Ode to Hilary

   You were my 'happy ending story,' a superb example of the dog that beats the odds.
   There are unexpected, delightful twists of fate in the shelter world, these cherished times when pets you don't think will make it out alive do.
   You were one of those pets Hilary, one of those dogs I didn't want to interact with too much  for fear of getting too emotionally involved only to be heartbroken upon your demise.
   But all it took to turn that self preservation mechanism around was someone, anyone, to show a hint of interest in you.
   That's all it ever takes, that shimmer of hope to make the possibility of rescue come to life (naturally I fall in love with dogs every day that no one is considering as well but one must keep that in check).
   When I met your daddy strolling through the big dog runs and he stopped at you Hilary, my heart practically stopped too. It was one of those 'don't hold your breath too long' moments, I played it calm and cool with the interested adopter to avoid making him feel pressured or pushed into choosing you. After all no one likes to feel pressured, even when adopting a dog.
   Hilary, it made my entire week to see an adopter fall in love with a hard to place dog without much coaxing or convincing... he knew you were the one. Though I did everything in my power to see the adoption through, to see you walking out the front door with your new doting owner. And, you did.
   I saw you weeks later when you returned to the shelter for your spay appointment- you looked magnificent, your owner, not so much. His arm was in a cast and he seemed to be very down on his luck. I wished you both well and saw you out the door, once again... shaking off an uneasy feeling.
   Hilary, you can't know (or maybe you can) the dismay it delivered, the immediate shadow it cast over me, this past Friday when you came back to MDAS for what would be the last time.
   I was busy with a customer, naturally, when Judy interrupted me to report you were in the lobby with your daddy, Alejandro. You had been hit by a car, your hip was shattered. Surgery for the invasive injury would run in the thousands... which your owner couldn't afford.
   I couldn't go to you, not because I was too busy, but rather because I didn't trust my raw emotions. I told Judy to tell your owner where to take you, the dog receiving dept. He was there to surrender you.
   Minutes later, once I'd collected my thoughts a bit I walked briskly to receiving, requesting your whereabouts.
   You had already been taken to the euthanasia room, I rushed, needing to see you.
   As I knocked, the euthanasia tech came around the corner, he hadn't even been in the room yet. He unlocked and opened the door and there you were- laying on the floor, beautiful and completely hopeless. You didn't so much as wag your tail or perk up at all when I said your name and went to you... perhaps that was for the better, why bother feeling a false sense of hope at this point.
   I petted your head and cried. You had given up. You knew. I commented on how nice your coat looked, saying that Alejandro must have really been taking good care of you.
   You were then muzzled, which I found offensive and said so, but, was told that it's standard procedure in euth. Then, just like that, with the intravenous injection, you were gone.
   I had to leave the room and go on with my day. There was still plenty of work to be done, like always.
   You were my 'happy ending story' Hilary. Damn it.

-written a couple of weeks ago on paper, the post "So Then Why" portrayed Hilary's story of when she was adopted.
Hilary and Alejandro, the day Hilary was adopted.