She was no longer useful and no longer valued…not that we imagine she was ever really valued. Her owner no longer had use for her…she was older, had been roughly ridden into chronic lameness, and had cancer. We might add that behaviorally she demonstrated signs of repeated abuse…but most of them do. We rescued her literally moments from being euthanized. Her owner had turned her loose on a busy street to fend for herself…or not. She had been at Animal Control for ten days, no one claimed her, no one inquired about her…and it was pretty obvious that no one was going to. We can give credit to Parker for saving her, as we had just picked him up when the email alert came in, and as luck would have it, we were only 5 miles away…and made it in the nick of time. We named her Tess. Brianna was the first to fall in love with her…and slowly Tess learned to love back. She spent the first year learning to relax her instinct to flee, the second year learning what the word “unconditional” means, and that she doesn’t owe us anything. Her third year was spent settling into what is truly a well-deserved life of gentle retirement. Today, if the sun is up, Tess is out. She adores sun bathing, grazing in the slow feeder, and dozing in the benevolence of the unconditional. Tess has also gracefully – and with a fair amount of opinion – learned to say “no” to returning to her cozy stall before she is good and ready. As far as the Red Riding Hoods are concerned…she is the boss of us…and that is A-OK, and unconditional means just that.