May 9, 2022

This is for all my Animal-loving, Dog-rescuing, Wildlife-coveting Sisters.

Many of us have decided to care for the lives already here, to cover the wild things and protect them at all costs.

This one’s for the mosaic of empowered femininity, and the sisterhood of support.

If women worry too much and too deeply, it is for all befalling the life we love. For the moment of danger inherent; in the moose standing on the centerline of a busy highway; when distraction propels humanity forward, blind to the existence of others. For the set of brown eyes and desperate paws scratching at the glass or pawing wire in the kennels; confused with vulnerability and fraught with anxiety; for the effects of being thrown away. For the nestlings calling from above to a mother barn swallow soaring into our barns, smashed mosquitoes hanging from her beak, as a fire blazes on a ridge nearby.

While we witness the beautiful glow reflected off the golden flank of grazing elk in a springtime pasture, or sit enraptured by the presence of a browsing moose, we can feel our hearts beating ever stronger. While we pause in our steps to glimpse the little black fox trotting down our driveway in a high mountain valley, we carry fear alongside awe, for the days that may not be. While we gaze into that set of wanting brown canine eyes in need of a furever home, possibilities twist and torment our ever-determined minds, while uncertainty infects our chance for peace and restoration. While we cook chicken and sweet potatoes alongside pots of boiled rice for the special-needs incontinent, disabled dog dumped in the lands of nowhere, peace settles into the moment. Like a dim light glowing in the ebony of the evening, purpose delivers contentment like a divine messenger descending from above.

While we jump out of our Subaru, halting traffic to protect a procession of mother pheasants leading their chicks across a busy highway, we hold our breath until they are safely on the other side. And we smile when we return to that Subaru in the knowingness that, somehow, we helped them all be, for just one more day.

Every act we make is in honor of a life in need of care and protection, left orphaned and alone, in a world where the sharper edges of humanity brush up against vulnerability.

We say yes to the bullet-ridden blue heeler mutt stray, left to survive on his own on a roadside in the Rio Grande Valley. We exclaim, “absolutely, I’ll take him in and find him a home” to the young hound mutt sitting dazed and wounded, while we wrap gauze around his bloodied legs and empty his broken bladder. And we continue, year after year, pulling dogs by the dozens out of harm’s way in the beleaguered and under-resourced shelters deep in the bowels of Texas, devoting and depleting ourselves in the hope for a better outcome or an end to the incessant demand. Because we can no more turn away from a living being in need than we could slam the door on a hungry stranger.

And sometimes, we just take in a neighbor’s dog in need when we hear the utterance, “she has to go” because knowing that the shelters are overly full, we say to ourselves, “what’s one more?”

For the want to see the nonhuman web of life continue to live healthy and well, women feel protective. Fierce.

It is why we stand clear.

It is why we are willing to fight and why we cry.

Feeling the needs of the vulnerable and the fragile, the beautiful and the deserving, we put words to the page and sound to our hearts. They are the ones speaking in a language we can hear. We are translators and protectors, advocates and nurturers. We see and we respond, we flag down traffic in protection and care for them by the dozens, when rational minds would only give place to two.

Women are innately connected through the vein of life to the myriad forms of creation—wild and domestic. We are fed by diversity, enlivened by expression, fueled by vibrancy. We are heartened by the gratitude inherent in a set of rescued brown eyes, satisfied with a deep sigh of a caramel muzzle resting on our thigh as we write on our living room couch.

On behalf of the women caring for the nonhuman lives of those in dire need, let’s celebrate with our commitment ongoing, our hearts ever-opening, and acknowledge that our care is a worthwhile endeavor, indeed.


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