Last Thursday, Carey’s sister-in-law, Jenny, sent her an email about a dog that needed a home. Bless her pointy little head, Carey promptly forwarded the email to me. Let it be known, I was actually being a good do-bee for a change, sitting at my desk writing, when the email came in.
The subject line of Carey’s email clearly read: Needs a good home… I tried to ignore it. I kept writing. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I opened the message, looked at the pictures of the dog, and then closed the email. I tried writing again. Dang it! Seriously. Dang it! Within minutes, I had the email opened back up and was printing off the pictures. Forehead smack.
Please understand. I was not looking for a dog. I cannot emphasize that point enough. Tom and I had agreed that we weren’t getting one until we had the yard fenced. Even so, I emailed Jenny, requesting the woman’s contact information and any other details she could provide. All Jenny could tell me was that he was a stray, his name was Huckleberry, and he was thought to be about seven years old. Oh, and he had a bum wheel.
I called the woman, left a message that I’d like to have more information about the dog, and then carried my cell phone around with me like one of those couriers who’s handcuffed to a briefcase full of cash. Heaven forbid I’d miss the call! What was I doing? I didn’t even want a dog!
The woman didn’t call back until that evening while I was at book club. Normally, I wouldn’t let anything interfere with the focused, in-depth discussions (translation: drinking, gossiping, and general hee-hawing) we have at book club, but in this case I made an exception. I took the call. I took notes.
Turns out the woman, who lives on the other side of the city, is a foster mom for dogs from a local animal shelter. She was able to tell me that Huckleberry (a name bestowed on him by the staff at the shelter) had been neutered the previous week and had tested negative for heartworms. Also, she said, a vet had taken x-rays of his bum left leg and had determined that he did not have any broken bones. Good news, on one hand; however, no broken bones probably meant the limb had nerve damage. Apparently, the vets associated with the shelter discussed possible treatment options ranging from amputation to medication. Thankfully (in this particular instance), like most animal shelters, the shelter responsible for Huckleberry was strapped for cash, so they didn’t rush into a procedure like amputation. But I digress. On Thursday night, my biggest question was–in light of Huckleberry’s three-wheeledness (temporary or permanent, it made no difference)–can he do stairs? I asked because the only way out into our backyard is down a long flight of stairs off the deck or down a long flight of stairs to the basement. It’s a valid question. But why was I asking? I didn’t even want a dog. Yet. Sigh.
After the foster mom assured me she was…uhhh…confident that Huckleberry could…probably…do stairs…she thought…but then maybe she hadn’t actually seen him do stairs…I heard myself say, “So, when could we come meet him? Are you available tomorrow night?” Again, forehead smack.
Early the next evening, Tom and I made the trek across town to the foster mom’s mother’s house where Huckleberry was holding court. What a face. After general pleasantries during which he gave us the once-over, he proceeded to lie on my foot, making it known I was more than welcome to provide head-scratching, belly-rubs, and all-around general adulation. He wasn’t rude about it. Quite the contrary. He was most polite and well-behaved. He was also just so dang cute, I couldn’t deny him whatever he wanted. I was ready to take him home. But the foster mom had told me during our initial conversation that we’d have to complete all the adoption paperwork prior to taking him, so we hadn’t come prepared to do anything more than meet him. If we wanted him, the shelter would fax us the papers which we would then fill out and fax back. Once that was all taken care of, we could pick him up. We left that evening with the intent of adoption.
By the next morning, however, we were thinking with our heads instead of our hearts. Even though Huckleberry had managed to navigate the few steps at the foster mom’s mother’s home, he wasn’t terribly sure-footed. Standing at the top of our long flight of stairs, looking down, my stomach knotted at the thought of the poor little dog trying to get down without tumbling head over tail. Tom felt the same way. Early that afternoon, the adoption application arrived by fax. We stared at it. Then I called the foster mom and told her we just didn’t think putting Huckleberry in the position of having to manage all the stairs in our home was in his best interest. She said she was disappointed, but she understood. And I know she did. Still, I had mixed feelings. Even though I hadn’t been looking for a dog when I opened the email on Thursday afternoon, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Huckleberry belonged with us. But I also couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be incredibly selfish to torture that sweet little guy every time he needed a wee. Huge sigh.
Late Monday night, I opened my email box to find a note from the foster mom (clearly a pro at finding homes for her charges) with a video attached. A video of Huckleberry going down the stairs. Lots of stairs. I showed it to Tom. He chuckled and looked at me with that oh-for-crying-out-loud look he gets and said, “Go get him.”
Tuesday morning, I filled out the adoption application and made arrangements to drop it off at the shelter in person so I could pick up Huckleberry’s medical records and the x-ray of his leg. I called the foster mom and set up a time to pick him up. I called and made an appointment with our vet (whom I love dearly) for today, and then I ran over to Petsmart for the necessities. Huckleberry and I were home having dinner together by 6:30. Unfortunately, Tom had to go out of town this week, so he’s missing all the fun.
Huckleberry’s first night at our house went well, as did his appointment with our vet this morning. I’m happy to report he’s a healthy little guy, most likely a mix of Shepard and Shar Pei, who only needs more meat on his bones and lots of love. Unfortunately, our vet thinks the damage to Huckleberry’s leg is permanent. Not to worry, he’s managing the stairs and has already thoroughly explored the yard, including the bog at the very back which is currently full of water. He and Tom will get along famously. I refer you to an earlier post in which Tom has his own adventures in the bog. I’ll share Huckleberry’s adventures another day.
Carey and Brian have both been over to meet Huckleberry. With any luck, Austin and Otis will make it over to meet him soon. Otis and Huckleberry are clearly cut from the same bolt of cloth. You’d be hard pressed to find two more laid-back, mellow pups. They should get along famously.
The only concerns I have with the whole business are Huckleberry’s lack of interest in treats and his name. I’ve never met a dog with less interest in doggie treats (how in the world will I bribe him?). Even more important, I don’t think he looks like a Huckleberry. I think he looks like a Teddy. The kids like the name Huckleberry or Huck and give me the squonk eye when I call him Teddy. But Tom seems to like the name and says to call him whatever I want, so I will. Meet Teddy. He’s our new dog. I love him. You will, too.