Unbreakable Spirit

Happy no matter what!

The little dog huddled in a corner. She was covered in her own feces and was trembling with fear. It was so noisy; she could only hear dogs barking non-stop. She didn’t recognize the room and had no idea why she was there. Feeling very alone, she scrunched herself into the corner, making herself as invisible as possible. Wherever I am, she thought, it doesn’t feel like home.

Above the entrance to the door was a sign: Euthanasia Room.

It was Thursday afternoon as Kathy made her way through the shelter. She volunteered there once a week. As she passed the Euthanasia Room, she noticed how full the cages were.

“How sad,” she thought. “All these dogs should be going to homes today.”

She hated that room and tried not to pass it. Today was different, though. And as she went by the door and glanced in, she couldn’t help but notice a tiny little dog in the corner.

“What in the world?” she said to herself. “Who left this little one on the floor?”

With that, she marched straight into the room and picked her up. The little dog froze in terror. Kathy was overcome with emotion; it felt she was holding an innocent, helpless baby in her arms.

That day, Kathy walked out of the shelter with the little dog. She didn’t know what she was going to do. She just knew she couldn’t leave her there to die.


Through a series of wonderful “coincidences,” Dottie came into my life when she was 13 years old — too old to be considered worth saving in most shelters. And yet, she was highlighted energetically to the volunteer, whose heart cracked open instantly. It was as if God had pointed a finger directly at her.

When Dottie arrived at my home, she brought all her past life issues with her. Her nerves were shot, and she jumped at the slightest sound. This made her body shake violently. If a man came anywhere near her, she instantly peed on the floor. She barked at the other dogs, warning them to stay away from her. She trusted no one and had no friends except me. She kept to herself for months.

Over time, as Dottie grew calmer and felt safer, her true personality started to emerge. I watched as she faced all her inner demons, one by one. Whenever a fear or an old pattern of behavior would arise, she would try her best to face it by not automatically reacting. Fiercely independent, she had the attitude of a 2 year old who says “I can do this myself!”

Dottie soon became known as “Dottie, the Princess” — we were happy to cater to her every whim! Even the other dogs three times her size enjoyed stopping by her sitting spot to say hello. Yes, Dottie had us all wrapped around her paws.

I often marvel at the spirit of this tiny little dog who has had every reason to give up. Yet, she has made every effort to live life to the fullest. She has taught me time and again that circumstances and age don’t define us; only we do that. She has pulled herself up from the depths of despair to live the life of her dreams.

Dottie is 20 years old now. She is still teaching all of us how to truly live an independent life. Her back legs don’t work anymore. Her front legs bend when she tries to stand up. And she has to pull herself forward in order to get around. If anyone were to look at her physical mobility, they might be tempted to say, “She’s had a good life, but now she’s done.” However, Dottie has a different opinion.

Not only does she still have a great attitude, but she barks with joy and wags her little tiny tail every chance she gets. When we go outside, she sniffs the grass and ground in great appreciation. And if a dog races by her too fast, she lets them know in no uncertain terms how a princess should be treated! Dottie reminds me every day to see life through her eyes — happy no matter what!

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