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Joy Nicholson

Joy Nicholson photo courtesy of Joy NicholsonJoy Nicholson lives in New Mexico with her husband where they have a special-needs dog rescue. She has published two novels, The Tribes of Palos Verdes: A Novel and The Road to Esmeralda: A Novel, but is mainly interested in non-fiction animal-welfare issues now.

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Mother? Can You Hear Me? Can You Feel Me Near You?
Friday, 11 May 2012 10:00  |  Written by Joy Nicholson | Blog Entry

Paw and Hand photo by BruceIt is exceedingly difficult to explain to a very much beloved mother-in-law just why a person who she feels is 1) smart, 2) married to her extremely smart son and 3) such great mother-material would forgo having children and devote her life to dogs. Even worse—to old dogs. To really screwed-up dogs. And on top of that, to—not screwed-up puppies, but to—adult screwed-up dogs!

Toy-sized puppies might make some sense as a human-baby substitute. Toy-sized puppies at least bring out latent neoteny—that wide-eyed, squiggly, helpless, clean-smelling, belly-exposing, human-baby love all women feel maternal toward. (At least all normal human females, sez the science.) But the old geezers with their bad fur, bad teeth, horrifying breath, arthritis, deathly gait, snappy teeth, scars, etc.?

What’s up with that? Shouldn’t the old, un-useful curs just be ‘put to sleep’—such a gentle way of saying killed? Thrown into the rusty-wheeled shelter wheelbarrow—an over-the-right-shoulder heave being kindest to the elbow and shoulder bones of the right-handed shelter worker—at the local pound with fifty of their unwanted, now-dead brethren? Every Monday and Friday at 5:12?  Should a younger person, with clear skin, married to such a great person, be concerned with such sadness? Not to mention physical labor?

Shouldn’t someone else do it? But do they?

No. They don’t. And smarter people than I am don’t either. I wish they did. They might have better philosophies to guide them, and better degrees and papers published, and much, much nicer homes.

As it is, we are left with only a profound respect for life, the joy in sharing it, the sadness it has come to this, and the hope we have done all what we can. The hope we can do more.

Could any mother want anything more?

As animal rescuers we ask this, and hope you love us as you would any dedicated and hard-working business owner. Only our business is 24/7 and will never turn an IRS profit.

We never close. Our arms are always open. Mothering is what we do—all the time. Every day. Even if one of us is a Dad.

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Comments (1)add
Written by Tracy Tenny , June 16, 2009
Thank you for what you do! I have always worked with animal rescues. Mostly young animals, until one day a very old Siberian Husky came into my life. The reason he was in a kill shelter???? He was too old for his family to deal with! He spent his whole life with the same family & was just abandoned at a shelter to die alone. That broke my heart. I've seen "drop-offs" (another neat little gentle phrase) for a variety of different reasons, but could not wrap my mind around that one. As I was filling out the paperwork to bring him home with me, the person at the shelter told me I was just taking him home to die. The only thing I could say was "as it should be". He was completely deaf, and could only see something if you put it right in his face. He still had his personality, lots of love to give, & when it came to our daily walks (or rather...runs) it was me who had a hard time keeping up, as true to husky form he only knew one speed. He lived another 8 months with me until he had a stroke. I curled up next to him face to face until he slipped away. I could not give him his family back, but he died knowing he was with someone who loved him dearly. He taught me so much in such a short time. My dad always tells me I can't save them all. My response has always been no I can't, but I'll save the ones I can.
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