01 July 2008

Goldieversary, Year 6

In 2002, I was volunteering at the L.A. County Animal Shelter in Agoura Hills. For a county shelter, this one is amazing. A group of dedicated volunteers kick ass there.

They work hard to make sure most of the animals who come in leave with new families instead of being carted lifeless out the back door after a visit to the "Blue Juice Room."

I was exercising dogs - the volunteers tried to make sure all dogs went out at least twice a day. First on my list was a big yellow dog who got to go out before all the other dogs because she was so well housebroken that she would rather hold her urine for 12 hours than to pee in her cage.

When I went in to get her, she began wagging so furiously that she wagged the end of her tail off. I looked down and her sides were painted with red stripes where the tip of her tail had bloodied her sides. I was freaked out but she seemed perfectly happy, though - it was walk time!

After a trip to the onsite vet to get her tail taped, we went out to the exercise yard. Unlike other dogs, she didn't want to play with the toys. She wanted to sit next to me and let me pet her while she leaned against me, soaking in the affection.

"What a great dog!" I thought.

For the next nine weeks, I came back again and again, each time exercising her and each time thinking, "What a great dog! Someone should adopt her."

But she wasn't showy - not spotted or tri-colored or purebred or any of the other things that catch the eye.

She was also 6 years old, which is a hard age to adopt. 80 percent of people want puppies and the sappy, sentimental 10 percent take the hard luck cases - old, decrepit, smelly dogs with three legs or dogs who are blind. The healthy, middle-aged dogs tend to get overlooked.

I went home after volunteering that Friday and spent all weekend thinking about that yellow dog sitting there for 9 weeks in that concrete cage. She was so sweet, so sensitive, so loving that the thought of her sleeping in that noisy, hard, cold place just killed me.

Also, Fourth of July was coming up and the shelter was stuffed full. I knew that so many animals run away because of fireworks noise that sometimes shelters "clean out" unadoptable animals in advance of the holiday to make room for the inevitable runaways.

Even though I didn't really want a big dog, I knew what I had to do.

First thing on Monday morning, I was at the shelter. I handed over $32 and got the best gift of my life, my Goldie.

When I went to get her from the cage, the volunteer on duty started crying.

"Oh, thank you, I was so afraid..." she said.

"Me, too," I replied.

Goldie turned and did something she rarely does: she stood up and put her feet on the volunteer's shoulders. I think she wanted to say goodbye.

She hopped right up on the front seat in my car and came home with me and we have been together ever since. She makes me smile every day, makes me exercise every day, and gives my parents something to look forward to (she spends work days with them).

If I think about it any more, I will start crying, so I will just leave you one of my favorite photos of her relaxing:
Dogs get tired

33 comments:

Kizz said...

Stop making me cry! I'm at work! And my boss is here today. Yeesh!

Lucky damn dog. And pretty too.

jonniker said...

I do believe that dogs are evidence that God exists. Isn't that silly? But I do.

I say this as a certain small one is all curled up on my foot, which is asleep thanks to her weight.

Mayberry said...

Our dog was at a shelter for a month before we got her (8 years ago; she was about 2 at the time) and she is the best. I can't believe how many people must have passed her by (but I'm so glad they did).

thailandchani said...

What a wonderful story! And she's beautiful!

Lawyerish said...

Great, great story. Goldie is a beauty, and I'm so glad you found each other.

Dogs rule.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Happy Anniversary to you and Goldie!!

Nine weeks is a long time to spend in a kennel. she really must be a fantastic dog to keep her good spirits.

Now, about that flexi-leash you keep using...

;)

Becki said...

Thanks for reminding me why, when I get my kids a dog next year, she'll be coming from a shelter and not a breeder or a pet store.

meno said...

You made me cry. Thank you for saving that beautiful dog.

QT said...

You showed remarkable restraint that you only ended up with one dog - she is a gooder. My next one is coming from the shelter.

Average Jane said...

What a great story! It's wonderful that you found each other that way.

daysgoby said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

super des said...

I love that story!
Midnight wagged his tail off too. I wasn't in the picture yet, but when the fam came home and saw the blood all over the house, they were pretty sure someone got murdered. But there was the puppy, happy as a clam. Or as a black lab puppy anyway.

Sujaco said...

I don't know how I found your website but here I am reading (and crying) about this lovely story of you and your dear Goldie. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Adrienne said...

OMG I didn't want to cry today! It looks like you both got a new best friend.

Count Mockula said...

That's beautiful.

mar said...

i just teared up...
i am officially my mother.

Mom101 said...

Oh man, so not expecting to get all weepy. Stupid awesome dog of yours.

Pork With Bones said...

What a lovely tribute to the lovely animal with whom you share such a beautiful relationship.

g said...

Oh, that is so wonderful!!

My first dog was a shelter puppy, and he was my soulmate for 16 years until he died.

My second dog was picked out by my husband and son, and he was already a year old. even though I loved my first dog, my second dog was a truly wonderful being. He was the embodiment of love.

Now we have our funny Mr.Lumpy, who we took in out of kindness.

They are all good dogs. They really enrich our lives. How nice you found such a beautiful doggie-soul.

Staci Schoff said...

Oh that's so sweet and she looks precious -- I'm wondering, though, if you are part of the plot the universe seems to be conspiring to get me to adopt a dog! If you are, please stop it! ;-)

Project Christopher said...

Thanks for causing me to cry like a baby over a dog story... again! :)

Funny thing was the entire time I'm reading the build up story, I'm saying in my mind "Don't you dare... Don't you dare..." because I could just see this story taking a turn for the worst and you didn't make it in time. WHEW! I'm so glad you did take her though. She's a beauty!

lizgwiz said...

Beautiful! I'm so glad the two of you found each other.

I can't imagine ever "buying" a dog when so many fabulous ones are biding their times in shelters and foster homes. I have to bite my tongue really hard every time people I know insist on a pedigreed puppy. Sigh.

gael said...

Oh great, First iambossy has to write a touching birthday note to HER dog and now, thanks to you, my keyboard is all blurry again. (Yes, I still look at my keyboard, leave me alone!)

What is it about these beings that wrap their little paws so tightly around our hearts? Lucky Goldie, happy you. Thank you for the sweetness.

Nancy said...

Happy Goldieversary and big hugs to you and your sweet woofus.

Andrea said...

I love happy endings! Goldie is a beautiful dog. And this is a great post about a great friend.

Lucy said...

Oh My Dog she is absolutely gorgeous. Aren't dogs just the absolute best? And you rescued her! Those are the best dogs - sensitive and mixed-breed intelligent. My pooch leans against me, too, and he has helped me through so much. He was a shelter dog, too.

Oh My Dog she is gorgeous.

MsLittlePea said...

Oh dogs! Love them. Happy Goldiversary! You're both lucky to have found each other.

one smarmy mama said...

*cries*

mothergoosemouse said...

What a wonderful story and what a beautiful dog she is. I'm so glad you have each other.

Jaelithe said...

That's a great story!

I have never understood why people prefer puppies so strongly. Sure, puppies are amazingly acute. But they also chew on everything, pee in the house, pull on the leash and bark like miniature maniacs at the postperson until you teach them not to do all of those things, which takes a good deal of effort and time.

And adult dog who has been properly trained is often the best choice for a busy family. I wish more people understood that fact.

Jaelithe said...

Uh, amazingly cute, not amazingly acute. Heh.

Elaine said...

That story is so damn awesome and you are so awesome for opening your life to Goldie! Reading this made my day. I am so happy I stumbled onto your blog.

Schmutzie said...

I know I've said this before, but I love her, and I've never met her in person. You got me all choked up :)

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