A little more than a year ago, my husband and I lost our nearly 18-year-old cocker spaniel named Cody. We had adopted him in March 2008 when he was almost 10 years of age. He had been used as a stud dog for a breeder and then basically tossed away like trash. When we discovered him at our local humane society, his sad spaniel eyes ignited my heart. Even though he likely wouldn’t be with us but a few years, we determined to give him the best couple of years of his life. Two years turned into three, into five, into seven. At 17 ¾ years of age, Cody crossed the Rainbow Bridge, having been loved, adored, and pampered to the very end.
|Mary (left) and Cody often slept next to each other.|
Last week my husband and I celebrated the 4th anniversary of bringing Mary into our hearts and home. She is a springer-cocker mix we adopted from English Springer Spaniel Rescue. She was nearly seven when she came to live with us, and we credit Mary with helping keep Cody going as long as he did. They shared walks in the woods with us, trips to the dog park, and travels in the car, as well as cuddles on the couch and snuggles in bed. Their friendship was very special, especially considering they were not raised together.
Mary turns 11 next week. We’ve considered adopting another dog since losing Cody as Mary was raised with a smaller pup prior to her going into rescue at the death of her special person. One day we will adopt again, but we’re holding off for awhile as we also have elderly cats, and to bring in another animal with three senior pets, especially cats, is tricky – we were fortunate with Mary, as she was also raised with felines, so we must be picky about the next dog that comes to share our home.
|My blind dog Sage inspired many with her courage.|
The first dog my husband and I adopted together was Sage, a purebred springer spaniel who became blind about a year after she came to live with us. The disease that stole her sight was Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a genetic condition we did not know about until our vet diagnosed it a few weeks after adoption. Sage was part of a litter from a Montana breeder, who has since stopped breeding dogs. Although one never knows exactly how a shelter dog or cat will turn out, many times that’s also the case with breeders, and since millions of animals are still killed every year in animal shelters and millions of others await new loving homes, I choose to adopt. And, I support animal rescues and shelters through various means, including monetarily.
Animal rescue and pet adoption are my passions. I’ve adopted several pets over the course of my life, and I’ve worked with two different animal shelters during my career. Today I fulfill much of that passion via my writing. Whether blogs, pet columns, articles, or books, I find purpose in my passions: pets and writing.
I was blessed to be part of Sundown’s 2016 release Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart. I wrote about Sage and Cody and the lessons I believe people can learn from pets. Although neither dog walks this earth with me anymore, they still fill my heart, and people can be inspired by the stories I write about them. Sage has been featured in three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and children can read about her in some of my authored works. Cody, too, has his own children’s story, and one day I intend to create a book about Mary. This year, I’m working on two books about dog rescue, one for children with the main character a Great Pyrenees named Jazmine; the story is based on a real dog that I helped transport several years ago for a rescue called Big Dogs Huge Paws. My other work in progress is a romance about a woman who is involved in pet rescue. Through both endeavors, I seek to teach people what pet rescue is and how they can help.
My desire is to use my writing to inspire and to educate as well as to entertain. My passion for pet adoption is woven into my writing purpose and the goals I have for my works and words. How about you? What are some of your passions, and do you intertwine them into your writing (or into the books you enjoy reading)?
Gayle M. Irwin is a freelance writer and book author. She writes for magazines, newspapers, and other publications and she is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She assists animal shelters and pets rescues by donating part of her book sales to such groups, helping at events, and transporting pets in need of new homes. Learn more about Gayle and her works at www.gaylemirwin.com.