I spent 2 weeks going to Conny’s every other day to give Finja her medicated bath. She was very wary of me, the bathtub, and the whole process, but we endured. When the 2 weeks were up, it was time to bring Finja home.
Homecoming was an exciting day – for me, not so much for Finja. I held my new little Boston in my arms as we drove the short distance to our home. She trembled like a leaf in a windstorm the whole way. The tighter I held her, the more she shook.
Welcome home. We’d put the other 3 dogs in another room to avoid Finja going on complete overload, but on overload she went anyway. She made a beeline for under the dining room table and except for going potty and eating, that’s where she stayed for 2 weeks, growling all the way.
How did it go with our other dogs? At Conny’s Finja was part of a pack of 5, so our meager 3 actually gave her some comfort. Let’s put it this way, when they were around, the growling ceased, and when they were off doing their thing, back under the table Finja went, growling every time one of us looked at her.
My dogs have been my salvation during this pandemic and I think I may be theirs as well. They are so dear and devoted, happy to sleep at my side, cuddle in my lap, catch an errant Frisbee, or happily stroll along with me on walks.
We’ve done a lot of strolling these weeks. I have my one, youngish Boston Terrier who is my main walking squeeze. She’s come a long way with that, having come to us from the terrors of a terrier Amish puppy mill in Ohio. She spent her first two weeks with us ensconced on the floor under the kitchen table growling from fear and confusion. It is now four years since then and though still skittish, she walks (mostly) with confidence at my side and has (mostly) emerged from under the kitchen table (sans growl).
Brinkley is my old man. He’s 14 – 15 in September, and he’s pretty gnarled now, takes a low dose of prednisone daily to keep pain at bay. He can’t see or hear, and we have to be oh so careful with him to keep him safe. Occasionally he gets “lost” in the backyard and can’t find his way to the door. I must then go out and rescue him. I adopted him from a breeder when he was 6 months old after he’d been returned by two previous buyers and he’s been my lover boy ever since.
Sasha is also on the downhill slide at 12. She has battled Cushings Disease for years, but she has done so with grace and dignity. She is the low dog on canine totem pole in our home. Still, every day at lunch she parks herself at my chair and looks at me with big, doleful eyes that beg for the daily ration of her beloved carrots. She always gets them. I adopted her through a rescue group from a family that just didn’t want her anymore.
Finally, there’s Rosie. Rosie was allegedly a Boston Terrier, but with her longish snout we knew there was something else going on with her. Curiosity compelled us to get a doggie-DNA kit, and voila! We were right. Our clearly non-pure (but adorable) Boston was ¾ her namesake and ¼ Cavalier King Charles!! Go figure. She is my man-friend’s favorite but she puts a little twinkle in my eye, too. She is also the wild one of the bunch and her mission in life is to place a Frisbee at your feet.
Tis the season and the antics at the shelter are in full
swing – and not by the animals!
One of the things this shelter does regularly is hold free
adoption days where it’s just that – you can get a dog or cat for free. Sounds
good? It is not. Granted, there are some honest, caring people who come
committed to adopt an animal and give it the love and care it needs. But there
are also those who lie and present a false picture of a huge, fenced-in yard,
no other pets in the house, and so on.
One of these events was held a month ago, and a shelter
favorite dog, Carlotta, was adopted by an older man who said all these things
about the wonderful life Carlotta would have with him. Initial conversations
after the adoption rang glaringly false About a week after he took her home, Carlotta
was back. Not only was she back, but so was another dog, adopted the same day
by his brother, only they never bothered to inform us of that fact. In fact, they
live together. The man was told that Carlotta was not to live with any other
dogs. When she arrived back at the shelter, we were told she fought with the
other dog. She was a mass of cuts and bite marks, and needed surgery to close
Another free event is happening this Saturday and I plan to
be on the other side of the county while it’s taking place.
I have recently taken on another volunteer job at the
shelter, and that is to follow up with adopters to see how things are going with
their new furbaby in the home. I recently exchanged texts with one gent who
adopted one of my all-time favorite pups. He had taken the dog to his vet only
to get a positive heartworm test. Heartbreak! This shelter has a “live-in” vet
and I am appalled that the dogs are not heartworm tested before they are
adopted out. I have also known of many dogs who have gone to homes with various
degrees of intestinal and respiratory illnesses.
Dealing with dogs, adoptions, and the shelter environment is
never going to be pretty. But by implementing some basic new strategies, and
eliminating things that have proven to provide pain and heartbreak, the whole
adoption process can be made significantly more successful.
I fell in love when I first saw her. She was old and ugly in
that way that is endearing. She looked at me through the bars of her kennel with
rheumy eyes that spoke of things I didn’t want to know. One ear stuck up
straight, the other flopped, giving her a lopsided look. Her old, gray face was
tired. She had served her previous master well with untold numbers of litters
now weighing down her tits so low they reached the ground. Her people got what
they wanted from her. She got nothing. I opened her kennel door and I spoke to
her – quietly – but I am sure she understood me.
Today I ran right to her kennel and she looked at me, wouldn’t
stop looking at me even though others stood before her kennel. After 2 weeks of
being confused, though well taken care of and loved by everyone in the shelter,
she was going to a foster home where she would be warm, cozy, and loved by a
family. Wonderful news for her. I started my shift whispering sweet somethings
in her ear and when my shift was done, she was gone. Her kennel still held the
blanket she cozied up on, and the toy some kind soul gave her, but her essence
was gone, and as ashamed as I am to admit it, I had to wipe away a few tears of
grief and loss. Please, family, give her the love she needs and deserves.
Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications