Image by Janeth Roque
Another typical day at BARC. Today was overcast, cloudy, and moody. Not too hot but not too cold. Kind of clammy. The crackerjack, all volunteer Photo Team whipped it into high gear, working with the dogs, assessing them, writing bios, and taking videos and images to market the hell out of them. As usual, the intake was hellish and no way was there enough room in the shelter to house them all. That is the life we lead. The epic battle we mistakenly think we are going to win. You see, our team all suffer from the same dilemma – we were all born without a “quit” gene. I know it seems a bit unusual and unbelievable but we all suffer from the same affliction. When we latch onto a dog we don’t let go. It’s not in our nature.
So, of course Charlie caught our eye that day. Don’t get me wrong, all of the dogs were outstanding and special in their own regard. But Charlie was mostly Boxer and you know just how silly they are and how they instantly steal your heart, no matter how hard you try to not let them. We’re not supposed to get attached, but we always do. This little dude was so silly and sweet. He had great manners and was as handsome as all get out. Unfortunately, once we had completed our tasks we had to put him back in his kennel. He dutifully obeyed and marched right back to his kennel with a big Boxer smile on his face and love in his heart. Eager to please. We moved on to work with the next forty or so dogs.
We finished up later and the team disbanded. Contrary to popular belief, we all do have lives outside of dog rescue, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
I decided to stay behind to do adoptions, joined by the Friends of BARC team who come in after us and spot us every weekend. I did several adoptions that afternoon and I was getting ready to take my leave. The things we do are very rewarding while at the same time exhausting.
However, an adorable family walked up and the mom had a kennel card in her hand. I put on my Used Dog Salesman of The Year hat and asked, “Would you guys be interested in meeting the best dog in the shelter?” Of course I say that to everyone walking in but it’s never a lie. I was already mentally envisioning these fine folks walking out the door with Charlie leading them on a leash to take care of this family and protect them for the rest of his life. It’s a thing – I just know which dogs should go with whom. Then the woman extended her hand and held out Charlie’s kennel card. She wanted to know if I knew Charlie and if I could help them. My exhaustion dissipated muy pronto. Who needs a stinking nap anyway? Sleep is highly overrated.
They inquired as to why I was smiling but I didn’t tell them that he was one of my favorites. Because I already knew he would be their favorite. I told them I sure did know him and told them how wonderful he was. They had a small child and asked if he was okay with kids. I told them he was a Boxer. Boxers love children, because they act like young children their entire lives – till they day they are called home. So, of course there would be a connection.
We brought Charlie out to a dog run and turned him loose. Right on cue he marched right over to the little girl and kissed her face. He planted himself right next to the family and didn’t budge. He forgot I was even there. I thought, “What am I? Chopped liver?” I have no idea what that even means but I hear people say it all of the time. And frankly, I was happy to be invisible, because that sealed Charlie’s fate. He had chosen well. So had they.
She handed me his card and said they had been closely watching him and waited patiently for him to become available. She said they got to the shelter an hour early just to make sure they were first in line to adopt him. She told me she was a planner and that he was in their family plan.
What she asked me next floored me and choked me up. I even got some dust in my eye and it began to water a little bit. Did I mention it was windy that day?
“What’s our competition like to adopt Charlie? How many people want him? Are we the first ones here for him? What do we need to do because we REALLY want him.” And Charlie wanted them. They were desperate to adopt Charlie. They were on a mission.
You’re probably asking yourself what made me so sad and emotional. How could this lovely lady ever know that as special as Charlie was, and all of our dogs are, that nobody was standing in line to adopt him. That there was no competition. That fine dogs like Charlie sit in kennels bored out of their minds all day long just waiting for a chance to please their humans. That because of over population of pets, the lack of spaying and neutering, and the lack of human morals (and sometimes good sense), that a lot of the dogs would never see the light of day. Just because of the sheer unmanageable numbers.
I could tell she was confused but thankfully she declined to inquire. And I turned my frown upside down. Because Charlie finally had humans of his own. And that’s all he ever truly wanted. More than life itself. So we were all happy as can be. She insisted that they quickly go adopt Charlie before all of the other people wanting him could do so. I made sure they knew I would streamline the process for them to make sure she jumped in front of the line to adopt Charlie. She even carefully watched me place the “adoption pending” card on the door of Charlie’s kennel. She was taking no chances. All of them were eternally grateful. And for once, instead of me profusely thanking them for adopting, just like I always do to adopters, they turned around and couldn’t quit thanking me. My heart was full.
I walked them through the adoption process and made it short and sweet for them – and Charlie, because he was ready to get started with the rest of his life, with his humans. He had waited long enough, far too long.
Just think how wonderful it would be if every person was so interested in adopting and saving a shelter dog. If there was a competition for every single wonderful dog waiting patiently for their humans to come claim them.
Here’s an original quote from my last book, Soul Heeler: “If man only had the character of the canine, lack of character would cease to exist.”
Think about that.