The following blogs (Jan 27-Feb 13) will feature dogs I met at Maddie’s Adoption Center at the San Francisco SPCA.

The adoption center is a clean, bright, bustling place. Although the accommodations are humble, the dogs here are treated as royalty. They’re fed, kept warm and dry, and their battle scars are conscientiously looked after. From the other side of the modern glass cubicles in which they find themselves, they hear encouraging words from strangers. (Should I bark? some seem to wonder in response. How can I not? Yet what is there to protect but a hollow, green and deep…) Spotting a volunteer with leash in hand is a coveted moment. The dogs’ individual natures are encouraged, if not indulged, by the bighearted staff. Saint Francis’s influence as the patron saint of animals is also felt: it’s probably no coincidence that the San Francisco SPCA is “the birthplace of the no-kill movement”. Nevertheless, each dog is in transition, coming from a place we may never know, innocently balanced (one can see it in the eyes) between hope and hopelessness.