I spent more than a few minutes this weekend staring into the eyes of a sad-looking golden doodle.
It was a one-way interaction: me on my laptop, the dog on the Shaw Local website. She was the lead photo on a story about two pups Illinois Valley Animal Rescue took from a Utica home. The doodle, age 4, was ridden with fleas. A male Great Dane, the younger of the two, was reportedly 25 pounds underweight.
IVAR’s Chris Tomsha said the agency worked with authorities to seize the animals following a report of undernourishment. Police cited the owner for animal care violations and future criminal charges are possible.
I also spent plenty of time this weekend caring for our own two rescue dogs – one born in foster care in Tennessee and the other from Alabama, where a Meals on Wheels volunteer noticed someone dump three weeks-old puppies in a box. After transport to the suburbs, and time with our local foster agency, we became their forever family.
My wife sometimes discusses fostering cats and dogs ourselves when the kids are grown. We support the agency that rescued our dogs by dropping off gently used supplies. Just this Sunday we donated some living room furniture for the rescue’s resale shop. We’re not special, just one family among thousands of Illinoisans who have adopted foster pets and support rescue agencies.
But staring into those dog eyes, it’s easy to forget dogs don’t have privacy rights. If the story were about children, there would be no photographs, no press releases, no fundraising plea. Just kids on the brink of disease or death, sent from their homes to medical supervision, while the people involved keep a low profile and work toward positive outcomes.
It’s perhaps not a natural mental connection, but in light of recent columns about the beleaguered Department of Children and Family Services, readers have privately shared challenging experiences and frustrations with the human foster care system, both directly and through support groups.
The world has so much brokenness, and I salute anyone working to put pieces back together. Amid reports of systemic failure, individual stories remain essential.
ON THE ROAD: A favorite family story is the time my grandparents drove from Jo Daviess County to New England to see vibrant autumnal trees, only to make it all the way home and realize my grandfather used black-and-white film. We’ll be all digital for our annual trip to Dittmar Farms and Orchard in Elizabeth next month. If you need inspiration for a similar excursion, visit enjoyillinois.com/fall-colors-trip-planner, a special state tourism website dedicated to changing leaves. The site promises regular updates on conditions with new photos every week. What’s your go-to fall colors destination?