On this day last year, I was at a vet’s office while my elderly cat underwent surgery when I got a text message. “Check Facebook. Bunny and Brock are missing.” Bunny is the single most special animal I’ve ever fostered. I almost didn’t let her go, and every day for the last year, I have wished that I hadn’t. She was worth giving up the rescue for, to me. She was worth it all. When Bunny arrived in our care, she was one of the most fearful dogs I’d ever seen. She was nearly feral. She was born in a shelter as evidence in a hoarder’s animal cruelty trial, and spent the first eight months of her life without leaving her kennel or seeing daylight, or grass. She and her siblings were said to be so afraid of grass that they collapsed on it and crawled, dragging their handlers to the sidewalk where they could at least feel the familiarity of concrete. Volunteers for a border collie rescue had helped to socialize them, driving for hours each week to arrive at the shelter and work with the 20 dogs that were left out of the original 30 or so (some died in the kennels, including some of the pups that were born there, and Bunny’s mother.)
When we took Bunny in, it was a lot of work, effort and a heck of a learning experience for me. We went through so much together. It was just a completely fulfilling experience for me, though, as I really learned about the kind of dogs that I love to help. I would take in a million Bunnys just to see them blossom the way she did. She was here for over a year, and she was a huge part of my life. I was close to keeping her with that “perfect” home came along, and I was able to let her go so I could continue my rescue work.
A year later, that text message came, and my world was shaken, rocked, off its foundation. We launched into action. A Facebook page just for the two dogs and their search effort quickly grew to over a hundred people. Volunteers donated an incredible amount of money to help cover advertising costs, and my husband, best friend and myself spent well over 30 hours the first week searching on foot, searching with dogs, and hanging flyers and posters to try and find the dogs. I spent every day making a trip out to hang more posters or to search, even if I was alone. In addition to ads, we contacted media, had the dogs’ story make the front page of the paper locally here and featured in a large spread in a weekly paper that comes out in a large area locally. We had http://www.findtoto.org send calls out to thousands of neighbors in the area to report the dogs missing. I took and made phone calls daily as nearly every stray dog sighting in a huge radius was called in to me- with not a single one showing any hope of being the dogs. While I didn’t know Brock that well, we never narrowed our search for just Bunny. It’s our hope that if she is alive, so is he.
We never had a confirmed sighting of the dogs. After a month, our efforts on foot dwindled. We kept our flyers updated, kept checking Craigslist and other sites, but nothing really seemed to stand out. It’s like they disappeared. In fact, some theories came out that perhaps their adopters gave them away (I hope not, and am not accusing them of such,) or perhaps they were stolen, or picked up and moved far away. I will probably never know.
It’s been a year, and I’ve never stopped thinking about Bunny. I’ve never stopped missing her. My heart has not been whole. I have never regretted one of my mistakes in rescue as much as I regret not keeping her here, with me, where she never would have ended up in this situation. Some days, the misery I feel over losing her is unbearable. In terms of closure and the ability to move on, it would have been better to find her lifeless body than never to have found her at all. I fear I’ll have this pain with me for the rest of my life.
In the past year, it has been more difficult to allow rescued animals to go. I have a harder time parting with fosters, a harder time trusting adopters, and an emotion of protectiveness that overcomes reason too often. I can only hope that this will fade, or I may have to give up my rescue for Bunny after all.