I wasn't really looking to adopt a new dog. But the search to adopt the perfect cat for my 18-year-old daughter had weakened my resistance and before I knew it I was reading the rescue boards again, this time looking for a dog.
Perhaps it was the loss of our 16-year-old Silky Terrier or perhaps it was the fact that my last and youngest child was moving out to her first apartment. Perhaps it was a middle age crisis or the realization that the title Senior Citizen was looming closer. Whatever the reason, the more I read the more tragedy I found and those old feelings that I had when I worked in the shelter came flooding back. So many needing homes, not enough to go around. What could I do to help? Surely we had room for one more. After all, how much room could one small dog take?
I found a story of a woman who rescued 11 Chihuahuas from a puppy mill. Having 3 chi's myself, the story hit home hard. The mill breeder could not place them with the brokers because of various reasons and had threatened to sell them to a less than desirable reputable mill, if you can imagine that. I speculated lab specimens or bait dogs, a horror story repeated throughout the United States.
The rescuer couldn't stand the thought of such a painful demise and 11 little dogs of various ages came to Second Chance Chihuahua.
By the time I came across Charlie and Second Chance Chihuahua, she had developed severe health issues and needed heart surgery. She had one week to place all 11 dogs.
My pulse raced. I was in Texas, she was in Missouri. This wouldn't be easy, maybe not even possible. As irrational as it may seem, I sent her a note. Adult home, professional pet sitter with American Red Cross certification in pet CPR and First Aid, spoiled and adorned pets, vet references, 3 well cared for Chis in residence. Will promise to love honor and cherish for the rest of their natural life. If approved for adoption, pick a dog for me, I will take one.
Days and numerous emails later the decision was made that Biscuit, a shy 5-month-old white chi pup, would enter our lives.
Transport was still an issue. Notes went out on the rescue boards for transport assistance and we made a connection only to have it fall through 24 hours later. Time was getting short; the clock was ticking.
We tried enlisting various pet sitters to form a relay but couldn't connect all the links within the needed time frame.
There was only one thing to do. I asked Charlie if she'd be willing to get in her car and drive south while I drove north and we would meet in the middle. I would rearrange my schedule and have my daughter cover my jobs for me that day. Charlie said she'd be easy to find and the arrangements were made. It was an early morning that I set out, coffee, carrier and cell phone in hand.
There is a different kind of delight in adopting a dog with a less than desirable background. Their wide-eyed wonder and gratitude for the smallest show of affection and love is beyond your wildest dreams. Biscuit, now Oliver after the little orphaned boy, continues to fill our day with amazement like a child discovering the world for the first time, which is actually what he is doing. An indoor home, carpet, steps, a dog bed, my bed, my couch, a dog bone, a toy, people reaching out to hold him; all firsts.
The once mute and tentative Oliver has blossomed. Never two steps from my side, he sleeps up against me at night and occasionally reaches over and gives me a lick before tucking his head back in the crook of my arm. He has been fully accepted by our four footed family members and is truly one of the pack. They gather around him and kiss his eyes; they run and tumble and wrestle while I sit and watch and laugh.
So exactly how much room can one small dog take? Just enough to fill up your entire heart.
- Kindly contributed by Teri Hurley, owner of King of the Castle Pet Sitting
*** There are dogs like Biscuit and Oliver in shelters all over the world, literally dying for a home. If you find yourself in the position of being able to provide a forever loving home for a new pet, please contact your area shelters and rescue organizations or check online at www.petfinder.org.