Michaela, one of the things waiting for you here at home is a pack of little dogs! We have Spikey, who is an 11-year old Miniature Pinscher, weighing in at 6.5 pounds. Then there are three other dogs we adopted from the animal shelter. Sophia is jet black, a chihuahua according to the shelter, although we are pretty sure she has some dachshund in her, and Zelda is Sophie’s baby, a honey blonde chihuahua mix, who was found wandering the streets with her mom when she was still quite little.

After we adopted Sophie and Zelda, your youngest sister Johnna went to work as a volunteer at the shelter, and that ended up bringing the fourth member into our little pack. Zero is a blonde whippet/chihuahua mix. Johnna mentioned him when he was first brought to the shelter. She was charmed by him, and by the way he folded his long, long legs up inside himself when he was picked up. Time went by, though, and Zero (then called Kashi by the shelter) did not get adopted. After four months Johnna mentioned him again. Extended periods of time in the shelter take their toll on a dog emotionally, and, well, dogs don’t stay forever waiting for a home. So that was it for me. We brought him home.

Zero has his problems. When we first got him, if he was sitting with you when you opened a can of soda, he was off like a shot across the room in fear.  Firecrackers or other loud noises make him curl into a ball and tremble in fear. Shaking out a trash bag does this also, and sometimes just the sight of a person holding a book and walking across the room will make him quiver in fear. He has some odd scars on the inside of his rear legs, and when I took him to dog training classes, he was unable to use the standard choke collar. Instead we had to use a harness. The trainer said it was likely he had been choked at some point and had sustained damage to his trachea.

Zero (with Zelda to the left)

Sometimes when Zero is afraid I will sit and hold him, and I will tell him that he is loved and he is safe. I look into his beautiful little face and I picture the happy, innocent puppy he was, and I cannot understand how anybody could take that joy and innocence from him. I tell him how much I wish he had always been my dog, and how sorry I am that he had ever been hurt. And I just hold him some more. We have had him for almost nine months now, and he still has his quirks and his fears, but you can open a soda while you are holding him now anyway. He knows who loves him, and he loves in return. At night he likes to lay across me when we sleep, and somehow it makes us both feel safe.

I realized recently, Michaela, that he reminds me of you, that if you are alive somewhere that it is most likely that you have suffered untold abuse. I see you often in my mind as the little girl you were, so innocent, and I am so absolutely furious that anybody thought they had a right to take that innocence from you. You were my little girl, to love and hold and protect. But what’s done is done, and I know that it is unlikely that you would have survived the last 26 years without suffering essential damage to your heart and mind.

The thing I want you to know, Michaela, is that I don’t just envision you as the little girl you were. I envision you as the adult woman that you are. And I don’t just see your innocence. I see your wounds, your fears, your hurt, and I not only fully accept you not for who you were but for whoever you are today.  It is that person that I long for, that grown up woman that I long to hold and love, and pray that all the love waiting for you will help to heal all the hurts you have suffered.

I just want you to know that I love you, Michaela, forever and always, wherever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you have done, whatever has been done to you. I love you, and I just want to hold you and tell you not to be afraid, that you are safe, that you are loved.


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