Madeline was surrendered to FWACC fourteen years ago today. She’s been dead for two and a half. She was such a presence and reassurance in my life for so many years, although I can’t help but wonder lately just how good of care I gave her. I’m aware that I left her alone more than she probably liked, and that when she started to be overwhelmed by people I reacted by isolating her rather than socializing. And I wonder how much of her behavioral issues were in response to discomfort from her medical condition.

I visited the site of her surrender once. It was a trailer park, a cold cement slab in the winter, no protection from the heat in the summer. I imagined her chained up outside, collar rubbing her neck raw, scabies and fleas infesting her coat. I imagined her shivering, huddling, trying to make herself as small as possible when Animal Care drove up. Why were they there? Called by a neighbor? There on an unrelated call? Whatever the reason, she was surrendered, although her owner refused to sign the paperwork releasing her.

Was she afraid when they took her? Did she want to go back, even though it was objectively awful, just because it’s what she knew? What was her animal reaction to the shelter? How did she know that I was safe when we first met and she nosed her way under my arm, next to me?

These are the questions that still circle my mind when I think of her. Which is often. These are the questions that I don’t ever expect to answer.