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Always Lessons Learned

Always Lessons To Learn

Good morning everyone!

Echo just finished his concoction of ID prescription canned food, a bit of dry, medication for pain and arthritis, supplements for his tummy and American cheese for the pills and just because he likes it. The mixture is making him much more comfortable this past month or so.

At 15-years-old, Echo is old by any dog standards. He's aged quite a bit in the past six months. He's lost much of his muscle, he's very thin and as of late he has been struggling sometimes getting up from a laying down position.

In the evening I carry him upstairs now to bed. My husband Chuck said to me the other day, "why don't you just have him sleep downstairs?"

To Echo sleeping in the bedroom is very, very important so for as long as he still wants to I will carry him upstairs and back downstairs. Because each night and each morning I have him is a blessing and I want him to know that he is part of a family and he is loved.

Having Echo has reinforced to me in so many ways how important family is. Family can take many forms. It can be blood related, not related, human, animal and both. To a person having a deep connection with people and a sense of belonging is essential. For dogs it is no different.

When Echo came to us when he was nine-years-old he was a wreck, simply a wreck. He was emotionally shut down, lost in his own Echo world. He was like a severely autistic person trapped in their own mind and emotions and wrapped around deep seeded anxiety. It was heartbreaking.

This is a dog that spent nine years at Iams dog food testing facility since the day he was born (his mother gave birth to her puppies there) until the facility relocated and all the animals had to go nine years later.

Echo spent the next three and a half years living at different places. First a woman in Chicago, then my office, then a foster home, then my office, then a doggy day care, then he got adopted and then he was returned. Most of the months and years were with me. Over that time Echo showed a connection to me. It was always subtle but he had just a look in his eye when he saw me, he would sometimes approach me. So that last time when he was returned at 12 and a half years old I decided to keep him. I was, it turned out, his family. He chose me and I was going to do whatever I needed to in order to make his life, whatever was left, knowing he was loved.

What Echo reminds me everyday is the importance of family, the importance of having a sense of belonging and being loved. That every day is a gift and we should remind each other how important we are to each other.

"Family" does not need to be blood related. In my life it has been everything but blood related. I understand to an extent how Echo must have felt being all alone. It took me many years to feel less alone and more belonging. It was never with my birth family but the family that raised me and then the family I created, some blood related but many not, that I finally feel a sense of belonging and being loved.

It is so essential that we all take the time every day to remind our family... whatever that is to all of us, how important they are, how we rely on them, lean on them, are there for them. No one should feel alone and lonely, human or animal. It is a horrible, dark place to be.

So for as long as Echo is here on this planet with me he will know he has me. I will carry him upstairs at night and back down in the morning. I will wrap my arms around him and kiss his thin muzzle. I will stroke his body and hug him gently.

Belonging to someone and relying on someone, that's so essential in life. Every day I think of all the animals that live on chains, in shelters and in testing facilities. I think of their sadness and their sense of not belonging anywhere or to anyone. That spurs me on to continue to do what I can do to connect a animal in need with a family in need and to bring them together. I cannot save them all but each soul is precious and special and each one that is saved means a lot.

If we all reach out to the ones we love and help those that don't have anyone who loves them then we can chip away at the loneliness that runs through this world and make it just a little bit better of a world to live in.

Date: September 23, 2013
Posted By: Sandy Kamen Wisniewski


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