It's such a familiar saying now. Elite celebrities are reminding us to choose a shelter dog, rather than buy. I agree. I once rescued a poor little momma poodle that was past her best years, but the breeder continued to breed her, and she lived her life with a groupf of ten or so female dogs in a pen with a too small covered shelter in the back. I talked the lady out of her , but it cost me $100.00.
In this case, I was not buying the dog. I was paying the woman to release her to me. Funny thing, she was planning to surrender her to a pound anyway. I was afraid that since the little poodle (Mussette) was registered that yet another person would use her to whelp more puppies. My heart broke for little Musstte. I am so glad that I was able to let her live out her last years as an adored pet! Our family loved her so!
But that was then. This was now,2003. I was an empty nester, divorced with one grown daughter living with me at home. We certainly didn't need a dog on our new carpet. I did not want a dog again. Period. Let someone else rescue them.
As least I didn't know I wanted a dog. Maybe, deep down in my dog loving heart,I did. At any rate, my heart softened one summer day in 2003 to the point that I HAD to have a certain dog. A skinny little black dog healing from the worse case of mange I had ever seen. The dog catcher had picked the little dog up after complaints that she had been a stray for months, and her mange was going to kill her. The outcome of a dog picked up and taken to a pound is grim, but the residents were hoping someone would adopt her.
Strays and a Grim Outcome
In our state less than half of the pound dogs are adopted.Many shelters can only keep the dogs a stipulated amount of time, and then they are "humanely" euthanized. No one wants them. Yet the newspaper's classified continue to be peppered with adds for kennel dogs some costing outrageous amounts of money. It is big business. Sadly,stray dogs are picked up and put down by the thousands. Hopefully more awareness of the pitiful plight of theses helpless animals will change theses statistics.
Wonders......in this case the little stray was a very lucky little dog! Instead of putting her down, the facility decided that she was such a good dog that if her mange was cured, she would make a wonderful pet. This alone was unusual, and the fact that the local vet agreed to take her as a boarder while her treatment was ongoing was another amazing incident in the little dog's favor.
NO Dog For Me!
Enter me. I came to my vet for other purposes, and mentioned that I was on my way to a particular large pet shop to buy a guinea pig for my daughter. It was strongly suggested to me that I might want a small dog,instead.Well,no. In fact I came in for a bird the vet was going to give me. At the last minute, she discovered that she could not part with the bird after all. So I mentioned "plan B", a guinea pig. Not, by any stretch of the imagination ,did I want a dog. I had new carpet, and for a change, I would not have to worry about shedding hair and dog urine tainting it!
I was (again) practically being begged to take a look at "Little Bit", a 7 pound doxie chihuahua mix. At first I begged off, but when told that she would be euthanized in three days simply because no one wanted her, I agreed to go back and visit her for a few minutes. Cowering in the back corner of the newspaper clad cage, she shivered and would not make eye contact. Her pointy ears were laid back close to her bald little neck. Sores and bald mange spots covered most of her body, and her tail had no hair at all. What patchy hair that was left was a dull black.She had a cherry eye, and she smelled like she had never had a bath. There was nothing about her to make me want her, and I didn't. Most of the dogs I have ever been priveleged to own and love had been poodles and shi zus(sorry...everytime I spell it correctly..it gliches on publishing) that didn't shed very much. I knew she would shed...black hairs...everywhere.
I declined the vet's offer (or plea) of this little dog. I had no plans for a dog, and she and I just didn't click. I admitted (to myself only) that she was just plain ugly, and I wasn't wanting an ugly dog. Have you ever seen a cherry eye on a dog? Not pretty.......Well, I went on to the pet shop, and bought the guinea pig. Ugly ,smelly, and a huge chore to keep the cage clean,yet somehow I convinced my self that this new kind of pet was the most practical for my empty nester and smaller home.
Things Change(Okay, So I'm A Softie!)
Did you know that a black dog is the least adopted color of dog in pet shelters? Some say they appear more aggressive. Some say their shedded hair shows more prominently on furniture and bedding. Still others say that a black dog is just not as attractive as another color. They add that those big adorable eyes seem to be more noticeable when blinking sweetly from a lighter colored dog.
Yet it was these big frightened eyes on that black dog's mangy face that haunted me that night as I slept. I kept dreaming about the shot that would end her little life after months of being a stray, sores running from mange,people yelling at her...maybe even kicking her. I sat up near tears. Come morning, I knew what I had to do.
I made a quick trip for supplies,leash , and a pet taxi . I headed to the vet's to get the dog, telling myself I could find her a good home if it didn't work out.(Who was I kidding?) In the car, my daughter and I renamed her. She was a sweetie, so we named her Sweetie Pie. We would call her Sweetie.
Home? Is This MY Home?
When we arrived home, I allowed her to explore the yard while still leashed. She darted here and there,and sniffed every bush , every flower, and even the steps. After a few minutes, we went inside, and I let her see me fill her water bowl. I poured the recommended dog food into the other bowl, and called Sweetie invitingly. Sweetie trembled, huddling near the kitchen door, and didn't go to the water. I sat down and kept my eyes down,pretending to look at a magazine .
My daughter went to her room,and I let poor little Sweetie absorb the fact that after the months of being a stray , and after twenty-seven days in a crate ,she was free to explore. The vet's assistant told me that she seemed to be housebroken, and that her crate was not soiled during the day. Only when having to hold it all night , she sometimes had an accident. I braced myself for the submissive urination, but she didn't ...whew!
After about ten minutes, Sweetie walked hesitatingly to her bowls and sniffed.She nervously drank a few sips of water, looking back at me. I sat on the couch and called her in a quiet voice. She turned, and after seeming to weigh it over in her mind, she approached. I patted the couch beside me ,and asked to her to sit with me. She made a few steps toward me, but then turned and ran back to sit near her bowls.She was such a sad sight. She had no idea what to make of it all.
I continued over the next few minutes to talk softly.Finally , she started toward me, almost crouching as she walked. She stopped and looked beyond the bowls as if she was looking at something far away.There was a look of deep sadness on her face and then she trembled.She turned to me and walked, quicker now, as I patted the place beside me couch again. With a leap, she was beside me. I petted her on her head ,and said ,"Good girl!"
At the words"good girl", she appeared to freeze, staring at me strangely, almost as if she wanted to ask me something. (Ah...if dogs could talk!) I wish I could find the right words to describe the next few minutes. She jumped off of the couch and ran around and around in happy circles. She stopped ,jumped up in my lap ,licked my face, and then she was off running in happy circles again!Finally, after a few laps of cool water from HER bowl, she settled her little chin on my knee, and sighed deeply. We were in love.
Why Consider a Shelter Dog?
I can tell you that it is a wonderful feeling to know that you were able to save a helpless animal's life, and that most of shelter dogs and cats make wonderful pets. Sweetie was housebroken, and understood commands such as "wait","no," and "down." No puppy pads needed, which was a relief.Sweetie is our joy. I can't imagine life without her! Shelter dogs come in all sizes and breeds. You can even find purebreeds at the pound. For a minimal adoption fee,which usually includes a free coupon for spaying or neutering, you can bring home your dream pet!