Don has a painful condition and requires specialized surgery on both eyes. Though his eyes hurt him all the time, you couldn’t ask for a friendlier dog. His mild-mannered, gentle temperament is just remarkable. Besides his eyes, he is a healthy, happy guy with lots of years left to live! Unfortunately, the response of a traditional shelter would be to end his life. That is not how we see our job at Friends For Life. What’s more, we trust that isn’t the way you see the job of a shelter either.
Sharing a Cone
Today, Don received surgery he needs and his prognosis is excellent. Even with his stitched up eyes and huge cone, when I picked him up from surgery, he leaned over to the driver’s side and pushed his face into mine to give me a slobbery kiss. He pressed his cone over my face and for a few moments, as the cone connected with the driver’s seat headrest, we wore his cone together. As people stopped next to us in traffic on Kirby and looked on at this joyful, tail-wagging, stitched up dog and I sharing a “cone of shame,” I’ve never been more proud of this program or of the way I’ve chosen to direct my career. Don is gloriously, ecstatically, vibrantly alive. Insofar as we choose to have a part in that victory–so are we all. In case you ever wonder if an underdog’s life is worth saving, an inconvenience worth bearing or a supporter ask worth making, I suggest you share a cone with a boundlessly joyful dog who is pain-free for the first time in his life.
The Choice was Clear
As you can imagine, the surgery is not inexpensive. All told, the vet bills will reach the $3,000 mark. Why spend those kinds of resources on one dog? It is a reasonable question to ask. We think of it like this: There are only three choices: don’t help him, help him or kill him.
Without surgery, he lives out his days in agony. With the surgery, Don can live a long and happy (pain free) life. Neither choice is acceptable to us. So we saw a third option: We chose to get him what he needs and ask for your help.
This, and so much we have accomplished in Houston together, amounts to a “trust fall” into the arms of a community we know wants compassionate outcomes. You have never let us down, Houston.
The Ongoing Conversations Are Beautiful
Your partnership is critical to us in saving the underdogs/undercats. We can only do these amazing things with you all standing by our side. Your partnership doesn’t just make the “Dons” of the world possible but also funds the incredible programs running day in and day out.
Our Fix Houston program has now provided more than 3,000 free spay/neuter surgeries to the community. It was a trust fall you stretched out your arms to catch. As it turns out, you agree that underserved neighborhoods hunger for accessible vet care for their pets and rescues. We have learned that you were 100% with us when we decided to try a delivery method unheard of in Houston–going door to door, block to block and neighborhood to neighborhood and offering free care.
You rejoiced with us at the new conversations happening and the now 54,000 animal births prevented. You tell our blockwalkers about neighbors who need help and and about pockets of your neighborhoods that you feel are out of control. You let us trap cats in your backyards and you tell us which little old ladies need help through the food bank but will never ask–so you deliver the food we drop off. You continually inspire us with your sense of community and kindness. So many times we hear that these FFL programs are what you’ve waited for. YOU are the community we hoped for.
You’ve supported our unique food bank, well on its way to breaking our record for the amount of food given away to animals in need (over 3 tons). Our behavior team has given away hundreds of hours of free training to people struggling to hold onto their animal family members.
More Conversations and More Trust
Through our Project WARM program, we’ve distributed hundreds of WARM houses to community cats. Our facebook posts offering the WARM houses for cats got over 200 shares. But the coolest part was not just that you were talking to us, Houston, but that you were talking to each other. You shared, tagged, shouted out and came in to get WARM houses for neighbors and friends. You wrote posts tagging people you thought could use the help. You posted youtube videos of ways to DIY for people who couldn’t get to the shelter to get pre-made houses. Some of you didn’t need a house but came in to pay for a couple because you wanted to fund making more to be given out for free.
This wonderful opportunity to save Don is just one piece in the growing network of programs at FFL. The more partners we find for Don, the further we can push all of our programs down the road—and that’s really what we all want as animal guardians. More saves. More chances. And a community in which Every Animal Matters.
For our part, you may trust that we will continue to faithfully live by our motto, “Every Animal Matters.”
We can only do these amazing things with you all standing by our side. Your partnership doesn’t just make the Dons of the world possible but it makes everything we do possible.
So Houston, we lean into you and trust that we are headed where you want to go. We lovingly press our cone into you, tail wagging, and ask for your help. Thanks for being the FFL ARMY, Houston. Together, we are doing amazing things every day.