I am at the local animal shelter holding this little shivering creature in my arms. He is looking up at me with the one eye that will open, the other crusted shut and swollen.
“I have to adopt this little dog,” I say to my husband. I had promised him earlier that we were only going to pet puppies, but my fingers were crossed so that promise didn’t really count.
“Let’s take some time to think about it. Out of all of the dogs here, this is the last one I would pick,” not being a fan of the lapdog or the sick dog, it is a justified response by him.
“Okay,” I say and gently return this weightless puppy to the huge kennel they have temporarily placed him in, terrifying for one so small. Dogs are more comfortable in cozy places, especially when they want a place to lick their wounds to recover or even die. My heart breaks having to turn and leave him, his little face pushed into the chain-link gate once again, a low whine begging me to reconsider.
My husband looks at me suspiciously; “Okay, then,” and we turn to leave. He instinctively knows that I don’t give up this easily. The next morning, my husband is going out of town on a business trip and I am counting on this for my plan to work.
“Do you want to go pet puppies?” I casually ask my daughter the next morning only moments after my husband vacates the house.
“Yes!” she exclaims without hesitation. So, we go, and we walk around inside the two buildings housing the dogs, a chorus of barks welcoming us every step along the way. It briefly enters my mind that my dog may not be there anymore, but I push that thought aside.
We are giving out a pet here and an ear scratch there and as we near the kennel (my ultimate target) I hold my breath then see that he is still there. (Yes!) “This is the little dog I saw yesterday,” feigning indifference. I want an honest response from her. We are looking for the right dog to take over as alpha since our beloved boxer mix passed away and I wonder if this little 10-pound critter will be up for the challenge. He will have to lead a pack of two quirky rescues, both over 60 pounds and unable to cope without a boss. They have spent most of their time crouched under my bed recently.
The name tag on his pen says Scruffy, an accurate description. “He is so cute,” my daughter says as she cracks the door to rub his face. I am hopeful. He is not cute now; but my daughter, like me, sees past his scruffiness, scabs, and cherry-eye to the dog he can be. I reach down and lift him out as his curled tail beats a frantic wag and hand him over. It is instant love, the little guy pressing his face into my daughter’s neck and snuffling.
“Let’s take him home,” we simultaneously say followed by “Pinch, poke. You owe me a coke,” a tradition when we say the same thing at the same time. I take this as a good sign.
We carry him out of the building housing roughly half of the homeless dogs, and up to the adoption desk located in another building. The process is easy since we are repeat customers, having adopted Buddy from them previously. We decide to stop by our vet on the way home to have him checked out and after a thorough exam and shots, we are sent on our way with antibiotics and congratulations on the new addition to our family.
“Scruffy” also leaves the clinic with his new forever name. While we are in the waiting area, a lady at the checkout counter mentions that she once had a dog named Fred that looked a little like our new dog. He was a miniature schnauzer. My daughter and I looking at Scruffy detect schnauzer-like features and also a little of something else. Pug? He had an under-bite and curled tail. Chihuahua? Bulging eyes. Yorkie? The right color schemes. Probably a combination of all, a designer dog gone horribly wrong...or brilliantly right in our opinions. Made just for our family.
My daughter and I say it at the exact same time…“Let’s name him Fred! Pinch, poke. You owe me a coke!” “Fred” it is. Now to break the news to my husband.
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by true events
(Click to read Part 4)