The Herald Bulletin

March 30, 2013

Maleah Stringer: Thanks to all who open their homes, hearts

By Maleah Stringer
For The Herald Bulletin

— A man came to us on a Monday about his beloved 12-year-old dog.

He told us that he is terminally ill and he cannot have Artie where he is going in Michigan. He was very concerned as to what would happen to Artie; he had no family or friends able to take Artie into their home.

He wanted as much time as possible with Artie so arrangements were made for him to bring Artie in right before he had to leave the state. We promised him we would do our best for Artie.

My staff and volunteers were all working on a plan to get Artie into a home as soon as possible. The dreaded day came when man and his beloved Artie would part. The man left sobbing and Artie, whimpering watched his human drive away. Everyone who saw this goodbye was a sobbing mess. We still did not have a home for Artie.

I remembered Jill, who had adopted our elderly Angie a few weeks before. She adopted her on a Monday so that Angie could live out her remaining time in a home surrounded by love. We got the phone call that she had peacefully passed in her sleep with Jill by her side two days later. It was a bittersweet ending — happy that Angie did not have to spend her remaining time in a shelter but sad that she was only able to know Jill and her family’s love for such a short time.

I didn’t know if they would be ready emotionally to take Artie; I decided to try. I told Jill the story. And I admit; I plucked her heartstrings.No, I grabbed them with both hands and pulled as hard as I could. Jill didn’t hesitate; Artie’s new favorite spot is on the couch with Jill. He’s been to the vet and has to have some major dental work but other than that he’s in good shape for an old guy. He should be around for awhile.

Jill will be in contact with Artie’s owner to let him know that Artie does not have to live out his remaining time in a shelter — that he will be well loved and well cared for the rest of his life. We kept our promise. We hope that it gives him peace as he continues on his life journey without Artie by his side.

And though this is a bittersweet story it does provide solace for the rest of us. It helps to remember that there are good, compassionate people in the world who step up by offering their love to ease suffering or to help others when the need is there. We need to hear the “Jill” stories — they give us hope and promise in an often uncertain and cruel world. Artie and his sick owner matter; Jill’s act of love has made a difference to all of us who have been involved.

So “thank you” to the “Jills” (male and female) of the world who open your hearts and homes to people and animals alike when the need is there. I believe this is an act of unconditional love; it feels that way to me and we all are basking in the promise.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at maleahstringer@aol.com.