Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dumpster dogs

I came home from the pet store a bit disgruntled the other day. No, it wasn’t because of their service. I was able to buy our guinea pig food with no issues.

“She tried to adopt a one-eyed dog, and the lady wouldn’t let her,” my daughter explained in answer to my husband’s quizzical look.

The look that crossed his face went beyond quizzical at that point.


“It was an adult dog that suffered from glaucoma and had to have its eye removed,” I snapped, as if to say, “Duh?”

“So, it would be blind in a few years,” he observed. “And you were trying to adopt this dog? I didn’t know we needed another dog.”

“No, I wasn’t trying to adopt it. I was just petting it!” I said a bit too defensively.

I caught the kids exchanging glances.

“She wanted that dog,” my son said. “You should have seen how red her face got when the lady said she couldn’t have it.”

“She was a sweet dog. I was just asking questions about her. I only asked for the lady’s information to be polite, but then she asked if I kept our dog inside, and I said, ‘No, but he has a two-story dog house that used to be our kids’ playhouse.’ I told her he even had his own front porch,” I said. “She had already said she kept the poor dog in a crate all day.”

“The lady told her she would not let anyone adopt dogs who kept them outside. She said she wanted them to be a part of the family,” my son blurted.

At which time, I could feel my face growing hot again. I would defy anyone to say our dog is not part of the family. He is so much a part of the family that he seems to think he is actually human and not a giant 130-pound chocolate lab who resembles a bear.

I couldn’t imagine keeping him in a crate all day. The only time he goes in a crate is when we head to the lake, and he rides in one in the back of the truck. As soon as we start packing the truck, he gets excited knowing the journey will end with a dip in a lake and a chance to chase jet skies and ever elusive ducks. At the end of our trips, we open the crate door to allow him to wearily jump back in, exhausted and ready for the ride home.

I have never seen a problem with keeping dogs outside in nice fenced-in back yard, especially dogs who don’t have a home to begin with. I guess it was the way I was raised.

We lived down the street from the dump. This meant there was never a time in my life when we didn’t have dogs. Back then, people would simply drop off their unwanted animals, from puppies to – more often than not – dogs who’d reached old age. Spotted brown mutts who were too tired to be any fun anymore, dogs with half tails and half ears and fur that would cause most people to cringe -- these were the dogs I loved.
Only once did we find them. Someone had cruelly filled a trash bag with puppies. More often than that, the dogs found us.

I remember one day waking up to a thunder of noise. My sister and I rushed outside to see not one, not two, but four grown dogs running down the hill from the dump. They ended up in our yard, and we kept them all, as we did any other mutt who wandered our way.

We would pet them and water them and give them horrible names like, “Pinestraw,” “New dog,” and even one my dad branded, “Too many.”

They may have been rejects to one family, but they were ours. We loved them. I’m not normally one to be sentimental about animals. After our last puppy, the runt of the litter – a mix between a blue-tick hound mom and a dumpster dog that lived at the recreation department – got hit by a car, I vowed in my childish mind that I wouldn’t get attached to another animal.

I’ve kept a pretty good defense, but something about petting the brown one-eyed dog at the store made me want to take her home, open that crate door and make her part of our family. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think she would have minded.

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