Practical Issues > Pets Index > Pet Care

What becomes of the brokenhearted --
especially when they're four-legged?


Tank has the most gorgeous brown eyes and a great smile.

He loves unconditionally. His whole body shakes with excitement when someone comes close.

Tank (his name has been changed to protect the innocent) is a dog at a shelter where I volunteer, and recently, I saw him have his heart broken.

People bring pets to the animal shelter for various reasons: illness, change of circumstances, lack of money.

But the animals are handled by caring people who spend time and energy trying to increase the newcomer's comfort.

Most of the animals appear lost for the first few days after their arrival, wondering where their humans have gone.

They don't seem to understand.

Sometimes, neither do I.

A young couple who arrived at the shelter and said they were looking for kittens, ended up in the dog kennels, near Tank.

They stopped at his cage and I joined them. "What a wonderful dog," they said.

They asked me to take him out for them to see.

I was thrilled. Tank has a special place in my heart.

I took the people and the dog to the meet-and-greet room. Tank was all over them, licking, playing and acting very excited.

I explained the adoption rules. I asked about their home. Tank is a large dog and many apartments and condominiums have weight restrictions. I asked about young children. Some large dogs should only go to homes with older children. But everything seemed fine.

Fifteen minutes later, though, the young man looked me right in the eye and said that he couldn't lie any more. The couple were Tank's original owners who had brought him to the shelter. They weren't looking for kittens, they weren't looking for a dog, they didn't own a house. They just wanted to check on Tank and make sure that he was OK.

I was angry, so thought it best that I not say much. I told them they should leave. We would find him a good home where he would be happy. I returned Tank to his kennel.

He was heartbroken, again. Tank had no idea where his humans were going, and why he wasn't going with them. Twice in one month.

I spent extra time with him after that, trying to console him and to make amends for my species.

Tank still waits; he still hopes; you can see it in his gorgeous brown eyes.

Jean Faulk is a page designer at the Herald-Tribune. Contact her at

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