All I Want For Christmas…is a happy home.

Dear Santa Claws,

My name is Max. At least that’s what my previous owners called me. I’m writing you in hope for a miracle this year. Unlike humans, I can’t sit on your lap and whisper to you what I want for Christmas. God didn’t give me a voice the human ear can understand, so I have to speak from my heart and I know you’re paying attention. After all, you’re Santa.

I live in an animal shelter and I am surrounded by a large run with concrete below me, and steel bowls with food and water beside me. There are a bunch of other dogs and cats of all kinds and sizes in this place, all scared like me. I never thought a place like this was real, at least not for me.

Just last Christmas, I had a home where I had a big yard to run and play, a bed to sleep in and loving humans who fed me every day and showered me with love and treats. Now, I live in a cage, am let out to run in a small yard and get to go on an occasional walk with one of the volunteers. All I want for Christmas this year, and it seems like it’s becoming impossible to obtain, is to be rescued from this place and to find a forever home. I’m not asking for the world, but is it too much to ask to be let into one person’s world?

What’s my story? One day I was standing in my front yard and my owners were telling me they loved me but they had to go and couldn’t take me with them. Needless to say, I was confused. What did they mean? They gave me my favorite treat and a bone, hugged me really tight and told me to be a good boy as they drove off. I wasn’t sure what to do so I sat on the front porch, protecting the house like I always do, and waited for them to come back. Day turned to night, and days to weeks. They never came back for me. How could they just leave me? Everything that I knew suddenly disappeared and I was on my own.

I wandered the streets tired, lonely, hungry and sore. I fell asleep from exhaustion and when I woke up, I was here. I didn’t have any tags on me, so no one knew who I was. I wish my owners would have made sure I could be properly identified. All I wanted to do was scream, “Wait, I don’t belong here!”

There are others like me here as well. Some are just puppies, and some are really old. I’ve noticed a few are injured or sick, and they keep me up at night crying. Some are more vocal and just bang on the gates or bark. The cat’s meows are long but hopeful. They are placed in their own rooms so I don’t see them often, but know they have to be lonely too.

It’s depressing in here watching those around me sit and stare in defeat. Even with lots of other dogs nearby, I’m lonely, confused and afraid. Is this jail? I loved and protected my owners unconditionally, so what is my crime?

… Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I’m not on the streets anymore, but shelters can’t keep us forever. If we’re not adopted out in a timely manner, we are led to a door that becomes a one-way bridge we have to cross. We all fear that door and hope that day never comes for us. If we’re lucky, we end up at a no-kill shelter, but those are becoming much rarer to find. Some of us are here so long that we get kennel stress and become so anxious or aggressive that no one finds us suitable for their home.

We’re not damaged goods. All we need is patience, love and help finding our way again.

Please Santa, I know that we’re not all perfect, but when you’re sitting there checking your list, trying to find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice — please know that we’re simply victims of circumstance and our only crime is a lack of a good home. This is about people problems, not dog problems. You won’t find a chimney or a Christmas tree here. This gift doesn’t come in a box wrapped under a tree. It’s wrapped inside a problem. The bow is delicately woven around someone’s heart, which in turn has to be open to receiving this gift.

This year, all I want for Christmas is for me and my friends here at the shelter to be rescued and to find our forever homes.

Santa, I’m starting to forget what a real home feels like. I’m starting to forget what love feels like. I have to believe that there are still good people in this world capable of doing the right thing. I have to believe there is someone out there with a heart like mine. There just has to be someone out there with a pet on their Christmas list this year. Can your elves work extra hard and find anyone, young or old, who is wishing for a dog like me?

P.S. While you’re delivering gifts to boys and girls around the world, can you leave them a little note letting them know if they are unable to adopt, they can always donate their time, money and items such as food, blankets, and toys to the shelter? It’s cold here in the winter without much heat.

I’ve also heard from my friends here that some have gone to live with foster or temporary families until they find their forever homes. What a joy that must be to get out of the shelter and be in a real home! Sometimes, humans come into the shelter and volunteer to help take care of us, too — they take us on walks, play with us out in the yard, bathe us, clean our runs, feed us and we get lots of cuddles! Can you please tell everyone that if they can’t adopt or donate their money, they can also help by fostering or volunteering? None of us wants to be here, but I’m grateful for those who make my life more comfortable while I’m still here. Trust me, a little bit of love goes a long way!

If they don’t know where to find me and my friends, I’ve included that information also.

For more information on pets available for adoption, hours, location and fees, please contact your local animal shelters. Their miracle is waiting!

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About sherrihasley

My professional writing career began while attending Los Angeles City College as a Journalism student where I was Lifestyles Editor for the campus newspaper. For two years I was the Editorial Director for Travel News Today, and am now a freelance writer. With several travel and restaurant reviews published in Citynet magazine, I have also had works of poetry published in 2009 for "New Love Stories" magazine, and Theater of the Mind, a poetry anthology. I now reside in Joshua Tree, CA and continue to freelance. In addition to writing, I am an animal advocate, loves nature and the outdoors, explorer, fitness enthusiast, thrill seeker, adventure junkie, loves books and reading, holistic and healing practices and therapies, spas, massage, and I embrace my family and friends. I'm looking to network with creative and compassionate souls. I am excited discuss ideas...never stop dreaming!
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