It was before the next grueling workout at Orange Theory in Huntsville, Alabama, and I was talking about my farm. I don’t remember who I was talking to, but that morning changed my life forever.
A woman sidles up next to me and says, “You’ve got a farm? Do you rescue dogs?” Darn it. No, I didn’t rescue dogs. Well, yes, I do rescue dogs, but only for my personal use! I already had three dogs and had just lost one of my oldest pugs. No, I couldn’t. All of this to myself clearly because she didn’t stop. “There’s this dog that lives in a horse barn by my house and doesn’t see the light of day.” Uh oh. “What kind of dog?” She comes closer and says, “Oh, he’s a big boy. I don’t know what kind but he’s such a lover.”
And that’s how I came to own a mastiff named Duke. Animal rescue is part of the plan for Leigh Acres, but this one was not part of the plan.
My friend and assistant, Jennifer Taylor, rode with me for an hour from Huntsville, Alabama, to get him. Sure enough, he was living in a dark and lonely barn. His owner had come upon him as haphazardly as I had. Duke had run into his yard, and the guy put him up to keep him safe. The dog already living at the guy’s house demurring at the new dog. As the owner let Duke out into the light, he went wild! Running, jumping, running, jumping. Did I mention, running and jumping? I thought, “What the?!” I was in trouble. He was huge! And not manageable at all. But we weren’t going to leave him there no matter how crazed he appeared. The owner assured us, “He just needs a place to run.” Perfect, I have less than half an acre for him to share with the two pigs and three existing dogs. (That’s sarcasm).
Duke still hasn’t made it to the farm. He’s a great big bundle of joy that was only six months old when we rescued him from the horse barn. He’s all muscle and big grins, ready with a toy in his mouth as soon as I open the door. I’ve never seen such a sweet and loving dog despite his poor beginnings. For me, his resilience and good nature is a testament to our ability (animals and humans) to rise above the circumstances of our lives. This big oaf has taught me lessons on how to be more affectionate, how to always pick up the fuzziest toy, and how to stay positive even through the darkest of nights.
There will be many rescues to come at Leigh Acres. But none so sweet as this one.
As a lesson to all of us:
- It’s never too early to rescue someone or something in need.
- Talk about what you are doing in the world; the Universe has a funny way of bringing people and things together.
- Be open to new people and experiences.
- Take chances, you never know what lies on the other side.
- We can shake off our surroundings and run into a brighter day. It’s never too late to rescue ourselves.