“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
This post is inspired by a sweet little English Bulldog named Lola. But it’s really about finding your way Home. That incredibly special, one-of-a-kind place where you are safe…and loved…and protected from the hurt and loneliness that the world can sometimes bring. That place where you can fully exhale and be your true self.
It is also about those amazing people who give so much of their time, money and hearts, to help dogs like Lola find their way Home, no matter what the odds, or the amount of heartbreak involved.
No one really knows how old Lola was, but it was clear from looking at her when she first arrived that the years had been hard on her. She had likely been a puppy mill mom, forced to have litter after litter until her body was used up, and she had been found as a stray in Louisiana. The shelter there was actually planning to put her to sleep because she was in such bad shape. If that had happened, Lola would never have known what it was like to be pampered and cared for like a member of the family, and would have died believing that life was only about pain and fear.
But Pam, a volunteer with MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue (MABR), knew that Lola deserved more and saved her from this fate. When she came out of the van after her journey from Louisiana, “Everyone gasped,” says Pam. “You could tell they were thinking, ‘that poor dog’. But she marched out of that van and into my arms and we were a family from that day on.”
Pam knew when she adopted Lola that their time together might be short. Lola had mammary tumors — probably the result of the abuse her body suffered from having so many litters, and surgery was not an option. After all she had been through in her life, it would be too much. But despite this, Lola was welcomed with open arms, and open hearts, and finally found her forever home.
She adjusted to her new life of comfy couches, cozy beds and endless cuddles and kisses as if she had always known these things, and seemed to let go of the pain in her past without the bitterness that we humans often hold onto. She lived fully and happily in that safe and wonderful new place she called Home. It was everything she had always deserved.
Tragically, Lola and her family only had three short months together before the cancer quickly took her up to Heaven. But they were very good months. Lola had been given the opportunity to live a life that millions of animals never get. She died knowing that she was loved, with a family that she could always call her own, and one that I’m sure she will forever watch over in her new role as Guardian Angel. She was able to leave a legacy behind, with people who had the privilege of knowing who Lola really was, and who will never forget the smiles and joy that she brought into their life.
Who was Lola? “She was the SWEETEST bulldog I have ever had,” says Pam. “I never had to even tell her no — she was perfect. No matter how much it hurt her legs to run to me when I came home she would do it. She would go outside and learn to play with her soccer ball, she would let me put meds all over her, wipe her eyes and her face, get in the tub even when she knew it wouldn’t be fun….all because she was Lola. She was amazing.”
I don’t know if I could ever have the strength to adopt a dog like Lola. Not because I couldn’t love her, but because of the heartache that comes with saying goodbye too soon. But this is what amazing people like Pam and the many other wonderful volunteers at rescue groups like MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue do every single day. They take that risk and are willing to give all they have to save the lives of animals who have been neglected…abused…tossed aside like trash…and they give them a chance to finally experience the life that they deserve. A life filled with kindness, and respect, and so much love. Even with the sadness and frustration that comes along with the seemingly endless stream of animals in need, they keep going, and they keep fighting to change the world, one animal at a time.
In honor of beautiful Lola, and all of the other animals like her in need of medical care and a safe place to live, please consider a donation to MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue or a local rescue organization making a difference in your community Want to do even more? Here are five other things you can do to help:
- Support (or advocate for) legislation to ban puppy mills in your state.
- NEVER purchase an animal from a pet store, as these are often the best customers of puppy mills and other unethical animal breeding facilities.
- Have your dog spayed or neutered early. Some types of cancer, including mammary cancer, are almost 100% preventable if you spay or neuter when they are young AND it helps prevent pet overpopulation issues.
- Educate others about the horrors of puppy mills and the importance of supporting animal rescue organizations.
- If you are adopting a dog, consider getting an older one. They can be even sweeter and more grateful for your kindness than a young pup, and they still have just as much love to share!
If we all do a little, together we can achieve a lot.