Confessions of a Chronic Dog Adopter
Creating Little Miracles
Lesson 2: There is a mutual "meant to be" moment.
When we went back to the Chihuahua center for our second rescue adventure, we met Linda, who'd been deemed "unadoptable" by the city shelter she'd come from.
After a year of behavior modification at the rescue center, that description couldn't have been less accurate. Quiet and terribly shy, Linda was a heat-seeking missile in search of a warm lap. We sat with her a while in a beat-up old swing, then decided to take a break.
Lori and I headed off to get some sodas, then turned around for another look. Sure enough, there was Linda, seriously staring us down. Where you going, ladies? She intimated with a quizzical look. Was I crazy or were we not seriously hitting it off back here? We decided to take her home right then and there.
Lesson 3: It all changes in the car.
Once that engine starts, animals know that things just got really good. Already right at home, Linda -- renamed Shelby -- commandeered Lori's lap and helped to steer the car home.
Our third rescue happened unexpectedly -- but then, aren't they all unexpected after dog number two? We were at a Hanukkah party and who else happened to be there but the gal who ran the Chihuahua rescue center. She had brought along this little black-and-gray Chihuahua.
Lori and I looked at each other from across the crowded room. Our eyes said: "We can't. We shouldn't."
But it was the first night of our Festival of Lights. (When in doubt about adopting a dog, check the calendar. A holiday makes a great permission slip.) So we came home with little Maccabee -- the brightest light in that year's menorah.
We decided to go hard-core for our next addition and so journeyed to a city shelter. It was an experience I wasn't quite prepared for: rows and rows of animals whose eyes it is nearly impossible to look into because you know what they don't -- that most will never get a second chance.
In the midst of this horror story I saw the coolest dude of cell block B -- Shagster. Even though he was in a cage with four crazy hyper dogs, this scruffy terrier was just lazily resting his head on crossed paws while letting out a big old yawn. The attitude just slayed me. Here he was in Treblinka, and he was just hangin', just chillin'. And I thought, if this dog could have this perspective here, I was definitely stressing about way too much stuff in my life.
Lesson 4: You'll gain important insight from your animal.
Lest you think we're absolutely wacky, I just want to state for the record that adoptees five and six weren't supposed to stay with us long. A local rescue group sent out an e-mail stating that two 15-year-old Chihuahuas had to get out of their shelter ASAP -- the next day was E-day (the E being "euthanasia"). Could someone foster them temporarily?
I started strategizing immediately about the pitch I'd give to Lori. And, of course, I ran to the calendar to see if mid-July had any major holidays.
Word came back straightaway: "No. Absolutely not."
"But it's just that -- "
"I don't care. We have quite enough dogs, thank you. Besides, I'm onto you. I've already checked the calendar -- and only the French celebrate Bastille Day, Carol!"
"But these dogs aren't to keep. We're just a way station for the next few days until they find a permanent home."
I knew I had her there.
So off we went to the North Central Animal Shelter. And I must say, watching that big red E euthanasia placard fall into the trash as we left the shelter was a pretty amazing feeling.
Way station? Yeah, right. Of course they never left.