My favorite beat

Jennifer with PoppyApproaching 20 years as a writer, editor and publisher, at one time or another during my tenure I’ve covered every beat— from breaking news to government, arts & entertainment to crime, and on.

While every beat has its own allure, my hands-down favorite — and happily these days the one I most often get to cover — is the heart beat. Just before this issue went to press duty called . . . with a story that powerfully conveys its magic.

A little backstory:

This past May, Spot promoted “Henry’s Walk,” Oregon Dog Rescue’s fundraiser named for a sweet boy with a miraculous story of survival. Henry endured grueling conditions in life with a hoarder that, as usual, left permanent scars: near-blindness, ground-down teeth, and a sustaining fear of many things. Part of Henry’s second-chance story deals with the normal things he’s had to learn since being rescued — like drinking from a bowl rather than licking surfaces for dew or rain, and that food gets served on the floor, not the hood of a car.

Shortly after Henry’s debut in Spot promoting the ODR fundraiser, a family in Eugene who’d seen his photo got in touch. “We saw this picture of our Poppy,” they said, “only it was Henry!”

Certain that Henry and Poppy were either littermates or mother and son, Yaakov and Donna of Eugene set about reuniting the pair — at a dog park on a picture-perfect Saturday in August. L-R: Suz with Henry, Yaakov, Poppy and DonnaSpot was invited to the meetup. As I approached, Suz (Henry’s mom) and Donna (Poppy’s), were giggling as Poppy languished on her back, swiping a paw at any hand that paused in rubbing her feathery underside. As I floated around the group, being “invisible” so as to capture the moment on camera, they continued to get acquainted, asking each other about their dogs’ health and behavioral issues, their habits, and the quirky things they do that reveal their past lives with a hoarder.

I look forward to sharing their story with you next month. As much as tales like this fill our hearts, they also serve as powerful models, and reminders of why those of us in the business of animal welfare care so much about rescue, spay/neuter and related efforts.

The face of a baby radiating his or her joy in life today while at the same time showing the shadows of scars from the past . . . that’s the face of this work. And the reason we so passionately work the heart beat.

Yours in everything pet,