Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For the Love of Animals

My godmother, Eleanor HaugheyMy mother chose her best friend to be my godmother, and I will be forever grateful for her influence, fun, and love she brought to our lives. Eleanor never had her own children so we were all her extended family. She and her husband, Jack spent a lot of time with us, and they socialized often with my parents. Beautiful, stylish and funny, she was a devoted animal lover and risked her life many times over to rescue strays, arrange veterinary care and placement in suitable homes, for them all. She donated vast sums of money to support all sorts of organizations for the welfare of animals. I know of one time that she raced across many lanes of traffic in elegant dress clothes to rescue a puppy stranded in the median strip.
I believe that Eleanor and my mother are solely responsible for the fact that all my siblings and myself are hopelessly devoted cat lovers. Our house was always filled with cats and when Eleanor would come to visit on Christmas Eve, she would lay her beautiful fur coat on the floor so the cats could sleep on it. (Of course today, I just bet that Eleanor would NOT wear a fur coat)
When Eleanor died in the 90's, it nearly broke my mother's heart. Many times after that, Mum would get me aside and tearfully tell me how deeply grieved she was to lose her best friend.

Eleanor's dying wish was that her town establish a no-kill animal shelter and her will bequeathed a very generous amount of money to Scituate with which a lovely shelter was built. An incredible group of volunteers saw the project to completion and after a few years, they outgrew the space and began a fund raising campaign to buy land and build a new facility. Through the years my family has been involved in supporting the work of the shelter in small ways, and it was a favorite place for Dad and I to visit until very recently.
Last Saturday, the new building was officially opened and dedicated, and LM and I were there to present the shelter with the beautiful pastel portraitof Eleanor, shown above. It was very emotional for me, as it brought home all the pain of losing Eleanor and both my parents. They would love to have been there on Saturday. Through the tears (EVERYTHING makes me cry these days!), I took these photos. They are not the best but do capture some of the celebration. I did not photographs any of the lucky animals inside but suffice it to say, it was all I could do not to bring several home, and LM felt the same way.

The Eleanor R. Haughey Scituate Animal Shelter:

Approachng the main entrance there is a walkway paved with bricks purchased in memory of favorite pets and people who have been faithul friends of the shelter.
Eleanor's name right next to the entrance:
Cutting the ribbon (you can see the fog bank rolling in just as the ceremony was culminating).My mother and Eleanor would also be so happy to know that the shelter is run almost entirely by a very devoted group of women, many of them second generation volunteers.
Ms G approves!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story and memories!! And I love anyone who helps animals in need. Bob and I give $400 worth of dog and cat food twice a year for food to our animal shelter. (January & June) And I bring old newspapers every month. Our kitty Ernie came from our shelter. Ole' grumpy Ernie. Wonderful pictures of the Opening. You must be so proud!...debbie

Jack said...

Congratulations on the opening of the new building. Must be extremely gratifying. Well done. If you have a moment, I think you'll enjoy watching this brief video -- ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/2237 -- it's about one woman's "aha moment" that led her to start a no-kill animal shelter in Mississippi. The site was created by Mutual of Omaha to highlight good works, inspirational stories, and "aha moments" of all kinds. Perhaps you'll be inspired to share your own, very worthwhile story.