Greetings, readers. Do you know what today is? If you guessed my birthday, you’re close, but not quite. My People and I don’t actually know when my birthday is, so we celebrate a different anniversary—the day
I adopted my was adopted by my People. Today marks the four-year anniversary of my Adoption Day.
No doubt my People and I will be celebrating (maybe with a nice lamb shank) later. They will probably take a lot of pictures and tell me how wonderful I am and how I’ve enriched their lives. But here is their dirty little secret:
I’m not the dog they wanted.
Four years ago, my People decided they were ready to look for a dog who was willing to put up with them. They had met a lovely dog that summer who had come from Animal Haven Shelter, so they were spending a lot of free time looking at pictures of adoptable dogs on that shelter’s site, hoping to find their match.
One day, they saw a photo of a Pomeranian-Poodle mix named Mr. Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein hadn’t been at the shelter as long as I had, but he was getting a lot of interest. He was an almost inconceivably adorable little fellow, with big ears and soft, shaggy, white fur. My People made an appointment to meet Mr. Bernstein that very evening. On the way there, they discussed what new name they might give him if they were approved as adopters.
However, when they got to Animal Haven, they discovered that Mr. Bernstein was a very shy dog. Although he was young, he had already been through an ordeal, having been rescued from a puppy mill. As a result, the Animal Haven people wanted to find him a home with another dog who could help teach him how to live in the normal world. The Lady and the Guy were dogless, so they wistfully withdrew their application and wished Mr. Bernstein good luck in finding the right home.*
The Animal Haven staff then suggested that they glance through the other photos on the website. Frankly, my People weren’t expecting to find a dog they’d fall for that night; after all, they had already seen those same photos before. But to be polite, they looked anyways, and the Guy said they might as well meet me. He thought that I might be tolerable because I was described as a terrier mix, which he knew implied a fair amount of intelligence.
The Lady, however, wasn’t too keen on his selection. She thought I looked deranged.
Well, maybe She had a point.
Warning: Young children and those with sensitive stomachs might want to avert their eyes.
As you see, in my youth I had trouble sitting still for a photo, forcing the Animal Haven volunteer to seize my head and compress my ears just to get a clear shot. The result is a portrait that some humans think makes me look like a homely, pitiful wretch. (Others, however, think it expresses a haunting melancholy worthy of El Greco.) Despite this unfortunate picture, the Lady and the Guy agreed to have a brief meeting with me.
All this time, of course, I was upstairs in my crate in the shelter, preparing to tuck into bed for the evening. When the staff human came to escort me downstairs, I raced down and into the meeting area. Animal Haven had brought me to New York from Georgia, and I had been here a little while by then. My crate-mate, also from down South, had already left for his new home, and frankly, as kind as everyone was at the shelter, I was eager to find a more permanent situation.
The Guy and I sized each other up right away, and I began racing around the room. I believe the correct expression to describe my conduct is “shot out of a cannon.” The Lady, being by nature more circumspect, was still hesitating. I could see that I had to do more to convince Her. She was crouched down, not exactly seated and somewhat precariously balanced, but hey, a lap is a lap. Like Leo Messi, I have a low center of gravity and know how to use it to my advantage. I began my run-up from the other side of the room, building up speed as I came down the straightaway. From a foot and a half away, I leapt, rotated a half-turn in mid-air, and stuck a perfect landing right on Her not-quite-a-lap. Then I sat down and looked up at Her awestruck expression. We locked eyes. Clearly, a dog who could do that was a dog worth knowing. Mission accomplished.
The next day (four years ago today), my People got the call from the shelter that their application had been approved. They came to retrieve me that night and brought me to my new home. It wasn’t quite as palatial as I’d hoped, but it would do. As you can see from the photo above, I was a little overwhelmed that first night, and I’m afraid I left a rather unconventional hostess gift on the floor.
However, I soon settled in, and my People and I began to learn how to get along. Four years later, and I’m still training them in some of the finer points of human-canine interaction, but all in all, I think I made a fine choice. My People think so, too, even if they really came to the shelter that evening to see another, cuter dog. They and I are thankful to Animal Haven for bringing me to New York and for suggesting that they take a second look at those photos.
And Mr. Bernstein, wherever you are, thank you, too.
November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Although I was not a senior when I left the shelter, I was an adult, and there are several advantages to starting out with an older dog. If you are thinking about finding a dog to take care of you, here are a few lovely, mature ladies for your consideration: Fancy, Lucy and Pomegranate. I’m sure they would be delighted to find a permanent home before the snow arrives.
* Don’t worry: Mr. Bernstein had a number of interested applicants (many more than I had!) and was adopted shortly thereafter.