Tag Archives: memories

Shelter Stories

When I got married, my mother congratulated me: “Now you’ll have a spouse to get you out of any situation.  ‘Sorry, I can’t view your vacation photos, Vicar — the wife needs me at home.’  ‘Can’t make it to your dog’s birthday party, Helen — the husband needs me to run some errands.'”

It turns out that having a spouse is a wonderful excuse everywhere.

I: “My wife just went to jail.  This is her dog — I just don’t have time for it.”  The Lhasa Apso and her four three-week-old puppies arrive in the footwell of a large and expensive pickup truck, driven by a man who cannot spell “Lhasa Apso”.  A gap-toothed three-year-old grins innocently as a worker fishes the puzzled, tense dog and her brood out of the truck.  Driver and son don’t even follow the dog indoors, filling out the paperwork from the cab of the truck and driving swiftly off.

II: “I don’t know — she told me to bring it in, so I did.”  The miniature Schnauzer is six months old, freshly groomed, terrified, and self defensive.  “Dad” carries him under one arm like a football, shrugging one shoulder, gesturing with the dog.  A shelter worker cautiously drops a slip lead over the growling dog’s head, makes careful friends, and carries him away.  In the cage, wearing his expensive collar and tags, he will continue to growl, with huge, wide eyes.  Dad doesn’t see this.  He fills out the paperwork and walks away.  He tosses “Poor puppy,” into the air, a parting gift as he strolls out the door, getting on with his day.

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Shelter Stories III

“He’s a Boxer, chocolate, with white spots, about this big, and wearing a red harness,” the man says, gesturing with his hands.  “Haven’t seen him since Wednesday.”

The shelter worker sympathizes, but there are no dogs fitting that description here.  “Where did he get lost?” she asks, starting to fill out a “lost dog” report.

“Well, every day I keep him out on a chain, and when I get home in the evening I let him off, and he just has the run of the neighborhood, you know?  He always comes back.  Everybody knows him.  So anyway, on Wednesday I get home, and I let him off, and off he goes as usual, right?  Except this time he didn’t come back.  And he didn’t come back Thursday, and he didn’t come back Friday.  I just don’t know what could have happened.”

“How old is he?” asks the worker.

“About a year.”

Shelter Stories II

“It’s time to give her up for adoption,” says Mom.  The dog is a smiling, amazingly obese Basset, drooping, bemused, her tail gently wagging.

“She just doesn’t like my grandchild.  She’s snapped at him a few times.  And he just wants to hug her and love on her — we just can’t take the chance that something will happen.”  Mom finds tears in her eyes, fishes for a tissue.  “We have two other dogs — they’re fine.  It’s just her.  She’s just not good with small kids — he’s two.  And he’s staying with us now, there’s nothing we can do.

“She’s my baby — but he’s my baby.  I don’t want to give her up…”

Wag, wag, wag.  The dog’s nails are long and untrimmed, and she is wider than she is tall, but she is smiling, smiling.  Dad hands the leash to a shelter volunteer.  Out the door they go, one last glance back, and as the departing car goes past the front door the dog pushes her face against the glass, puzzled.

A mother with two small children and another imminent comes in, reluctantly giving up a kitten for which she simply has no time.  The kids, aged around four and five, spot the recently surrendered dog and come wiggling over.  They sit in front of her, pelt her face with their hands, giggle and squeal, marvel at her shortness and wideness.  The volunteer holding the dog’s leash keeps a wary eye on her face, watching for the slightest sign of tension, the merest inclination to snap.

Wag, wag, wag.

The dog stands patiently, gives and accepts kisses, and her smiling expression never changes, although her eyes stray to the door.