Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen
“The beautiful dog awoke from its deep sleep dreamland. Before remembering his recent rescue, a bolt of concern ran through him from all those rude awakenings, and days and nights of fear. He could hear the comfortable long snooze of his new best friend just a few feet away. His tail slowly wagged once, and then once again as he took in his first morning sniff of his new day. He realized he was warm, and dry and had food in his stomach. And his old sad and fearful memories drifted back further as they had every morning since arriving, replaced with the joyful anticipation of a new day in his beautiful home, with his beautiful new family. His friend yawned widely. Rufus caught his eye, ‘Is this doggie heaven?’ ‘No, but when we get there, there’ll be a piece missing. This is it.’” –Eugene Ferris, June 2023

Working in animal rescue is not for the faint of heart. Just when you feel as if you can take no more sad stories, welcome no more hungry and abused animals through your gate because your place is full, then along comes another and you cannot say no. The weight on your heart would be too much to bear, knowing the inevitability of the unwanted under these difficult circumstances.

We took in three cows, not knowing cows at all — or wanting to — (truthfully it was two cows, but Mama was pregnant, so yeah, three). We have a fully grown boy steer who loves to govern the meadow and give us an understanding of why steers quickly become part of the food chain, but he’s our pet, albeit a very large boy-cow with brute horns to match. We raised him from a youngster, and we struggle against doing what normal people might in this situation.

When my three amigos, my golden oldies — Baxter, Roscoe and Sophie — all passed in rapid succession to one another, Solace went down to a rather manageable level of five canines — a far cry from the 11 during the height of early-crazy rescue days. “Oh, this is so doable,” I recall almost congratulating myself. But then Stella arrived on our doorstep in a bird cage, Lizzie took my heart on the corner of Metz and 146, and Rufus, well, Rufus was going to be euthanized for lack of space at the shelter, and who needs that on their conscience, so he came along too.

“Can someone please go pick up that dog?” “Will somebody please save that baby from death, he’s out of time?” The cries are constantly out there for someone else to get out there and do the right thing for a creature in the animal world. Leaves a sour taste in the mouth. “I cannot take him in,” comes another screech. “I have a dog already!”

I do feel privileged to live where we do with some space around us. I try not to judge the well meaning out there, who share and share and do nothing proactive to save the animals; but I like to think that Solace steps up where she can and helps wherever possible, even if it’s not remotely convenient. It’s what we do.

We took in Rufus — my first Shepherd — and he blended so quickly into the pack, it was as if he had just arrived like the Mary Poppins of dogs into a welcome situation that was expecting him all along. Normally, they say that a shelter/rescue dog coming from a nasty abandonment situation of being dumped and left to starve out in the wilderness will take a long time to acclimatize, settle, adjust, relax in a regular home. Not Rufus. He blended the first day he met everyone at Solace, as if to say, “Oh, thanks very much for all the trouble. I’m home now. I knew I’d get there in the end!”

Though there was a little adoption interest in him once we started posting him on social media, as an older boy with health issues we felt it better for him to just stay where he obviously wanted to be, amongst the family who had been waiting for him all along. Even now, a very short period of time since he arrived at Solace, I find myself questioning any little character quirks, as if he should have got over that by now. Err, slow down, tiger. It has been almost no time at all in the rescue scheme of things. And so, we make this rescue lark look easy, which it is not at all; but I have an expectation from my rescue pack that they accept rescues into their fold the way they were equally rescued. Mostly this works out.

And then Marty desperately needed out of the shelter. Another shepherd. If you wonder why I bang on about rescuing animals and not buying from a breeder, just look around you at all the shepherds, huskies, pit bulls and more that deserve love and life. You do not need to be breeding any more dogs or birthing any more puppies if you take a good, honest look at the overpopulated dog world out there. Making money out of this dire situation is obscene. These poor rescue coordinators at the shelters are begging rescues from other states to help, crying out loud to their local rescue organizations to dig deep for a foster to step up and save a life. Stop the backyard breeding, for crying out loud.

“I hate to ask, but I’m going to,” she approached SCAR. “Could Lucy take Marty? We are out of options for him.” Another older shepherd failed by humans and ignored by other people who might be able to help him. Of course, Lucy is going to help. The Sanctuary at Solace is underway for exactly souls like Marty who deserve another chance at a better life. He may be 7, but that is not old. He may have some skin issues, but that is not an unusual thing. Marty can decompress in the sanctuary and then likely graduate rather quickly to the interior of Solace like the rest of them. Who abandons an animal? How some people live with themselves I do not know.

“And so, Marty arrived at yet another place that he knew not, a place he hoped he could stay at for a while, eat a lot of good food and drink a lot of cold water. He also hoped he could catch up with some sleep on a nice cozy bed and not be afraid of what might find him of a night when he was unprotected, or during the day when he was seeking scraps of food and dirty field water. He dreamed that his forever home was right around the corner, a place where he could be loved as he liked to love and treated as he equally liked to treat. Marty wasn’t going to create a big old fuss — he just wanted to feel safe and secure with his people. We are planning all of this for Marty.” –Lucy, June 2023

P.S. South County Animal Rescue (SCAR) pulled both Rufus (Cooper) and Marty from the shelter in order to save both of their lives. Please support their upcoming fundraiser Pinot 4 Paws on June 25 at Manzoni Vineyards on River Road. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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