Friday, July 10, 2009

Welcome Dori

I have a dog.

There was a dog in my house before and I know she respects me, gets excited about whatever I'm doing and all that. Maggie is clearly her Daddy's girl.

Maggie is a Rat Terrier, about 7 1/2 years old now. She spends most of her days in a kennel and sleeps at night in our room, usually on the LoveSac we got her Daddy last year when his back was so bad ~ she thinks it's her giant dog bed and, OH, so comfy. She has a schedule, too. She sleeps till I get up in the morning, between 6:30 and 7, comes downstairs and Daddy takes her outside the front door. When I come down, about 7:30, I feed her a little breakfast, a heaping teaspoon of moist dog food on a paper plate, then we go for a walk, a little over than an hour. She gets a treat, then sleeps most of the day, except to great various customers in the office, a few are especially favorite, occasionally a visit with the FedEx guy who brings her treats. At 4 o'clock, Maggie reminds us she gets a turkey dog. After the office is closed at 5, she sometimes goes with Daddy to the bank to make the deposit or stays home to watch me putter around and make dinner. After dinner at about 6 when go for a walk around the facility, then back in for more naptime, until the last trip outside then to bed for the night.

As a dog, it was a quiet existence. She did not run into others of her kind often, so, she really did not have anybody to speak dog to.

We wanted to get her a companion and have looked around for a few months. I have been watching a couple of different shelter websites, Daddy's been looking at but not real actively as there is now a 'rehoming fee' of a few hundred dollars with every dog now. We weren't being picky, did not need a dog for it's breed but more for it's temperment. It couldn't be a puppy, but not an old dog either. Something very similar in size, mature to Maggie.

Back in March, I'd heard about some dogs being rescued and brought to the shelter. I remember that I felt bad hearing about how the dogs were roaming almost wild, no human contact, competing for food, no medical care. I don't know what the circumstances were that the owner had that going on, but I felt bad for the dogs. From what I know of dogs, which I admit is very little, they crave human interaction. They need a human to greet and get food and compliments from, to walk and play with.

I had looked at Dori's profile on the shelter website and showed it to my husband. Her eyes were too sad, he thought, so, I dropped it. I was sure that someone would got to meet her in person would love her and take her home. Sooner or later, because at this particular shelter they don't have a policy of putting animals down that haven't been adopted after a certain time.

Three months later, I'm still seeing her picture on the shelter website.

Last week, I made him look again, suggested my husband think about this dog and what it's been through. Now that she'd been at the shelter for so long, she probably thought of the shelter as her home, what that must be like in her head. I called and talked with one of the people there who probably had walked her only once or twice the whole time she'd been there.

We drove an hour on Tuesday to get to the shelter to actually see her, my husband went in, but, they were so busy he only got to visit her a few minutes. I was out front on the grass with Maggie, we didn't get to meet her at all.

We went back again last night, hoping with the extended hours we would all three get a little time with her. We didn't think we'd get to look her eye to eye, or that the two dogs would instantly roll around on the ground like littermates. The thing that was important to us was how the two dogs saw each other.

They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They touched noses for a brief instant, sniffed behinds (that's how dogs greet each other, by the way) and when we walked the garden path behind the shelter, they walked side-by-side. No hackles, no vocalization of any kind like growling, barking or whinning.

They seemed instantly companionable, not best friends like in the movies. Dori has been in an unstable environment for a long time. Trust is her big issue right now. She doesn't trust Maggie or me. She is wary of my husband, but I think that may be because the owner before the shelter was a man. She and I ran around outside for a few minutes last night. At the gate when we were done running around, she touched me with her nose. When we went to bed, I laid on the floor of the bedroom, extended my hand and kept my head turned away. She touched my palm a couple of times with the tip of her nose. She laid on the floor in the corner all night, but I don't know if she slept because every time I lifted my head her head came up too.

We found a pet crate on craigslist this morning, so my husband went to get it and a collar and leash first thing. While he was gone, the behavior person we didn't meet with last night called to ask questions. She has walked Dori, morning and night since she arrived at the shelter. She's worked with her quite a bit to build trust and when I told her about the touching my palm thing, she said she had just gotten her to that point recently.

It will be a very long time, but we hope that with us she will become a dog, that the two of them together will calm Maggie and give her more activity in her life, someone to walk with and talk to, to look for.

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