How could you
by Jim Willis

       When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” – but then you’d relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs,” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.”

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them, especially their touch – because your touch was now so infrequent – and I would have defended them with my life if need be.

I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being your dog to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now you have a new career opportunity in another city and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with “papers.”

You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.

After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you – that you had changed your mind – that this was all a bad dream…or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself – a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
Copyright Jim Willis 2001, all rights reserved


For more information about Jim Willis, please use the link below.
From the author, Jim Willis. Taken from
Copyright Jim Willis 2001, all rights reserved

“How could you” was written as my attempt to change minds among the public and their perception of animals as disposable (Willis, 2001).
Was “how could you” inspired by a real dog? Yes, but a dog with a happy ending.  Although I’ve been just as frustrated for three decades as you are by the mass dumping of animals and how they are often regarded, it took a nine-year-old Basset Hound “Holly Golightly,” rescued by us on her last day from a kill shelter, to inspire me to write it.  I call “Holly” my muse, and she will have a good home with us for the rest of her life (Willis, 2001).

On behalf of the millions of pets who have lived and died in circumstances similar to the dog in “How Could You?” – I thank you for placing the message where those who need to read it most may do so.  Please help tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious (Willis, 2001). Copyright Jim Willis 2001, all rights reserved


Death Row’s Angels{ the sad meow}
by Alison Ludgate

{Meow}, where did my brother go today? that nice man took him away.
{Meow} I ask the cats here why?
{Meow} they tell me he has gone to the nice place in the sky.

{Meow} I don’t understand, how can this be?
{Meow} why did that nice man take him away from me?
I don’t understand {meow}, please sir how can this be?
Please {meow} bring my brother back to me.

For we were never hungry,
we were finally warm, safe, happy, loved, cuddled, and free,
{Meow} The pound seemed like such a nice safe place to be.

I don’t understand, the sky?
{Meow} please where can he be?
I’m alone,where did you take him?
{Meow} did you find his/our family?

Here comes that nice man again,
{Meow} please sir, where’s my brother? {meow} where is he?
I don’t understand {meow} where can he be?

He opens the cage, takes me in his arms and looks down at me
{Meow}, please sir, tell me where is my brother, did you find our family?
{Meow} the other cats whisper, it’s your turn now so please don’t be sad,
{Meow} and please don’t you cry,
{Meow} for your brother is waiting for you,
with all the other pound’s precious angels,
……… with God in the sky ………

“Seven Days”
By Tanya Bakx
He cleans the floor when I spill some food
He’s next to me when I have to brood

A common soul you might say
But it’s my effort at the end of the day.

My responsibility to provide a home and care
But let’s face it, that’s not exactly fair
Might he need the interaction we all so crave
If I do not give it, will he crawl into a cave

The answer is clear my friend
He will, and he will not defend
His one purpose in life to protect
Has now been refused, due to neglect

If I open my heart and let him wholly in
No other outcome, we both win
I will serve him as he serves me
That’s how it has to be

People will come and go in my life
But with him I have no strife
A wiggling tail and a happy face
A ball, A Stick, he is happy to chase

He greets me at the end of every day
If I did not do, all that I do, might he say
You shouldn’t have made that decision that day
Why would I want to live life this way

To buy me and bring me home from that store
But let’s face it, I really want more
You will make of me what you teach
The more you give, the higher I will reach

I want to be a dog of which you can be proud
So please, don’t leave me in the crowd
Of an unforgiving cage and ultimate death
It’s you, you are my breath

I know since we met a lot has changed
But I’m not an object easy to exchange
I plead with you, don’t leave me here
My last treat, I take with fear

You walked away without looking back
And I don’t understand how you could be so slack
Hot days pass and cold nights last long
In this concrete cell, it’s just so wrong

I wait a very long time, 7 days have now passed
A note on my cage, it said – PTS – this one last
I heard them say I am last in the que
because someone is coming, maybe rescue

So, in my final hours I wait
What will be, what is my fate?
Very late on that final day
A lady comes and she takes me away

I don’t know where we are going
But she seems to have a sense of knowing
I didn’t understand, my life just started all over again
7 days have passed and I can’t complain

I have a home a bed and lots of care
And a kind human which I thought was rare
I walk around, in an out of this place
And whenever I look up, there is that friendly face

Now in my life I have more than just a mate
Little did I know that day, this was my fate

Rescued Cat
also known as The Circle – for dogs
by Arlene Pace



Once I was a lonely cat, just looking for a home.
I had no place to go, no one to call my own.
I wandered up and down the streets, in rain in heat and snow.
I ate whatever I could find, I was always on the go.
My skin would itch, my feet were sore, My body ached with pain.
And no one stopped to give a pat, Or gently say my nameI never saw a loving glance, I was always on the run.
For people thought that hurting me was really lots of fun.
And then one day I heard a voice So gentle, kind and sweet,
And arms so soft reached down to me And took me off my feet.”No one again will hurt you Was whispered in my ear.”
“You’ll have a home to call your own where you will know no fear”
“You will be dry, you will be warm, you’ll have enough to eat”
“And rest assured that when you sleep, your dreams will all be sweet”.I was afraid I must admit, I’ve lived so long in fear.
I can’t remember when I let A human come so near.
And as she tended to my wounds And bathed and brushed my fur
She told me ’bout the rescue group And what it meant to her.She said, “We are a circle, A line that never ends”.
“And in the centre there is you protected by new friends”.
“And all around you are the ones that check the pounds,
And those that share their home after you’ve been found”.
“And all the other folk are searching near and far.
“To find the perfect home for you, where you can be a star”.She said, “There is a family, that’s waiting patiently,
and pretty soon we’ll find them, just you wait and see”.
“And then they’ll join our circle, they’ll help to make it grow,
so there’ll be room for more like you, who have no place to go”.I waited very patiently, The days they came and went.
Today’s the day I thought, my family will be sent.
Then just when I began to think It wasn’t meant to be,
there were people standing there just gazing down at me,
I knew them in a heart beat, I could tell they felt it too.
They said, “We have been waiting for a special cat like you”.Now every night I say a prayer to all the gods that be.
“Thank you for the life I live and all you’ve given me.
But most of all protect the cats in the pound and on the street.
And send a Rescue Person to lift them off their feet”.© 1996-2006 Hugs for Homeless Animals

“Good Night, Precious”

Copyright Jim Willis 2002
A poem written especially for the “Killing With Kindness” campaign
by the author of “How Could You?” (

Before you die, unwanted one,
I swear there was no way,
I tried — I did! — I promise…
I cried, I cursed, I prayed.

I mailed, I called, I pleaded,
for one to make room for you,
but only Heaven responded,
and there you’ll find your due.

You’ve the most honest eyes I’ve seen,
a heart so loyal and true —
but our society has decided,
you’ve no purpose or value.

I wish that I could change things,
you’ve been wronged — it is not right!
But all I can offer, Precious…
a gentle passing into that good night.

I Wait
By Karen Tracer

days into nights
nights into days
I wait
for someone
to like me

an array of people
pass by
to me
I wait

I do my antics
I strut my stuff
I sit
I stand
chest puffed out
I bark
I purr
I wait

I am homeless
no family
no master
no love
I wait
I wait

for someone
to like me
to love me
take me home
I dream
I wait

I am homeless
like me
love me
I wait

© 1996-2006 Hugs for Homeless Animals

Prayer of a Stray

Dear God please send me somebody who’ll care!
I’m tried of running, I’m sick with despair.
My body is aching, it’s so racked with pain,
and dear God I pray as I run in the rain.
That someone will love me and give me a home.
A warm cozy bed and a big juicy bone.

My last owner tied me all day in the yard
Sometimes with no water and God that was hard!
So I chewed my leash God and I ran away
To rummage in garbage and live as a stray.

But now God I’m tired and hungry and cold.
And I’m so afraid that I’ll never grow old.
They’ve chased me with sticks and hit me with stones
While I run the streets just looking for bones!

I’m not really bad God, please help if you can,
For I have become just a “victim of man!
I’m wormy dear God and I’m ridden with fleas and
All that I want is an owner to please!

If you find one for me God, I’ll try to be good
And I won’t chew their shoes, but I’ll do as I should.
I’ll love them, protect them and try to obey
When they tell me to sit, to lie down or to stay!

I don’t think I’ll make it too long on my own,
Cause I’m getting so weak and I’m so all along.
Each night as I sleep in the bushes I cry,
Cause I’m so afraid God, that I’m gonna die!

And I’ve got so much love and devotion to give,
That I should be given a new chance to live.
So dear God please, please answer my prayer and
Send me someone who will really care …
That is, dear God, if you’re really there!

© 1996-2006 Hugs for Homeless Animals

Easter Bunny
by Mary Brandolino
In memory of all the bunnies we couldn’t save.

I remember Easter Sunday
It was colorful and fun
The new life that I’d begun
In my new cage.

I was just a little thing
When they brought me from the store
And they put me on the floor
In my cage.

They would take me out to play
Love and pet me all the time
Then at day’s end I would climb
In my cage.

But as days and weeks went by
I saw less of them it seemed
Of their loving touch I dreamed
In my cage.

In the night outside their house
I felt sad and so neglected
Often scared and unprotected
In my cage.

In the dry or rainy weather
Sometimes hotter sometimes colder
I just sat there growing older
In my cage.

The cat and dog raced by me
Playing with each other only
While I sat there feeling lonely
In my cage.

Upon the fresh green grass
Children skipped and laughed all day
I could only watch them play
From my cage.

They used to take me out
And let me scamper in the sun
I no longer get to run
In my cage.

Once a cute and cuddly bunny
Like a little ball of cotton
Now I’m grown up and forgotten
In my cage.

I don’t know what went wrong
At the home I did inhabit
I just grew to be a rabbit
In my cage.

But they’ve brought me to the pound
I was once loved and enjoyed
Now I wait to be destroyed
In my cage.

© 1996-2006 Hugs for Homeless Animals

Stray Cat
by Francis Witham

Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you, homeless, to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth, and food.

For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
While he, with purr and velvet paw
Became within my house, The Law

He scratched the furniture and shed.
And claimed the middle of my bed.
He ruled in arrogance and pride
And the heart the day he died

So if you really think, oh cat,
I’d willingly relive all that
Because you come, forlorn and thin
Well…don’t just stand there…come on in!

© 1996-2006 Hugs for Homeless Animals


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE? You can, as long as you include the following, complete statement and a link back to the original article:

Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog’s professional dog trainer. Janine’s passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behaviour to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2009 Rescue Me Dog;

Little Cat
(The Disposable Animals)
by Kristen Sharer

Where did you come from, little cat?
How did you end up in a life like that?
Cold and alone
Nowhere to turn
Hungry and sick
Tired and worn.

Did you once have a home, little cat?
Where you curled up in a chair, lazy and fat?
Happy and snug
life was a charm
Content and well-fed.
Safe from all harm.

Did something go wrong, little cat?
That you ended up in this state that you’re at?
Scared and so sore
No one to trust
Lonely and dying
In a world so unjust.

Do you still have dreams, little cat?
Can you still remember soft, gentle pats?
Comfy and soft
Nothing to fear.
Sleepy and safe,
Never a care.

Who will be there for you, little cat?
Who will hug you and hold you close, little cat?
Lonely and dying
Cold and alone.
No one to trust
You once had a home.

Where did you come from, little cat?

© 1996-2006 Hugs for Homeless Animals

C H Campagna

Somebody’s cat went missing last night,
Somebody’s cat had a terrible fright,
Somebody’s cat was very brave,
So many kind people his life tried to save.

No-one’s name hung from his collar last night,
Just a strip of tape for reflecting the light,
But a small strip of tape can in no way compete,
With so many cars and a busy town street.

It’s such a dangerous world outside for cats,
With fast cars and dogs and with poisoned rats,
Someone, somewhere by a window will wait,
Thinks: “He’ll be home soon, though it’s now late.”

Just a number to call could have meant, instead
Of kind strangers, she could have held his head,
I wonder if she’s sorry she let her cat roam,
When he could have been so safe in her home?

The morning sun would have warmed his soft fur,
As he sat on her lap to wash and to purr.
Somebody’s cat gave death quite a fight,
When somebody’s cat died late last night.


(The Meaning of Rescue)
By Evelyn Colbath(c)1995 Baggage All rights reserved

Now that I’m home, bathed, settled and fed,
All nicely tucked in my warm new bed,
I’d like to open my baggage,
Lest I forget,
There is so much to carry,
So much to regret.

Hmmm…Yes, there it is, right on the top,
Let’s unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my perch hides Fear and Shame.
As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave,
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.
I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn’t good enough – for they didn’t want me.

Will you add to my baggage?
Will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things,
And take me right back?
Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage, to never repack?
I pray that you do – I’m so tired you see,
But I do come with baggage,
Will you still want me?


Cat’s Prayer
Author Unknown

I hope I’m not asking too much, Lord;
All I want is a home of my own,
And to know when my next meal is coming
Instead of the scraps I get thrown.

I’ve been out in the cold for so long now,
Just coping as best as I can;
But it’s not been so long I’ve forgotten
The touch of a soft caring hand.

I look in house windows at Christmas,
As cats doze by the fire, quite replete;
How I’d welcome a box in the kitchen,
And tasty food for me to eat.

For me there was tinsel and gift wrap,
But the fun didn’t last very long.
They put me outside with the rubbish;
I still don’t know what I did wrong.

I really don’t want to be greedy;
At the moment I’m all skin and bone,
So would it be too much to hope for
That someone will give me a home?


Fosters Poem
Denise Uriarte

There I sat, alone and afraid,
You got a call and came right to my aid.
You bundled me up with blankets and love,
And, when I needed it most, you gave me a hug.

I learned that the world was not all that scary and cold,
That sometimes there is someone to have and to hold.
You taught me what love is, you helped me to mend.
You loved me and healed me and became my first friend.

And just when I thought you’d done all you could do.
There came along not one new lesson, but two.

First you said, “Sweetheart, you’re ready to go,
I’ve done all I can, and you’ve learned all I know.”
Then you bundled me up with a blanket and kiss,
Along came a new family, they even have kids!

They took me to their home, forever to stay,
At first I thought you had sent me away.
Then that second lesson became perfectly clear,
No matter how far, you will always be near.

And so, Foster Mom, you know I’ve moved on,
I have a new home, with toys and a lawn.
But I’ll never forget what I learned that first day,
You never really give your fosters away.

You gave me these thoughts to remember you by,
We may never meet again, and now I know why.
You’ll remember I lived with you for a time,
I may not be yours, but you’ll always be mine.


“The Animals’ Saviour”
Copyright Jim Willis 1999

I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter…the cast-offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal.
And I was angry.

“God,” I said, “this is terrible! Why don’t you do something?”
God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly.
“I have done something,” He replied.
“I created you.”

The Rescuers Final Reward

by Benny Archuleta

“The Rescuer’s Final Reward”

Unlike most days at the Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray.
All the recent arrivals at the Bridge did not know what to think, as they had never seen such a day. But the animals who had been waiting longer for their beloved people to accompany them across the Bridge knew what was happening, and they began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge.Soon an elderly dog came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. He approached slowly, and though he showed no sign of injury or illness, he was in great emotional pain. Unlike the animals gathered along the pathway, he had not been restored to youth and vigour upon arriving at the Bridge. He felt out of place, and wanted only to cross over and find happiness.

But as he approached the Bridge, his way was barred by an angel, who apologized and explained that the tired and broken-spirited old dog could not cross over. Only those animals accompanied by their people were allowed to cross the Bridge. Having nobody, and with nowhere else to turn, the dog trudged into the field in front of the Bridge.

There he found others like himself, elderly or infirm, sad and discouraged. Unlike the other animals waiting to cross the Bridge, these animals were not running or playing. They simply were lying in the grass, staring forlornly at the pathway across the Rainbow Bridge. The old dog took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting. yet not knowing for what he was waiting.

One of the newer dogs at the Bridge asked a cat who had been there longer to explain what was happening. The cat replied, “Those poor animals were abandoned, turned away, or left at rescue places, but never found a home on earth. They all passed on with only the love of a rescuer to comfort them. Because they had no people to love them, they have nobody to escort them across the Rainbow Bridge.”

The dog asked the cat, “So what will happen to those animals?” Before the cat could answer, the clouds began to part and the cold turned to bright sunshine. The cat replied, “Watch, and you will see.”

In the distance was a single person, and as he approached the Bridge the old, infirm and sad animals in the field were bathed in a golden light.

They were at once made young and healthy, and stood to see what their fate would be. The animals who had previously gathered at the pathway bowed their heads as the person approached. At each bowed head, the person offered a scratch or hug. One by one, the now youthful and healthy animals from the field fell into line behind the person. Together, they walked across the Rainbow Bridge to a future of happiness and unquestioned love.

The dog asked the cat, “What just happened?”

The cat responded, “That was a rescuer. The animals gathered along the pathway bowing in respect were those who had found their forever homes because of rescuers. They will cross over when their people arrive at the Bridge. The arrival here of a rescuer is a great and solemn event, and as a tribute they are permitted to perform one final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort all those poor animals they couldn’t place on earth across the Rainbow Bridge.”

The dog thought for a moment, then said, “I like rescuers.” The cat smiled and replied, “So does heaven, my friend. So does heaven

The author grants permission for re-publication without restriction Benny Archuleta