RICHMOND – Rescue. It is a word that evokes the romanticism of adventure, the intoxication of success.
When it comes to adopting a dog, it’s all of the above plus the mystery, frustration, and the occasional feeling that it’s not going to work.
The adventure began almost immediately. A mile and a half from the Berkshire Humane Society, the little rascal slipped his collar off, slipped out of the safety net harness and appeared in the passenger seat, all grinning at the realization. You had to laugh.
Four Shelties preceded the new dog to this house. All from breeders in the area, they came with fancy sheets of paper showing they were descended from various male champions named MacDega and several with a parent named Delta Dawn or another popular song.
All were accompanied by descriptions of potential personalities and considerable confidence in their integration. They matched us, and as we relearn each time, we adapt to fit in with them.
An adopted dog rarely has a written pedigree and no guarantees. The owner may have grown too old to take care of him. May be dead. Either way, they have an indefinite mourning baggage, and like people, time is the only thing that works. Or, a rescue dog may have had a difficult life, somehow neglected, possibly abused, or even abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves.
The new resident here was not treated, was mistreated by another dog, and was taken out of the house by animal control. After determining that the new client was in fairly good health, just very thin, Berkshire Humane posted a photo on the company’s website.
I had spent several months browsing dogs at breeders and rescue sites across the country; among the things learned was that you can wait long enough for a dog with a pedigree, hundreds of dogs listed are partly pit bulls (sometimes described by their real name as Staffordshire terrier), most are quite large, and many have medical problems that involve a potentially significant financial and time commitment. Luckily, I saw my future dog shortly after his internet debut and called.
The representative of the Berkshire Humane Society asked me if I wanted to visit the next day. ” And this afternoon ? I said, knowing from experience that you might think you were about to have a dog, then it went to someone else.
The minute I saw this little dog, I knew he could move in. In the visitor’s room, he wandered around until the employee left, then jumped up on the couch and made himself as close to me as possible. Sold.
Sweet, home educated, sits when asked, eats as well as the queen, doesn’t take my knitting or any of my papers, shows no interest in licking the contents of the dishwasher, barks not passing cars or the school bus (the driver from Richmond slows down a bit as he passes us on the road – that’s nice).
Corn. There is always a but. He barks at people, until he is introduced. He barks at the dogs and refuses to be introduced. He’s a barking dog, who wakes up the neighborhood when he goes out early. And does not want to go to bed at night, chatting sometimes for almost an hour, not wanting the day to end.
It reminds me of the evenings when a toddler was transferred to a real bed and kept appearing on the stairs.
But, it also makes me laugh. After the time change, walking after dark, he suddenly saw the moon, stopped to look (has this owner ever taken it out?) And barked towards the shining orb. He heard geese (a huge flock) honking south, stopped to find them very high, and barked until their V disappeared.
I watched an oak leaf float, bark on it, then attack when it hit the asphalt. He looked alive, didn’t he? And every morning a happy shudder greets me as if the dog is thinking, “Oh, my God. I’m still here.”
Meanwhile, as he arrived with serious digestive issues (resolved), I was probably rated as Berkshire Humane’s Pest of the Month. But, with smiling voices, they never failed to answer questions, provide food and special pills if needed, give advice on how to make this otherwise charming creature meet and greet its fellows properly. .
Tomorrow is not early enough for me, but New Years could be a more realistic goal. And the quintessential dog trainer Léa Foran assured me that she is an intelligent dog who can learn.
“You won the lottery,” my friend said to my little dog. Maybe I did too.