As we drug our tired bodies to the puppy nursery last night for the 11 p.m. bed check, I was struck again at how incredibly blessed I am to be married to someone who loves me enough to do this. We were greeted by nine little puppy piranhas, attacking our ankles and hanging on our pant legs, while we tag-teamed to clean up pooh, put down fresh bedding, water and food. Not many men would traipse out to face this kind of task all hours of the night and day, for the love of their crazy, animal-loving wife. Sometimes I wonder; if you'd had a crystal ball and could see where marrying me would take you, would you have run for cover?
While preparing for our Faithful Friends Animal Advocates annual meeting, I reflected over the last five years. You and I have been propelled into non-stop animal rescue, fostering and the stressful, sometimes painful birth of a non-profit animal rescue organization. You have made countless sacrifices of your time, energy, sleep, our household finances and pairs of chewed up shoes.
You've interrupted your own work many times to keep me from going on an emergency rescue mission alone, only to have to make up that office time by burning the midnight oil. Time without canine orphans under foot, in addition to our own dogs, has been very rare since little Calvin was plopped down in the middle of the church parking lot five years ago. I know sometimes you feel like you live in a zoo with a revolving door (and I guess we do). Our "normal" would be anyone else's chaos.
Not only are you patient with the foster dogs and puppies, you are forever patient with my continual preoccupation with phone calls, text messages and emails. You even tolerate falling asleep to the clatter of my keyboard when I've brought the laptop to bed with me to catch up on computer work.
You've ridden "shotgun" with me down countless dirt back roads from the north end of Newton County to the southern border of McDonald County. You've crawled into places I know you didn't want to go, like muddy culverts, dark crawl spaces (with spiders) and wooded areas (covered with poison ivy). Frightened, abandoned dogs and puppies never hide in easy-to-get-to places. Many of our rescue adventures took us places where a "GPS" was useless. I knew you wondered if we'd ever find our way out, like the three hours we wandered the hills and woods east of Jane to rescue Miss Lilypad. You've kept a sense of humor (most of the time), even when Ace demolished our guest room and ate the chair or when Millie ate your billfold and everything in it.
I'm sure you thought you might have some home-cooked meals when we married, but animal rescue activity is never between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. I know you feel lucky if I am firing up the microwave before 9 p.m. Thank God for the Schwan's man!
Page 2 of 2 - You've become an expert at cleaning and disinfecting; especially the three "P's" (pee, poop and puke). You almost never grumble except to say, "We should have stock in a paper towel company."
You made the ultimate sacrifice to give up a large chunk of your nice new garage and workshop for a heated puppy nursery and a doggy door leading out to a nice outdoor pen, to keep Adeline and her twelve puppies (and so many others) safe, warm and healthy.
Someday I'll make a huge "thank-you" note for you, listing the names of all the foster puppies and dogs we've cared for since our lives together first began, but today's thank you is from me. Without your support, love, tender heart for me, for animals, and your committed willingness to do what it takes, Faithful Friends would not exist. I couldn't and wouldn't have done this with you.
The next chapter for us and for Faithful Friends is just beginning, as you will walk with me through the construction of our new adoption center. I'll try not to drive you crazy with it. Thank you, my dear and most faithful friend.
Leanne Williams writes a weekly column for the Daily News.