When your “hobby” is taking in stray dogs and finding them responsible permanent homes, you can find yourself overwhelmed at times. It seems it is a never-ending cycle. You find a dog. You love the dog. You find the dog a wonderful new home. Repeat.
People involved in animal welfare (me!) often look to the Loren Eiseley story about starfish for inspiration…consolation…reassurance…pick a word. The story has become somewhat of a gentle battle cry for the ongoing task of making life better for our animal friends.
Perhaps it seems a bit cliche’, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but just in case, here’s the story (there are a few versions out there…but the gist is the same in all):
The Star Thrower
A man was walking on the beach one day and noticed a boy who was reaching down, picking up a starfish and throwing it in the ocean. As he approached, he called out, “Hello! What are you doing?” The boy looked up and said, “I’m throwing starfish into the ocean”. “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the man. “The tide stranded them. If I don’t throw them in the water before the sun comes up, they’ll die” came the answer. “Surely you realize that there are miles of beach, and thousands of starfish. You’ll never throw them all back, there are too many. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy listened politely, then picked up another starfish. As he threw it back into the sea, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”
You can see the obvious parallel. Sure, it’s overwhelming if you look at the big picture of “starfish rescue,” but to each individual starfish, each toss sure matters.
And though some may feel this story is overused or unoriginal, I can’t help but fall back to this story when I look at the before and after photos of sweet Hansel…who is now known as Loki. I remember the day I found him with his sisters, Gretel and Cinder. I was overwhelmed to say the least. Three tick-infested stray dogs, all at once, in need of immediate help and shelter.
I’ve already told the story of their rescue here and about the wonderful people who stepped forward to help these dogs. If you look back a bit into July, you’ll find a couple of pieces on them. What I’m sharing now is their “toss into the ocean,” so to speak.
Hansel/Loki has been welcomed into an amazing home. I kind of want them to adopt me too. He will never want for a thing. He has two teenage boys to be his buddies, he has Rex the golden retriever to be his mentor, and he has two great adult humans to ensure a lifetime filled with wonderful.
His before and after photos speak volumes. Compare the photo above to the photo of the day I found him wandering on a country road. The look, then vs now, in his eyes alone, tells the tale.
And now Cinder and Gretel have left the veterinary hospital where they were boarded and are my foster dogs. They are integrating well with my own crew and showing us their lovely personalities. They are learning the ropes of being good companion dogs. They are ready and waiting for their new homes. They too, will have a lifetime of wonderful. I promise them that.
Loren Eiseley, your story is an oldy, but to me, always a goody. One at a time, we can make a difference. Thank you for your wisdom.
It really did make a difference for that one.