The Rescue

The word 'rescue' began as a verb.  Born within the murk of Middle English, in the 14th century, 'to rescue'  meant to deliver, to save, to redeem…from dragons, rogue knights, a hidden sun…whatever dangers lurked in the medieval imagination.

Through the years this word continued to retain its meaning of safety and redemption – danger continues to lurk, though not so scaly or roguish.  And astronomy seems to be behaving itself.  But there is danger, and we still need to be rescued.

But recently, I have heard 'rescue' used as a noun.  People aren't the only creatures that need help.  And when that blessing is bestowed on an animal, it is so profound and worthy an act that the verb solidifies; it becomes a noun, a definition, a label.

I was walking to work.  And I saw acted out before me a touching little scene:  a man, about to dial his cellphone, was speaking to his dog, a dalmatian mix.  I heard the words, "Sit…Sit…", he spoke in a steady voice, not loud, not irritable.  The cellphone could clearly wait.  The dog sat obediently, looking into her master's face with intelligence and complete devotion.

The path I was on would take me between the two.  And when I did, I looked at the dog's sweet face, and held out my hand.  She leaned forward, sniffing, trying to make some canine sense out of the gloves I was wearing.  But when I tried to pet her, she quickly pulled her head back, even though the questions still waited in her dark eyes.

Well, I reasoned, sometimes an animal isn't ready.  I started to move away, but the inquisitive nose was back again.  But she wasn't able to trust a stranger's kindness.  Her owner said, in a type of soft embarrassment, "Oh, she's curious, but very, very shy.  She's a rescue."

A noun.  A definition.  A label

As he was explaining her status to me, her interest got the better of her, and she walked a timid circle around me.  And as I walked away, I turned to wish the man a good morning, and saw the pretty dalmatian watching me – unsure of who I was, yet sorry to see me go.

I hope that this man will continue to use his patience.  I hope that he will embrace the affection and allegience this dog will one day be ready to give him.  Because if he does, he will certainly have a gentle, grateful frirend for the rest of his life.

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9 responses to “The Rescue

  1. Actually 'Middle English' is geographical as well as the half way stage between Anglo/Saxon and modern English. The three ethnic groups that make up the lanquage are Celts driven to the western fringes of the UK by the Romans and the Anglo Saxons who migrated to what is now southern England living in anything ending in SEX like Sussex, Essex, Wessex, Middlesex etc. The Norse Vikings setted in the north of England with their capitol being York (Yarvig). The front line was a line between the Wirral Peninsula and the River Tees. It came to a head in 937 AD when a battle was fought in Bromborough on the Wirral (Brunaburah). In which the Anglo-Saxons defeated the combined Celts and Vikings. Then they all all settled down and the three tongues combined – in to English. This new lanquage was 50% Anglo-Saxon (Olde English) and the rest made up of Norse and Celt. Any sentence we speak today has this same make up – over 1000 years later. The Wirral was Norse with 'Wirral' being norse for 'finger of land'. We also have 'Thingwall' – meeting place and lots of villages ending in 'by' which is norse for 'place of'. This accounts for the British dialects you hear today – it just depended on which ethnic group you were mostly from. Ship/bath/bridge and that are Anglo/Saxon
    Freckle/leg/skull/meek/rotten are Norse and pronouns like they, them and their are norse adapted into English. The celts additions are largely place names and geographical descriptions like valley or rolling.
    So the next time you use a combination such as 'Thingwall in the valley over there next to the bridge with a river rolling through it.' Has all three groups of the melting pot.
    It's all in here:

  2. How sweet! It's one word that says so much about an animal's history, and immediately clues one in to the kindness of those who give them homes.

  3. j and you are right — one word and it just says so much. (good and bad.) I get so sad thinking of all the animals in this world who will never get the love they deserve. all the animals who are mistreated and abused and that's all they'll ever know. it breaks my heart thinking about it. People who rescue animals are angels on earth.

  4. This is beautiful. I've met a number of human rescues also. It is amazing what love and patience will do for any creature.

  5. Beautiful post! Enjoyed reading it! I loved the line "And when that blessing is bestowed on an animal, it is so profound and
    worthy an act that the verb solidifies; it becomes a noun, a
    definition, a label." 🙂

  6. Lovely story of patience with a shy dog, I'm heartened every time I hear of a good guardian. Thanks for that defenition – it's especially fitting that the original meaning mentions delivering – because quite often it involves removing an animal from a bad situation, and brining them to where they really belong.

  7. fantastically well put! You have such a wonderful way with words, thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

  8. The first time I saw "rescue" in this context I was really confused. I saw someone interviewed on tv and they said "he's a rescue dog….." and I thought that meant he was like a Saint Bernard ready to enter the fray to find some lost person! I was doubly confused because the dog was barely bigger than a lap dog! 🙂 I don't think I understood this totally until someone described their cat as a rescue.

  9. Bless him. People with patience and compassion are the ones who should have pets…and children, for that matter.

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