This endless cycle. It's like your hunger. You eat. You're full. But you know in a few hours you'll have to eat again. And it's not like any meal is any less important than the last. It just becomes something you do. Something you have to do. You have to eat. You have to drink. You have to breathe. It's not like any breathe is any less important than the last. You have to sleep. You have to take each step. You have to save the next dog and the next and the next. It's not like any dog is any less important than the last. Sure, some dogs are your type of dog. Maybe you like the small ones with the big bug eyes. Or the smart ones that just seem to know. Or the dumb ones that smother you with kisses. Or the lost causes because they are just that. But still, you watch out for all the dogs. You don't want to lose a single one. When a dog's stay rolls on to week 4 then week 5 then week 6, your sleep suffers - dreams tinged with anxiety, breath turned to apnea. Then finally, in week 7 or 8 or 9, somehow, someone comes in and sees the dog and decides that it is the one. A little party goes off in your head, and after, you end up waiting for the look-where-he-is-now photos. And if that doesn't happen, if no one comes in, and the other thing happens, the unthinkable thing that you nevertheless think about all the time, then what do you do but gather up those thoughts, wrap them up, squeeze them smaller and smaller until they are nothing more than black specks of hard sand which abrade and create little scars but that is still better than letting those thoughts float free. Then you move on quickly, in case something catches up to you. Take the new dogs out for walks. They're new. There is much hope. The percentages are good that this one and this one and this one will find homes, but still, you judge them. You can't help it. How long will this one stay? How will this one be with other dogs? With cats? With strangers? With children? Is it a barker? How about separation anxiety? A rug ripper? Is a couch safe with this one? How about the kitchen table? The wall? Then you force yourself to stop. You remember to enjoy the moment, live the moment. That is what the dog is doing. It is pulling on the leash, greedy for each scent, sight, sound. That furry thing on four legs. Almost alien but always touching the earth, unencumbered and closer to fine. It lives life so much. It loves life so much.
With James at the helm, Toronto Animal Services South has found homes for hundreds of abandoned dogs this past year and, with hope, will continue to do so in the happy new year.