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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On the volunteers at Guilford County Animal Shelter

In early November 2004, I launched a campaign in my home.

It consisted of me emailing this photo to my husband multiple times a day, hidden behind a link that would say something like I think our boys need this. What do you think? or Looks like a good workout!

The photo was from the Guilford County Animal Shelter and showed an approximately two year old female mixed breed Shepherd named Salsa.

Salsa wasn't getting much coverage. Her photoblurb was the second from the bottom on the shelter's Petfinder page and on page 3 of the dogs on the shelter's own webpage. I suspected she had been at the shelter for some time.

I loved her fiercely the moment I saw this photo. My husband however took a little convincing, which is why I set about Salsa-rolling his inbox.

I did so for 48 days.

On December 23, 2004, as he drove home from his then-office in Greensboro, he decided he would just run by the shelter and at least meet the dog. Only meet the dog.

When he entered the building, an older woman who was volunteering as a greeter asked if he needed help, and he said he was there to see about a dog named Salsa. Immediately tears sprang into her eyes, and her voice quavered when she asked to be sure, "Salsa? You're here for Salsa?"

At that moment my husband realized and accepted that he was going home with a dog.

As she led him to the kennel where Salsa cowered behind another, vigorously barking dog, the lady beamed at the other volunteers they passed and with no small amount of disbelief in her voice told each one, "He came for Salsa."


I went outside when I heard his car pull into the drive. The company for which my husband worked had recently been acquired by a larger company, and the transition was not a happy one. I worried about my husband and the toll on him.

He stepped out of his car that day about an hour later than usual, and so I asked, "Bad day?" He replied, "I've done something stupid." I sucked my breath in and waited for him to continue. Instead I heard a muffled bark from the car, and then I was moving toward it, crying and laughing at the same time.

"It was the old lady," he told me that evening. "She was so happy I had come for Salsa."

Salsa's paperwork told us she had been at the shelter five and a half months. She was matted and smelled sour, her teeth were so yellow they looked like someone had used a highlighter on them, and she tooted lethal gas that cleared rooms.

But she was alive. And for a large black dog in a busy county shelter, that was no small feat. Someone or some ones protected her, shielded her, convinced those in charge to give her a chance, a day, a week, a month.

Five months.


We have had Salsa almost eleven years. She is my dog, my sweetheart, my girl. She snoozes next to me late in the evening, and she will happily ride in the car on the dumbest errands.

Salsa's three year "Gotcha" anniversary

I love that when they were small she thought the children were her responsibility and I was a horrible mother who kept losing them at school, that she treats eating as the greatest activity ever, and that she still thinks sprinklers and hoses are toys not tools. She really is the best dog ever.

Pilot Mountain

But I am acutely aware that I never would have had her without the help of those unnamed Salsa's angels.

So thank you. Thank you for my dog and for the dogs and cats of innumerable others. Thank you, too, for the love and care you gave those you could not save.

Thank you to those of you who have kept hanging in there and thank you to those of you who found you could not.

Prettiest girl ever

May the days ahead be brighter for all.

boy + dog

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