by helping evacuees find lost pets.

Karen writes, “No one asked what it felt like to walk through vast suburbs, thick with homes, yet never find another person, never see a car move, never hear a bird chirp. No one asked what it was like to sleep on the toxic hot pavement of a parking lot with armed military guards all around so that you wouldn’t be killed at night. And most importantly, no one asked what it was like to live in a city full of entombed, dying pets unseen in the houses and apartments surrounding you. It was a citywide guessing game and we were losing. What was it like? What was it really like? No one asked.”

Karen has answered all those questions and many more with a book that has the pace and drama of a thriller. It chronicles in gripping narrative and through compelling photos the highs and lows of her gritty experiences. It truly is a book that every animal lover will want to read.

For our book, RESCUED: SAVING ANIMALS FROM DISASTER, we interviewed Karen and hundreds of others who searched for animals and reunited them with their families. We were able to touch upon many aspects of the animal rescue operation that was marked by chaos and passion. People who went to serve on the Gulf Coast told us that by reading our book they learned things about what was going on in other parts of the disaster area that they hadn’t heard while working down there.

Karen’s book, however, goes into great depth about the experiences of these animal rescue heroes. It takes readers on an unforgettable journey of a lifetime. Karen is an excellent, award-winning writer. Her book will keep you turning the pages.

We applaud Karen for telling and sharing these stories of animal rescue. Books like this make it less likely that animals will ever be left behind again. ORPHANS OF KATRINA deserves to be read widely. It will help to bring about changes in policy and practice. The book compellingly illustrates that it is imperative for human and animal families to be kept together through disasters and emergencies.

Visit www.orphansofkatrina.com for more about ORPHANS OF KATRINA.