I walked into the concrete building with a leash wrapped around each hand. A couple was at the office window so I waited my turn. I noticed the poster on the wall, titled "Forever." I scanned it and agreed with most of it. Until one bullet point. "Not just until you move."
That sent me over the edge. I'd been crying off and on all morning, but I'd composed myself for the short drive. But there, in the hallway, I lost any composure I'd had. And when the couple left and the lady asked how she could help me, and I opened my mouth, all that came out was a sob. And she said, "I'm guessing we're here for a surrender." And all I could do was nod.
You see, I was at the Alger County Animal Shelter in Munising Michigan, with our two beagles, Fritz and Kraut. And the next morning, the Mechanic and the girls and I were leaving for Montana. And we had nowhere to go when we got there. I'd called every landlord in town and in the neighboring towns trying to find a place to rent that would allow dogs, with no luck. I'd communicated with humane societies and rescue agencies trying to locate a foster home until we could buy or find a pet friendly landlord, with no luck. We'd had family members in Michigan ask around about foster homes with no luck. I'd explored every option I could think of for the previous month and nothing had worked. We were down to the wire, and there just weren't any options left.
I'd looked up the shelter online and found they were essentially a no-kill shelter. And as I sat in the office the lady explained that there weren't any other dogs in the shelter and that they'd find good homes for them. They would be fed better food than they even got at home. The young man assured me as I said goodbye that he'd take good care of them, walk them and such. I knew they were in good hands. I knew they were better off than they'd ever be in a Tennessee shelter, what with the overcrowding and difficulty in placing hounds.
But it didn't make it any easier. Even now, I'm typing through tears, and that's hard to do on a kindle.
I was told I could come back to see them before we left the next morning, but it was too much. I couldn't stand to see them behind bars again. I'd gotten them out from behind bars, and it was killing me to leave them there again. I even sent the Mechanic down with their crates because I couldn't stand to see them locked up.
As we drove out of town the next morning, I made sure to not look towards the shelter.. But the next day, somewhere in the middle of North Dakota, I got a call. It was a man, who with his wife had just adopted Kraut. I tried not to tear up since I was driving, but it was such a relief. Yet, there was something bittersweet too... he said Kraut was following his wife from room to room, and it was a little hard to accept that someone else was going to be getting his affection. Today, nearly three weeks from when I left them, I talked to Fritz's new family. I'd worried about him, that he was still in the shelter, and so I was relieved to hear he'd been chosen by a family. The same bittersweet feeling... someone else will be greeted by that wagging tail and his "I'm so glad you're home now feed me please" look.
Sometimes, forever is cut short. Sometimes, despite everything you try, a move does mean the end. I hope that a future shelter or wherever we get our next dog, when we own a home, can understand that. I hope that they can understand, sometimes, forever means forever in my heart.