The barks of dogs surrounded me as I stepped off the bus. They ran around their cages jumping up and down. My heart melted at the sight of these poor creatures. The spotted Dalmatian sent out a plea for help with a tiny bark. A black and tan puppy hid in the dark corner of his cage, trembling, and ignoring my persuasive voice of love.
I stepped inside the building and discovered more unwanted animals. A white rabbit hopped around in its cage. Its red, carrot-colored eyes brought out the color of its cottony fur. I walked around the shelter, squealing "oh and ah" over every animal, as they looked out of their cages, pleading for love and help. A pitbull terrier particularly intrigued me. She was as gentle as a baby. I stroked her head with affection as she sat on the cold cement behind the bars. The pit bull licked my hand with appreciation as she whined. It amazed me when I later found out that she had been chained to a tree when the workers found her crying in the rain. Her owners had used her to breed and neglected her.
A litter of eight six-week-old puppies were in the cage opposite the pitbull. They snuggled together for warmth as one of the puppies let out a weak bark, as if calling to its mother. Recognizing my love and willingness to help these puppies, the director suggested I give them a bath. I lifted one of the puppies, Yukie, from his brothers and sisters. His black fur was as soft as cotton candy. I held him tightly. The smell of strawberry-flavored shampoo surrounded the wash area. The puppy seemed like a tiny tadpole, swimming in a big pond. Water dripped down his black, floppy ears as he tried to shake off the heavy water. I wrapped Yukie in a towel, as he shivered and licked my hand. After all the grooming and drying, he looked aristocratic as if he'd come from an expensive pet shop. I kissed his little, scrunched-up face as I reluctantly placed him back.
Next, I walked some dogs around the small shelter property. They sprang out of their cages, unable to withhold their urge for exercise. I ran around with them, while petting and talking to them. They shrank back when the time came to put them back.
Afterwards, I stepped into a room full of cats. Four small five-week-old kittens hid in the corner of their cage, and peered at me curiously. A black and white cat in another cage tapped me with her paw, trying to get my attention. I lifted her out as she purred in the warmth of my embrace. Her green piercing eyes stared fixedly at me. I stroked her neck gently.
The time came to leave. I dragged myself out and silently promised these creatures to come and again provide them with love. The sad eyes and the faces of these creatures will always be imprinted in my mind. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.