IMG_9333.jpg

The Brahman Blogger...

There are some people who are born with an affinity for animals. Some tend to be "cat" people, others are "dog" lovers. I however always thought I was born without an animal gene, kids were my kryptonite, there simply couldn't be enough room in my heart for those cute little humans and those little animals too. Or could there?     Between August 8 and August 14, Louisiana was pummeled by rain. Thousands of residents lost their homes, 10,000 people had to be rescued and brought to shelters, and at least 1,400 pets were rescued. Animals shelters filled quickly with cats and dogs who were separated from their owners and even those people that wanted to keep their belovedpets, no longer had the resources or home to care for them. In turn, 4,000 animals were living in animal shelters which have a euthanasia rate of 90%.  But the enormous hearts of local San Diego animal rescue groups heard the call of the animals in fear, and a quick effort to rescue the dogs was set in motion. Thrive Animal rescue founder Cece Bloum and her team of angels sent out an SOS to their fellow animal lovers, and immediately they were "flooded with love".  Donations poured in, volunteers signed up to assist in the welcoming of the dogs, and foster and adoptive parents signed up to house the pets when they arrived.     For several days, I watched these "flooded with love" links fill my Facebook page, friend after friend posted photos and videos of these dogs, the thrive link called me to click on it.  BrahmanKyrie and the Brahman Project began posting links, asking for volunteers to join, and before I knew it, I had committed to "wash" the doggies when they arrived.  I've walked dogs a handful of times in my life, mostly because families I nannied for had dogs, I've feigned interest when friends dogs rubbed up against me, but mostly, I just hoped the dog hair wouldn't stick to my clothes and these sweet pups wouldn't turn into Kujo when they smelled my fear.  So the idea of washing dogs who were rescued from floods, stayed in overcrowded shelters, and then spent many hours in crates on a small plane, shouldn't have seemed appealing to me, but for some reason it was.   On Friday, September 23, the need for dog washing changed to dog welcoming and crate cleaning.  I considered backing out, after all I was going camping later that day, driving 30 miles out of my way during Friday rush hour was a bit of an inconvenience.  Besides, wouldn't everyone notice that I was a fraud? I wasn't going to be "flooded with love" like all the other dog people, I was just being of service.  But I went, because sometimes that's all that being of service is, showing up, when you are uncomfortable, when there are better things to do, and bringing your best self anyway.    Under a bright blue sky, I awkwardly joined hundreds of volunteers buzzing with anticipation on the Tarmac of a small airport.  Everyone wore matching t-shirts that literally stated that they were #floodedwithlove. I wore a green tank top that said, make waves.  I felt the familiar fear of not belonging and reminded myself, this isn't about you, it's about the dogs. And suddenly the "Wings of Love" airplane came into view and l felt myself get caught up in the emotion.  Someone next to me whispered, "this is so exciting" and I had to admit, it was.  Here we were, hundreds of San Diego residents, waiting to welcome 60+ dogs from Louisiana to the Golden State.  From the flood waters of the Bayou to the salty waves of the Pacific Ocean, these dogs had a purpose.  I realized, I did too.   As the engines cut and the cockpit door opened, silence and tears momentarily washed over the Tarmac.  But the silence was quickly interrupted by the beautiful sound of one angelic bark. And with that, the dogs announced their arrival and the true meaning of flooded with love hit home. It suddenly became evident, we weren't here to rescue these dogs, they had come to rescue us.   Dog crate after dog crate was unloaded from the plane and volunteers held fearful dogs in their arms, reassuring them, they were finally safe.  All across the Tarmac dogs ran around, jumping, sniffing, and marking their new home.  News reporters filmed the miracle that was taking place, these dogs had been minutes away from being put down, only to be rescued.  I knew how they felt. To be moments away from darkness only to be welcomed into the bright light of love, it's an overwhelming experience. And so I knelt down next to dog after dog, hugged them in my arms, and whispered into their ears, "you're safe here. You're so lucky! You get to live in the most beautiful place and you're going to be so loved."    And little by little, the heart that I once thought only had enough room for babies and kids, grew. It stretched and it made room, for more.  That's the thing about the heart, it doesn't really get flooded with love, the way land can be flooded by water.   Instead it just expands to hold it all.  If we let it, it can hold it all.

-Mali Woods-Drake.