His Name is Charlie

Photo credit Terry Moore: Columnist John Moore’s granddaughter walks her dog, Charlie.

Charlie is 7. Part Basset and part Beagle; he was placed in an animal shelter. Not once, but twice. That means he went through three different homes.

I can’t imagine.

Whoever had him first took him to the pound. Two families fostered Charlie from the shelter, but brought him back.

There are many reasons that people take in an animal and then change their mind, but to me, none of the reasons ever hold water.

If you commit to one of God’s living creatures, stay committed. It’s not a Buick that you test drive over the weekend and then take back on Monday.

I can’t imagine dropping a child that age off at an orphanage. But, that’s exactly what three different people did. They didn’t give Charlie a chance. They didn’t stay committed.

Consequently, at the animal shelter, Charlie was standoffish, sheepish, and didn’t have much hope in his eyes.

We’ve all seen movies with scenes like this, but this scene was real.

Charlie had never had a permanent home. I’m sure the feelings he experienced were much like we would have if we were shuffled from one place to another without ever being able to plant roots. I’ve seen this in foster children. It looks identical. And it’s painful to watch.

The first dog I remember having was named Socks. He came from a litter my grandmother’s dog had. Socks was a mutt that my dad named appropriately. He stole our socks.

We lived in a small, red brick house on Beech Street where Socks would join my sister and me as we played in the yard. He stayed right beside us, making sure that we were OK, while also being one of us.

We loved that dog.

Since Socks, I’ve had many dogs. The last few were rescues. They were dumped in the country and left for whatever fate awaited them. Fortunately, ours found homes. Most do not and meet an unpleasant end.

Puppies and kittens easily find a home. Older animals, not so much. Which is tragic.

It’s understandable if someone passes away or is displaced due to a natural disaster, but beyond that, there’s no reason not to do whatever it takes to keep an animal.

They counted on you. They took you at your word.

That’s something my father always tried to drill into me: If you don’t keep your word, you have nothing.

But people don’t keep their word like they used to, it seems. A handshake and a verbal commitment used to take the place of a written contract. And they were worth more than the contract.

It’s become obvious what happens when people don’t keep their commitments. Look around at the number of broken families and homeless animals.

A pet isn’t a part-time commitment. It’s full time. You have to go into adopting an animal with that mindset, or you shouldn’t go into it at all.

Charlie’s three attempts at a home didn’t pan out. But this one will. Our three grandchildren have never had a dog. But now they do. Now they all are a family.

When Charlie arrived at their home, he stayed in his kennel – still frightened, sheepish and with not much hope in his eyes. But, by all reports, he’s coming out of his shell. He’s beginning to trust. And to love and be loved.

And that’s what this world needs a whole lot more of right now. Love for all of God’s creatures.

If you’re going to adopt a pet, be committed. Keep your word.

And please consider adopting a pet that’s a little older. They know what you’ve done and they appreciate it.

As saying goes, “They are only part of your life, but you are all of theirs.”