The animal shelter story

I had thought moving to California would end my JonBenet-obsessed sleepless nights.

It didn’t work. I would fall asleep, but every noise sent me running into the kids’ rooms.

I decided we needed a dog. I decided a dog would have saved JonBenet.

My husband was skeptical. “You hate dogs,” he reminded me with that voice he uses on the children.

I explained that if we could get a dog that doesn’t beg, jump on people, sniff crotches, lick or smell like a dog I would be fine.

He explained that what I wanted was a cat.

I did some research on breeds, (and by ‘I,’ I mean ‘the newsroom’s research librarian.’) It turned out a husky was a good breed for me.

I found a litter in the classifieds and merged onto the freeway. I was getting excited about a little puppy I could hold in my hand, with fuzz on his ears and a fat belly.

About 10 minutes into my drive I had a thought. I should have peeked at the animal shelter first. Back to town I went.

The person behind the desk lit up. They got a husky puppy in yesterday. Let’s go see.

She led me past a row of little concrete cells with bad dogs in them, barking at me and jumping up on the bars. At the end I could see a darling little fuzzy dog sitting politely, looking longingly. I didn’t want it.

This dog, in sitting position, was almost to my thighs. I had already had the vision of my new dog squirming in my hand.

I was embarrassed to reject her recommendation out of hand, so I thought I would pat its head and say ‘good pup’ and go. She said, “I’ll take him out so you can spend some time with him in the playyard.”

I wanted to say, ‘You don’t need to open the kennel.’

She fumbled with the keys at the playyard gate. I stood behind her waiting for this to be over so I could go get my hand puppy. The big puppy was sitting calmly next to me.

He scooted closer to my leg subtly, like he was sneaking it. Then he leaned his body until his shoulder and head were against my knee. I was softening.

Then, without lifting his head, he looked up at me. The only things he moved were his eyebrows and my cold heart.

“You don’t need to open the gate,” I finally said, but not for the same reason I’d wanted to at the start.

They must have pegged me as dog-ignorant right off the bat, because he’s not a husky. He’s an Akita mix.

But he doesn’t jump, lick, beg, sniff crotches or smell like a dog.

I like him better than my cat.

Link to photos

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6 Responses to “The animal shelter story”

  1. The trip to the emergency room story « Stories O’ Mine Says:

    […] One afternoon we bought a steam cleaner. That year we had adopted a puppy. […]

  2. Even in pain, I’m a smartass « Stories O’ Mine Says:

    […] we got to the playground, the older girl, who was maybe 4, wanted to take my bigger dog’s leash. This is an Akita-husky mix. He’s smart and gentle, but large and strong. He’s […]

  3. Some people have nothing but answers « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] I said, ‘I spent the silliest time this morning trying to clean the shower curtain.’ My long-haired and very large dog has to be always lying near me, which means at the beginning and end of every day he’s curled […]

  4. The trip to the emergency room story « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] One afternoon we bought a steam cleaner. That year we had adopted a puppy. […]

  5. Even in pain, I’m a smartass « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] we got to the playground, the older girl, who was maybe 4, wanted to take my bigger dog’s leash. This is an Akita-husky mix. He’s smart and gentle, but large and strong. He’s […]

  6. sirensong131 Says:

    Oh man, that’s one of your best ones ever.

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