I Never Was a Mother, by Terry Albert
A friend of mine made this video for me. I wrote the poem in 1995, when I was busy fostering homeless dogs and cats for various rescue groups. It just bubbled out of my heart onto the paper one night, the first poem I've ever written. (For that matter, I've only written one other one, read it here)
A lot of rescuers don't have children, and maybe it is that fact that leads us to nurture and love animals so much. I never felt a strong desire for children. Though I enjoy kids a lot, I've never had a sense of loss that I didn't have my own. I poured my soul into this poem, and I hope you will enjoy it. In 1995 it won a Dog Writers Association Of America Maxwell Award after it appeared in the Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue newsletter.
My friend Roberta Cantow of Original Digital came up with the idea of a narration and video. The photos you see here are dogs I have fostered or cared for as a pet sitter, with the exception of the Lab at the beginning, who is my own beloved Tank, that once in a lifetime dog I will never forget. Roberta, an Emmy-winning filmmaker, has created some wonderful video tributes, multimedia stories, and has recently completed a new film, Bloodtime, Moontime, Dreamtime.
Some of the dogs:
My brother's cat: Dan's cat really did come to live with me when they moved to Hawaii and couldn't take him along because of the long quarantine. Smokey was not a kitty who would do well with that. But when they moved back to California, Smokey went back to them. I didn't have a photo of Smokey, a blue-gray shorthair, so we used a photo of my kitty Whisper, who was rescued from Bonita Animal Control.
The neighbor's dog: I've had a lot of these; a cocker spaniel who strayed over to my house (how do they know to come to me?). His teenage owner offered me one of her puppies as a reward (ACKK...NO!); a Rottweiler who parked on my front porch for an afternoon, until his owner got my call – thank goodness for tags. The dog in the video was Brandie, a toy poodle I cared for as a pet sitter for over 8 years.
An AIDs victim's last request: Yes, this really happened too. A man asked if I could take his two shih tzus that were ten years old. I felt they had a good chance of being adopted at the Humane Society, so I referred him there and promised to follow up and take them out if they didn't get placed. He got them kennel cough vaccines to help them stay healthy, and both were adopted within three days, and I was able to call him with the good news.
The red collie laying on the couch: Red Ted wasn't really a purebred collie, but Collie Rescue and Lab Rescue learned they should know better than send me to check out a dog in the shelter-- he came home with me. Red Ted with the Spot On His Head, I called him, because he had a big red spot right between his ears. He was adopted by a nursing home, where he was renamed Care Bear and lived there the rest of his life. I always though he had some Ibizan Hound in him. Weird breed combo, but maybe he came from a puppy mill or something, and got mixed-up breeding.
The pool dogs: Yes that's me in the water with the dogs on the deck refusing to come in! Indy and Charlie Whiskers were foster dogs, Tank was mine, and Taz was a pet sitting client. What a group. I look like I'm conducting an orchestra.
The Chihuahua in the cage: His name was Burr(also in this photo), and he really was in the shelter, with his roommate Issa, a Lhasa Apso, but they came home with me when I lived in Seattle and stayed with me til I found them a home.
Irish Setter: Apples was a pet sitting client, who had cancer in her spine. I learned to walk her and support her weight while she recovered from surgery. After her owners spent thousands of dollars on treatment, her cancer came back and she couldn't be saved. She died at 13 years old, the day after my Tank passed away at the same age.
Sheltie on a quilt: This is my Bonnie, who I adopted at 6 years old from Southland Sheltie Rescue. She and her littermate, Lily, came from a puppy mill in Texas. Over 35 dogs came to San Diego to find new homes. Today Bonnie and Lily still live with me, at age 11.
Collie and little girl: Bonnie (a different Bonnie) was an elderly stray in the shelter, and she almost died from the stress of her spay surgery. We had to carry her on a litter to my car to bring her home. But she thrived and found a wonderful family with three kids who adored her for the rest of her life. They went on to adopt another collie from Collie Rescue.
Me with a dachshund: Beanie and Tuffy were ten years old when they came to stay with me. This is Beans, the world's sweetest most loving dog – especially for a doxie! Tuffy lived only one year, and Beans lived two years. Their owner had gone into a nursing home, and they were left in a kennel until the family could figure out what to do with them. A volunteer from FOCAS (Friends of the County Animal Shelters) found me. They came to live with me the first week I moved into my house.
White dog with bandana: Oscar was an Un-Labrador that I took out of the Escondido Humane Society when I volunteered for Lab rescue. He was so beautiful and he had kennel cough, I just couldn't leave him there. He found a fabulous home with Ilona, who became a close friend. He worked as a therapy dog and is now enjoying his retirement.
It takes longer to tell their stories than to watch the video! I hope you enjoyed it.