During the Olympics, athletes made the news by saving the Sochi puppies. St. Louis Blues’ forward David Backes helped to facilitate their transfer and everyone fell in love with the efforts put forth to save our four legged friends. Hockey people are often dog people (yes, they’re cat, fish, turtle, horse, etc, people too.) Obviously not everyone is all about the animal rescue, but more often than not players are associated with pets. If I had to pick a favorite player in the NHL, it wouldn’t be based on goals on the ice, but how charitable they are off of it — especially when it comes to animals.
Something close to my heart is, has been, and will always be, animals. More specifically, animal cruelty and helping those less fortunate. I was taught to save everything, my mother is a kind woman. A little quirky at times, but aren’t we all. My mother has saved every animal you could possibly imagine that resides in the Northeast, earning her the nickname Nona, (a female take on Noah). Instead of having two of everything our family has had two to ten!
You name it and I probably had it as a pet growing up, it was also more likely than not named after a Disney character or something pertaining to hockey. I had Ariel and Winnie the sheep (which is remotely funny, as my good friends call me Winnie as a nickname for Winter), Flounder the turkey, Simba the cat, Belle the bunny, Byron and Dafoe the hermit crabs, Stanley the cat, Stanley, Bruin and Puck the fish and the list goes on and on. My family has never met an animal it wouldn’t rescue, rehab, foster, or love. The concept of helping animals in need was clearly programmed into me at a young age. Growing up it was a running joke that my Mom would probably choose an animal over her kids; in retrospect I’m not quite sure it was a joke and 78% of the time, I wouldn’t blame her if she had gone that route.
Regardless, I’ve been raised an animal lover through and through. While I’ve had all of the aforementioned pets plus a million more, none ever truly felt like mine. Until… Ryder. A little over two years ago, I went on a trip down to North Carolina with my brother to visit our sister. A hot sunny Carolina Sunday morning can be spent doing one of two things; going to church or perusing the flea market. Obviously, we chose the latter option.
This particular flea market was 500 tables of you don’t know what you’re going to find. Well around table 457, I found love. Of course you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy and that’s okay. But balanced on a piece of cardboard, on top of a wire chicken crate was by far the dirtiest, grimiest, matted, sunburned, bruised, skinniest, sick looking pup I’d ever seen. Yet when I looked at the pup, I knew that nothing else mattered in that moment than saving her. I charged the table, ensconced the pup in my arms and refused to let go. The man was asking $25 for her, honestly I would have paid $2500 just to get her out of his clutches. After a little bartering my brother whipped out a $10 bill and offered it up to the guy — not because we were being stingy on paying for the puppy, it was more on principal. Why should someone make a profit from abusing an animal? The man took the $10 and we booked it out of there, puppy still wrapped in my arms.
The road to a healthy puppy hasn’t been easy, she was both physically and mentally abused. Terrified of the sun, rain, people, etc etc. It’s safe to say that now a lot of those fears have been resolved, with lots of patience, learning and love on both our parts. Ryder is a little all over the place, but then again, so am I. She likes the cool winter air, far better than the hot summer sun. Long hikes and snow are her thing; and this past outdoor rink season, she became the best defensepup in the league, chasing and retrieving pucks for hours. Simply put, Ryder is a perfect fit to my outdoorsy, go with the flow personality.
If I had even questioned this for a second the following story sealed the deal.
A few days after flying her back to Boston, I left her in her travel duffel in the car to run a quick errand. Gone literally 5 minutes at most, when I returned back to the car, Ryder wasn’t in her crate. I panicked, honestly I would have probably sent out an amber alert if they had them for dogs. I left her for 5 minutes and she was gone, my world crumbling, previously mentioned panic setting in and so on. Until, I heard a tiny whimpering coming from the back of my SUV. The tiny whimpering was coming from my pup who had somehow managed to escape her travel bag and finagle her way into my hockey bag. Of all the joints …
The perfect dog.
The reason for my sharing this story, is that I read a pretty heartbreaking turned warming story in the local paper today about a small dog being found on the side of the road in a trash bag. The dog had multiple injuries, but was rehabbed over a few weeks at a local shelter and just adopted out to a loving family this past weekend. That coupled with the stories of players donating time, money and homes, simply makes me glad to hear that there are people in the world who share my mentality on saving animals.
I won’t lie and say that rescuing a puppy has been an easy road, it comes with challenges. It can be said that it was both the best and worst decision of my life, all rolled into one. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t wanted, but the good has far outweighed the bad. I never would have been able to live with myself had I left her. I always would have wondered what had happened to “that puppy”, now I know that puppy will hopefully live a long, happy, loving, sometimes, hockey filled life.
Ryder is one puppy in a large pool of animals who have had a rough road. Sure, you can go out and spend hundreds of dollars on the perfect purebred, top notch, blue ribbon puppy. Or you can take the risk and create your own perfect pet by putting forth hundreds of pats, hugs and kisses and be a life changer for one a bit less fortunate than the rest. Perhaps you don’t want a dog, puppy, cat or kitten now or even ever. Perhaps you do. Either way, helping out an animal is certainly the way to go and I’ve outlined a few different ways to accomplish it.
1) Volunteer: Spend an hour each week, a day each month, a day every 3 months at your local shelter. They’re always looking for someone to help out. Granted it probably won’t be glamorous and might involve some cage cleaning, but chances are it’ll involve dog walking and cat snuggling also!
2) Donate: If you can’t donate your time, you can donate all different ways. Donations don’t have to be in a monetary form. Many shelters look for old sheets, blankets, towels, washcloths, newspapers, etc. Pick up the phone and ask.
3) Adopt: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and every pet is special. So give that cat, dog, puppy or kitten a home where they can be loved.
Here are a few links that might be of interest:
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Here you can read about animal cruelty, ways to prevent it, make donations, etc
Animal Shelter.Org: This site allows you to put in the kind of animal you’re looking to adopt, size of the pet and a zip code. It will then give you a list of all the local shelters in your area to check out. It also has the option to look up shelters by state.
Adopt an Animal: This site runs on the same principals as the site mentioned above, but it’s strictly for shelters in Canada.
The Pet Foster: This site outlines basic information on fostering a pet and how to locate pets in need of foster parents.