[from Christian Science Monitor]
ST. LOUIS – It's the thought of their fear that troubles him most.
Homeless dogs are Randy Grim's passion. Whether caged in shelters or
running wild on the street, the dogs consume most of his waking hours.
At night, he says, he often can't sleep because "their faces haunt
me." They're afraid almost all the time, Mr. Grim says. "And when I
look at them, I see me."
Grim, founder of St. Louis-based Stray Rescue, is a most unlikely
crusader. "I'd actually rather be a recluse," he cracks.
A self-described "poster boy for panic disorder." Grim is made anxious
by new faces, public spaces, elevators, and driving. He worries about
germs on doorknobs and is subject to panic attacks in crowded stores.
But when it comes to dogs, fear has no sway. Grim cruises regularly
through the kind of urban blight armed police officers prefer to
avoid. When necessary, he tosses harsh words at street toughs. And
several times daily, he kneels among packs of stray street dogs - dogs
with gunshot wounds, dogs missing limbs, dogs bleeding from open
wounds. He offers them bits of hot dogs, cubes of cheese, and - to any
who will allow it - gentle caresses of love.
By 1998, Grim was working full time for Stray Rescue, his own
nonprofit organization and shelter. Insisting he has no organizational
skills, Grim says, "I have no idea how I did it."
But despite his plea of incapacity he now heads up a network of two
no-kill shelters, 200 volunteers, and five employees. He appears on
TV, has been the subject of a book - "The Man Who Talks to Dogs" by
Melinda Roth - and has written one of his own, "Miracle Dog."
Much of this has been excruciating, he says, for a man who detests
hearing himself praised and who mostly yearns for a place to hide.
But, he reminds himself, public exposure and the support it has
brought have been key to his ability to rescue more than 5,000 stray
dogs since 1991.
Grim is often asked why he dedicates his life to dogs when so many
people suffer as well. His friends also fret that he has so little
outside life (apart from a recent foray into ballroom dancing).
But he can't entirely explain the directions his life has taken. "I
had an abusive father and a very loving mother," he says. The
combination, he believes, uniquely equipped him to understand both the
terror a stray dog lives with and the warmth that can reach it.
Sometimes, he says, all he can offer a dog is a loving gesture -
perhaps the only kindness it will ever know. This ability to even
momentarily relieve suffering with love, says Grim, buoys him in ways
he cannot explain.
"I don't want this to sound weird, because I'm not really a religious
person," he says, "but I pray a lot. And I just believe that this is
my special job, the thing I was put here to do."
full story: http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0306/p20s01-lihc.html