Monday, November 26, 2007
All That Really Matters
I'll never know the particulars of how it happened.
In my imagination, it's always a youngish woman who dropped her off at the shelter. But it could have been a man or even a couple. And they might not have been young. And I don't know if they were white or black or Hispanic. I guess it really doesn't matter. I always imagine that they weren't very well to do. After all, I always think it's the less-educated, lower-income people who don't get their pets fixed in the first place and allow them to breed. Maybe some don't know any better. Or they just can't afford it. Or they're careless.
All I know is that the person who brought her to Chicago Animal Care and Control told the employee on duty behind the wide beige official-looking desk that their dog, a collie mix, had had puppies. "Midnight," as she came to be known at the shelter, was the only one that they couldn't find a home for and, so, at seven weeks, they took her from her mother and brought her there to be rid of her.
Whether they just sat her on the seat of the car, bundled her in an old towel or put her in a cardboard box for the car trip to the shelter I don't know. It must have been cold outside though, because it was January. I can imagine that she cried being taken from her mother and the only people she'd ever known out into that cold world.
I'm jealous if I'm truly honest. Jealous that I never saw her when she was really tiny. Jealous that mine weren't some of the first hands to hold her and pet her soft, fluffy black and white fur like I do now every morning when I wake up and she's lying on the bed cuddled up next to me.
I think of the people who owned her mother as cruel. Taking a little puppy from its mother so early and leaving her to an unknown fate in that chilly, concrete place. Only the month before her arrival, the Chicago shelter had had a rampant outbreak of distemper and every dog in the place had to be put to sleep. But that didn't stop them from leaving her there all the same.
I blame them in a way for making her so shy, so fearful. But these people who I judge so harshly, and I'm also sure unfairly, unknowingly gave me the best gift ever. Because it was at that same shelter two weeks later when I first saw that little dog and, like the proverbial thunderbolt out of the blue, I knew she had to be mine.
It really was love at first site. And I didn't even go there to get a dog. I was just there for work. But once I saw her and then held her for the first time, I knew I couldn't be parted from her.
It took me several days to work on Craze. To convince him that we should get this dog he'd never even seen. That we did, in fact, need a dog in the first place. But finally he gave into my relentless nagging. He wasn't happy about it, but I think he'd have done anything at that point just to shut me up.
And the next day when I called the shelter, "Midnight" was still there. Still homeless. Just a little ten-week-old collie mix all alone in the world. And I told them I'd be there that night to get her.
Now, almost three years later, I'm so thankful to those "cruel," faceless people who brought her to the shelter. Today all thirty-five pounds of the Bug, as I call her now, sits near my feet gnawing on a rawhide as I type this. She is still black and white and fluffy and so, so beautiful. And while she is fearful of most people she does not know, she is the kind of dog that seems to smile most of the time.
People stop us all the time and ask what kind of dog she is and we can never answer. All we know for sure is that she is ours and we are hers. And as far as her story goes, that is all that really matters.