Chris Shaughness

author, speaker, animal lover


A Shelter Dog Story

Dogs come and dogs go.  After all, they’re just dogs, right?  All alike.  Wait, not so fast!  No, they’re not all alike!  All of us dog lovers know that our dogs have individual personalities.  Who knows why we are attracted to certain dogs – their looks or a special look in their eye, or the way they act.  When you work around a lot of dogs, you love them all but every now and then one pulls you in more than others.  Recently, it was a no-name stray, medium-sized Husky Shepherd mix.  She smelled like doggy but that was easy to overlook because she was such a happy, friendly girl.  

I spent an entire day with her at a pet expo, sitting at a booth next to an animal shelter that had brought some of their homeless pets with them.  The moment I met her, I made it my job that day to sell her winning ways to any kind heart that stopped to meet her.  She never lied down for she may miss something or someone who was a potential new friend.  Anyone who walked by was a target for her friendliness.  Her floppy ears perked up and her Husky-like curled tail wagged excitedly.  She made her preference known for butt-scratching as she wiggled through unsuspecting people’s legs, leaving a trail of fur and dander on as many pants as she could find.

She adopted me for the day, resting her head in my lap and directing her deep brown eyes at my face in a pointed yet loving gaze of demanding anticipation.  “Pet me or else I won’t stop being cute,” she appeared to say.  I gave in readily.   My thank you was a big sloppy kiss.  

“Kiss!” I insisted in return, and it was her turn to comply with great ease – multiple times!  So much for my make-up.

 “You need a name,” I said.  I tried the stereotypical Husky names, Nanook or Maya, but they didn’t suit her.  She was too sweet for such strong names.  “Baby!” I called to her, realizing I had not stretched my imagination to its limits with that choice.  She didn’t answer me, of course, but I persisted.  

The day passed and I discovered that Baby knew some tricks.  As I showed her a treat, I asked her to sit and she complied readily.  Then as I held up another piece of sausage jerky, she smacked her right paw at me.  

“Okay, someone has trained you!  Paw!” I instructed, and once again she gleefully landed a fiver in my hand.  

“How about the other paw?” I asked.  Well, no.  “I’m right-pawed,” she seemed to reply, with dignity. 

I discovered she loved to play with a tennis ball, jumping high to catch it deftly in her mouth and daintily dropping it at my feet for another go.  This dog must have been loved at one time to have learned these maneuvers.  So what happened?  Why did she end up a stray at an animal shelter? 

At the end of the day, a staff member from the shelter led her off to the van to go back and wait for someone to adopt her.  Or so I thought.  As the staff member walked away, she said “This was her last chance at being adopted.  If no one here was interested in her, she’s on the list tomorrow.”  

“The list?”  I asked.  

“Yeah.  We have too many dogs at the shelter.  We think this girl’s about 7 or 8, and people don’t want a dog that old,” the staff member replied. 

As my tears fell on her white face, I gave Baby a kiss goodbye.  I had fallen in love so quickly and wished I could have taken her home.  But my budget and space didn’t allow it.  And there will always be another Baby to come along and steal my heart. 

P.S.  There’s a happy ending here.  Baby was fostered by someone who found out about her place on “the list.”  She found a great home soon after.  I love happy endings!


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