We had arrived for our appointment a few minutes early. The two little dogs cuddled in my arms had been brought to my sanctuary badly in need of dental care. So here we sat, patiently waiting for our name to be called.
I saw her pull into the parking lot through the front window. I watched as she parked her car right next to mine. She came through the door clinging tightly to the handle of a small pet carrier. At the desk, she plunked it down on the floor at her feet, seemingly to have no regard for the precious cargo inside. She matter-of-factly informed the technician that he was here to be euthanized. She explained that he was the last of a litter of six. You see, at 5 months old, he was well past that cute puppy stage and had little chance of being sold. So to make room for her new litters that were due – he had to go.
My pulse quickened and my face turned 6 shades of red. It took all that I could muster to hold my tongue (or worse, if I had done what I really had in mind).
The technician glanced at me, knowing full well that I was fuming. She gave me a knowing nod as she took the pup to the back room. The woman wrote a check, picked up her now empty pet carrier, not batting an eye, and showing no signs of remorse, off she drove.
Her car was barely out of sight as I scooted to the back room. I approached him slowly. He eyed me suspiciously, cowering on a blanket in the far corner of a stainless steel kennel. He was a scruffy little guy with long hair, weighing about 12 pounds, I’d guess. He appeared to be a Maltese cross – cute as a bug’s ear.
I knelt down in front of his kennel, telling him that everything was going to be OK. He hunkered back, obviously not understanding what kindness was all about. I scooped him up, holding him gently but firmly. He stiffened but didn’t offer to bite. I then transferred him into a roomy pet carrier in my van. When my appointment was over, off we drove to start our new life together – his name would be Benjamin.
Introducing him to my existing clan would be a bit of a challenge as he was not a well-socialized little fellow. But gee, this wasn’t my first rodeo, now was it? Been there, done that! First order of business when we arrived at the farm was the usual routine for new arrivals:
Ears checked: check
Teeth evaluated: check
Appointment to be neutered: check
Now Benjamin was ready to start his life on the farm.
His room included a couch, blanket, fresh food, water and plenty of toys. A doggie gate allowed him to get to know all of his new pals at his own pace. But, in the beginning, it was not all peaches and cream. Many times as I entered his room calling his name, he would back away. He would advise me to keep my distance – and I did. It would take time to gain his trust.
A few weeks after his arrival, as I entered and spoke his name, his head jerked up as if to say “That’s ME! I’m Benjamin!” He took that first step toward me and it was all over but the shootin’. Now many months later, Benjamin can’t get enough of me. He sails through the air to sit on my lap, planting kisses all over my face. His nose bumps my ankle as I walk and occasionally he tugs at my pant leg for attention. To say the least, he has come out of his shell.
As I do my daily chores, I can see him watching me from each window of the house, his nose pressed against the glass. With a toss of his head he laughs and tells his pals “There she is – there she is…she’s my best friend, you know.” And they all quickly reply, “Yes, Benjamin, we do know, you see, she’s OUR best friend, too.” There is no doubt in my mind that the memories of once being unwanted have faded and have been replaced by the abundance of love that Benjamin now receives.
Benjamin’s story has a happy ending, but many pups across the United States are not as lucky. Due to gross over-population, many end up in animal shelters or worse. Please do not encourage back yard breeders by purchasing their “designer” pups. Always purchase from a reputable breeder or far better yet – Please – Please – adopt!