There is a special place in heaven for… We have all heard this phrase at one time or another, each time the sentence is finished with a description of someone who is known for brave, or compassionate acts. It is so comforting and inspiring to know that people with the gift to enhance the lives of others exist; that this lives in all of us each and every day.

To those who rescue animals on a daily basis – who network with others to foster, rehabilitate and find homes for deserving animals left homeless, and who literally save animals from harm or dangerous circumstances and bring them to safety, I am indebted. What you do is extraordinary and without your passion and open-heartedness, the homeless pet population would grow from the unconscionable statistic it is to something even more hideous and unfathomable. Many of these organizations are listed on our Friends page and I am in awe of them and the work they do.

What is a particular mystery to me is how people reach out to animals surrendered in not only the twilight of their lives, but with significant health issues or injuries, that were essentially left to die alone. I understand why they do it- the act of saving these animals, taking them from empty souls to wagging tails- proving they actually had much life left to live with the outpouring of love and care they receive. The reward has to be beyond comprehension. How they emotionally handle it so often is another matter.

One woman in particular, Toby Wisneski, of Leave No Paws Behind, in Sunland, CA, is this very kind of person. Her compassion is so broad it often extends to the family who left their dog behind- she understands the financial devastation and the desperation that can come when caring for oneself and continuing to care for a pet is a one or the other proposition. She gives dogs with often the least chance of ever being rehomed, a true chance to live with joy to the fullest- whether it is for moments or years.

I am often impressed to the point of speechlessness when I read updates on her LNPB Facebook page. She and her team of volunteers and veterinary support, are devoted to making sure these animals know their life matters, and in the closing moments of their lives, she makes sure they know unconditional love. I have read where Toby has reached out to families that surrendered their dog, inviting them to say goodbye to the animal when that time comes; she has intervened and facilitated an animal making its way back to its family, technically as a foster, but with Toby’s careful eye and that of the Leave No Paws behind network watching over to be sure all is well.

To all the Toby’s out there doing this work, I don’t know what to call what you possess to be able to consistently offer your hearts in this manner, but selflessness may have to do.