One of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met came into my life this week. Ralphie is a darling little yellow lab, about a year old, who was scheduled to be euthanized at a shelter. He’s been badly abused, has a large gash on his head and eye that our vet now believes to be some sort of chemical burn, and one of his front elbows is severely dislocated. When the shelter initially emailed me to literally beg for Ralphie’s life, my brain and heart were battling over the decision to save him. Daisy’s Place Retriever Rescue is dedicated to saving older Retrievers and Ralphie is not old, and we already have mounting vet bills that we’re struggling to pay. And yet I couldn’t get his photo out of my mind. I threw caution to the wind and responded that we’d take Ralphie and he’d be one of our honorary Daisy Dogs under the age of six, or as we lovingly call them, Rosebuds.

Ralphie's Shelter Photo

I was not prepared for the impact Ralphie would have on my heart upon his arrival. It was hard not to burst into tears when I looked at the wound on his head and eye and the way he hopped/limped when carefully lifted out of the car by our transport volunteer. But what struck me the most was Ralphie’s amazing spirit and his truly joyful disposition! I expected him to be perhaps a little fearful and guarded after all he’s been through – but Ralphie LOVES everyone and his smile is infectious! After he arrived in Charleston, I immediately took him to our vet where he had x-rays and a complete exam. The only sign of fear that he showed was crossing thresh holds – he’s absolutely terrified to walk through doorways. I shudder to think of the horrors he’s survived and can only imagine what has happened to him. Like any other young dog, he’s curious and energetic – so he had to be sedated for x-rays. Afterwards he laid his head in my lap and looked up at me with such love and trust, he melted my heart.

Ralphie laying his head in my lap

Next on Ralphie’s agenda was an appointment to be neutered. After a day’s recovery, I picked him up and took him to our ophthalmologist and orthopedic surgeon for evaluation. The good news is that he does have some sight in his eye, but will need surgery to see if the eye lid can be repaired so that the eye can be saved. Our orthopedic surgeon is going to try to relocate his elbow during eye surgery. So we are optimistic about his chances for making a full recovery. Of course, Ralphie doesn’t really care about any of this – all he knows is that he’s a happy dog and he just copes with his physical limitations.

So Ralphie has now been to four vets in three days – he’s been neutered, has had x-rays, a full eye exam and has been poked and prodded – through it all he continues to love everyone and displays a true zest for life! When I posted his story and photo on Facebook, we received an outpouring of concern and support – but what really got me thinking was the intense outrage and dislike (dare I use the word hatred?) for whoever caused this sweet boy’s injuries. Don’t get me wrong, I think animal abuse is one of the worst crimes imaginable – I can’t even comprehend how anyone could cause such harm to such an innocent loving creature. And yet, Ralphie displays no signs of distrust and I’m quite certain that if confronted with the person who caused him harm, he would forgive. Perhaps not forget, but surely he would forgive.

Dogs have an amazing capacity to forgive. And perhaps this is another valuable lesson they are here to teach us. It’s perfectly natural to instantly feel anger towards those who harm innocent animals – or anyone else for that matter – but aren’t we perpetuating the problem by spewing hatred? I have no idea what could possibly cause someone to commit such unspeakable acts of cruelty, but I have to believe that these people are deeply disturbed, unhappy and miserable in their own minds. To commit such violent crimes is surely a cry for help – deep inside they must be screaming out for someone to love them – even if they, themselves, don’t realize it. I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t speak from that view point, but I can speak from the heart and I truly believe that dogs want to teach us unconditional love, compassion and yes, forgiveness.

Ralphie is now in a loving foster home and all he knows is that life is good! He adores his girl, Maddie, and is learning what it means to be part of a loving family.

Ralphie and Maddie

Instead of being united by intolerance and judgement, it’s my hope that animal lovers and advocates can be united through love – our love for these amazing animals who are such a gift in our lives and love and forgiveness for those who have lost their way. There is a very real vibrational difference between vengeance and justice – let us continue to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves, but let us make sure we speak as these precious creatures would, with love and forgiveness. Our world is in desperate need of healing energy – perhaps dogs are sent to guide us to a more loving place in our own hearts.

many blessings,

If you would like to follow Ralphie’s story, we’ll be posting updates on our Facebook page, Donations towards Ralphie’s vetting, can be made on our website, click on ‘be a link in our Daisy Chain’