Monday, December 11, 2006

Her Dogness

I have enjoyed the companionship of dogs all of my life. There have been times when I felt that my only friends were of the four-legged persuasion. I had been without a dog in my life for more than eight years when we adopted Lani, although it is probably closer to the truth of the situation to say that she adopted us. Our agreement with her is that we buy her kibble, toys and treats and take her to the vet when she needs it and in return, she makes us laugh. She keeps up her end of the bargain and then some.

We had been working through the local golden retriever rescue group and had become frustrated with the bureaucracy they had developed and the time it was taking to go through their process. I finally came to realize that we had given power over something very meaningful to us to someone who did not really know us at all. At this point, I began looking at other sources for our dog.

I first spotted Lani on the local shelter’s website. She was described as a golden retriever mix. She certainly is that. We think that there is some Shepard or border collie in her ancestry. Anyway, I went to the shelter specifically to see her. She walked up to the front of her kennel, tilted her head to the left and looked at me as if to say “It’s about time you came to spring me outta this joint.” (She has climbed up on the couch beside me and appears to be looking over my shoulder to be sure I tell this story correctly.) We went to the shelter every day for a week to spend time with her and get to know her better before bringing her home. The shelter has a policy that dogs have to be neutered or spayed before they leave. On the day her surgery was to be done, I got a call from the shelter staff. I was informed that Lani was sick and they couldn’t do the surgery. Then they asked if I still wanted her. Of course, I did. She only had kennel cough which is the equivalent of a human having a cold, or so we thought. It turned out that she also had a much more serious but easily treatable condition. She had just gotten over that when she injured her knee and had to have surgery on it. I am happy to report that she is now doing very well and is a happy, healthy girl. I am grateful to have her in my life.

As much as dogs add to our lives, they also bring new levels of responsibility. In addition to the kibble, toys, and vet visits, they need lots of time and lots of attention. I have been involved in a couple of situations the past couple of weeks involving dogs who were not getting enough of these or who had not gotten enough when they were very young. My daughter went to an adoption day at a pet store sponsored by different shelter in this area. They were about to close the operation down for the day and gave her a dog that she had shown some interest in without getting much information from her and without disclosing the fact that the dog had a history of aggression. She spent a lot of money and put a lot of effort into working with the dog. It escaped from its crate while she was at work and tore up the carpet in her bathroom. She bought another crate and then had to put locks down the corners so it could not get out. She took it to the vet who put it on anti-anxiety meds. It was aggressive to every one except her. Finally, it became apparent that she could not keep the dog. One worker at the shelter humiliated her to tears when she took it back. Only then did one of the other people there tell her about its history.

At the same time this was happening, I was asked to look after my neighbor’s dogs while they were away. I got to the house and there was no heat in it and one of the dogs was in a kennel that was way to small for her. I had to call the landlords to help with the situation. Luckily, our landlady is very into dogs and is active in several rescue groups. She was able to get a bigger crate and the heat got turned back on.

I have read staggering statistics on the number of domestic animals that are put to death in shelters across this country each day. I can’t help but feel that we as humans have some responsibility for it. We did not get Lani until we had a great place for her to live. We had her spayed as soon as her health allowed. We don’t leave her outside by herself for long periods of time or while we are not at home. We don’t expect her to behave like a child. We know that she is a dog and we honor her dogness. I wish the same for every dog on this planet.


seventh sister said...

Heartinsanfrancisco emailed me:

You and Lani are blessed to have each other.

I have been dog/wolfless for 8 years now, too. I hate
it. I play with other peoples' dogs at beaches and
parks, and marvel at the many people who see nothing
wrong in tying a dog up on the sidewalk while they
spend the evening in a bar or shopping.

I hope you have all seen the last of Lani's health problems.

My response:

Yes, we feel very blessed to have Princess Lani in our lives. And I hope she stays healthy.

We are doing obedience training with her and she is doing great at it.

Anonymous said...

Heart in San Francisco said...

I hope you and Stephen get trained soon.

Top cat said...

I've been trying to comment for 2 days but blogger won't let me comment on any beta blogger's blogs, some kind of bug I guess.
I found a workaround thanks to Dan.
You have to check other and fill out the info there.

thank you for sharing this story about Lani, it warmed my heart.
I'm happy you went to a shelter to save Lani, there are so many dogs/cats full of love just waiting for a chance.
There are so many and so few to save them, it can be overwhelming at times, my heart becomes heavy whenever I think about it.