Did you know that Saturday, August 26th is National Dog Day?
What is National Dog Day, you might ask?
Well, according to the website of the same name:
“National Dog Day celebrates all breeds, pure and mixed and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, either from public shelters, rescues and pure breed rescues. National Dog Day honors family dogs and dogs that work selflessly to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Dogs put their lives on the line every day - for their law enforcement partner, for their blind companion, for the disabled, for our freedom and safety by detecting bombs and drugs and pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage.”
Yeah... I can personally vouch for that "pulling victims of tragedy from wreckage" thing.
My husband Tom and I have had three rescue dogs.
Marley was the first rescue pet. He pulled me from the "wreckage" of a disastrous prior marriage and enabled me to trust enough to fall in love again.
I found Marley at the Humane Society in Tampa, Florida in 2003. He was also known by others who came to love him as "Pooh," “Pooh-Head” or “Pooter” (no need to explain why he got the latter nick-name). He was just eight weeks old when I brought him home but he always had this uncanny sense of knowing precisely when I needed kisses and snuggles. He was even accepted by a therapy pet organization to visit nursing homes. Like I said, he seemed to always know when someone needed comfort so, much to the surprise of the group's trainers, Marley just seemed to know what he needed to do. The residents of the nursing home loved him and Marley knew where all of them had the cookies hidden. Other than loving people, Marley's favorite past-time was burying bones, cookies and chewy-things in the back yard.
When I met Tom, it was magical. But I had that "must love Marley" clause in the "where do we go from here" relationship agreement. And Tom did love Marley... even though he was horribly allergic to his particular type of fur... and Marley loved him back. It could not have been more perfect.
Millie was next. She became part of the family when some neighbors decided they just didn’t want her anymore. She was three years old. Her other names were “Miss Moo,” “Moo-Moo,” “Minnie-Moo” or “Princess Minnie-Moo.” She wasn't much on snuggling but she sure did love "loving you" with her eyes. She always had to be where she could see you, even if she had to keep getting up and following you to different rooms to do it. Her favorite past-time was digging up and claiming the bones, cookies and chewy-things Marley would bury in the back yard.
Marley crossed the Rainbow Bridge in September of 2016. Millie followed six months later.
The void they left in our world was so painful. Even the house itself felt hollow.
We missed having them greet us at the door when we’d come home. We missed the way they would scatter toys around the house and how they would do certain things a certain way. Like the way Marley would pick up a toy and sway his head back and forth real low in a figure-eight sort of pattern when he wanted you to play... and the way Millie would bounce on her front paws when she got excited about going for a walk. We even missed the doggy nose prints they’d leave on the sliding glass doors…
It took four months for me to have the courage to clean them off after they passed away.
It took about another six months before we decided we might be ready to find another fur baby. So, we planned to go by the three shelters in our area… just to see what was there.
Our first stop was the SPCA. Wow, there were a lot of dogs… They were all outside in very large fenced pens and they all came dashing to the fencing… barking and jumping… “Pick me,” “pick me…” Oh, God, it was so hard to see them. I wanted to take every one of them home. They all wanted so much to be loved. But I couldn’t choose. None of them “touched” me the way Marley and Millie had and I felt horrible about that. I started to cry. I just wanted to go home. I wasn't ready. It was too soon. I just wanted to go home.
I started walking toward the exit. Tom was still some distance away with the young kid who worked there. They were both looking into a pen I had passed about six times.
“What about this one?” Tom yelled to me.
“What one?” I yelled back. I thought that pen was empty because, unlike every pen at the entire shelter, no dog came dashing to the fence to bark when I walked by it.
As I begrudgingly walked toward the pen where Tom and the kid waited, I still didn’t see any dog. Even when I got there and scanned the 30 or so feet to the back of the pen, I didn’t see anything.
“He’s back there,” Tom said, pointing toward the left-hand corner in the farthest back point of the pen. “See his ears?”
It wasn’t until I stood right up against the fence and peered into the tall vegetation in that I was able to make out the shape of a dog… and it was a big dog.
“It’s a German Shepherd,” said the kid. “He got here two days ago."
“Can we see him?” Tom asked.
As we entered the pen, the dog cowered even tighter into the corner of fencing. He was absolutely terrified. When we got about half-way to him he turned his back to us and tried to curl into a little ball. It was like he wanted to disappear. Tom and the kid were calling to him but it was clear the dog just wanted them to go away.
I asked Tom and the kid to back away and they complied. Then I got down on the ground on all fours and lowered my head. It only took a few seconds for the dog to become curious.
It took about another ten minutes before the dog's curiosity got the better of his fear and he timidly came closer. He was sniffing the air, backing up and returning to his corner. I could see where he had turned over his food bowl. Uneaten kibbles were scattered everywhere. The kid said he hadn't eaten since he arrived.
I curled down close to the ground the way he had done. I wanted him to know I was afraid, too. Then he came even closer. He was close enough to smell my hair. I lifted my head slowly… He looked right into my eyes… and I smiled… and he licked my face… Then he ran back to his corner.
I stood up, dusted off my pants.
“He’s the one,” I said.
I was crying, of course.
“His name’s Marco,” the kid said.
We went back to the office and filled out the adoption papers. It was then that we found out more about him. He was from Macomb County Michigan. He was about 16 months and, much to our surprise, is a pure breed Sable Shepherd Dog registered with the American Kennel Club. His owner had dementia and, when the man could no longer be left to care for himself his family came and got him. They didn’t want the dog. So, when they moved the man to Florida they dropped the dog off at the shelter. That was two days before we arrived.
During the 24-hour required waiting period, Tom and I purchased, food, a leash and collar and toys (lots of toys). We were nervous. Had we done the right things? Would Marley and Millie understand?
As we drove the new fur baby home the next day, we tossed out dog names, trying to find one that “fit.”
“Cooper… Nash… Bandit?”
No, no, and heck no!
Well, it's been three months now and I can truly say it’s so wonderful to have Einstein as part of the family. While we knew we would never find anyone to replace Marley and Millie, it sure didn’t take Einstein very long to claim his very own place in our hearts. He loves to cuddle, loves chasing lizards in the back yard… and he loves his favorite toys… a hard plastic blue ball (with holes in it) with a smaller yellow plastic ball inside and a greenish "waggle" ball that makes weird noises when it rolls. He even has his own special "certain thing" he does with his favorite toys. He loves to play soccer. Yes, soccer.
We didn’t teach him how to play. He just started doing it one day. Seriously. It’s the most amazing thing. He gets the ball and comes over to you, looking up at you as his tail wags. That's your cue to get up and play. He waits for you to stand about 15 feet away and then he places the ball on the floor. He dribbles it a bit with his paws and then he looks up, teeing the ball up with his right paw and then BAM... he kicks it with his left. When you kick it back, he bends down, “traps” it between his front legs. Then he tees it up for another shot back toward you. It’s fun when you get a good volley going with him, just smacking it back and forth. And he’s fast… crazy almost scary fast!
Yes, Einstein is his own dog. But it is curious… how he does other “certain things a certain way…” Like picking up a toy and swaying his head back and forth real low in a figure-eight pattern when he wants you to play and bouncing on his front paws when he gets excited about going for a walk…
So... Do you have story about a special fur baby you'd like to share? Do you have a
If you don't have a pet, maybe you've been thinking about it... and maybe it's time to go to your local shelter. You never know. Maybe you're lonely and you just want some companionship, someone who will love you truly and unconditionally. Maybe you just want someone to spoil, someone who will appreciate all of the love you have to offer. Then again, maybe you're going through a tough time and need some loyal little fur-face to pull you from some "wreckage."
Come on... Saturday is National Dog Day. So, if you have been thinking about about adopting a dog, I strongly encourage you to take a drive to your local shelter, even if you have no idea what you're looking for.
Want to know a secret?
Ever see one of those car magnets that says, "Who Rescued Who?"
Sometimes, it's the dog who chooses you.