Hercules, Hercules!

In the early 2000’s I was a volunteer at the Michigan Humane Society.  I would go to the Detroit shelter and spend holidays and some weekend days walking dogs, cleaning kennels, and socializing with cats.  It was always easy to fall in love with a dog or cat and I would think of them for days afterward.  I even helped several find new forever homes with friends and family.

On one particular visit, while cleaning kennels in the puppy room, I met the sweetest little rottweiler pup.  He was one of those quiet puppies who watched you and followed your movement with both his eyes and his body.  Beyond his cuteness, I could tell he was a gentle spirit and full of love.  He was also deemed “special needs” because he only had one eye.  At the tender age of just a couple of months old, this sweet little guy had suffered some sort of trauma to his head that caused his eyeball to pop out of the socket.  When he was found and brought into the shelter, his eye was unable to be saved so it was removed and his upper and lower eyelids were stitched together to prevent infection.  As I read his information card and admired his gentle playfulness, I felt my heart literally melt and my brain began processing the feasibility of adopting him.

I asked myself a ton of questions.  What would Mya think?  She wasn’t a big fan of other dogs, would she like this little puppy?  I’d always had female dogs, did I want a male dog?  Would he require any special medical treatment because of his eye?  Was he traumatized because of the likely abuse he suffered?  Would my condo association have a cow if I brought in another big dog?  Did I have enough love in my heart to share with another pet?

I debated and considered all of the options for a couple of days.  I called each day to see if he had been adopted.  On the third day, I woke up and realized that Mya would be fine, I would be fine, and that this puppy needed to be mine.  I had enough love in my heart to share with another pet.  I thought of names for him and couldn’t think of anything that fit with my “y” name gimmick and then “Hercules” popped into my head.  I thought: he’s such a strong little dog and he’s already survived so much.  He should have a strong name.  In my mind, he was already mine.

I called the shelter and said who I was and that I had made a decision: that I wanted to adopt Hercules and asked if they would put him on hold for me.  Right away, the staff person said “Oh, he’s just been adopted…”  And everything after that was a blur.  I thanked him (or her) and hung up.  I was momentarily devastated because I felt like I had worked so hard to come to this decision.  Then, I realized something far greater had happened.  Someone other than myself had fallen in love with him and, quite possibly, asked themselves the same questions before making the decision to adopt him and give him a new chance at a great life.  I quickly went from feeling devastated to relieved.

Like all my experiences with animals, I learned a lesson from Hercules: to trust and follow my heart; that sometimes it really is okay to “leap and the net will appear.”  (Quote: John Burroughs)

Hercules would be nearly 9 years old now and I hope that he’s happily enjoying his golden years.  I have no doubts that he has impacted many lives with his loving nature and special qualities and, hopefully like my Zoey, has shown others how amazing handicapped pets can be.

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