December 25th 2012 12:10 am
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It had been a long and frustrating month as I searched for a dog of my own. I was new in town and I had tried to locate the local dog pound to no avail. I found plenty of pet stores filled to the brim with puppies, but not only do I not support puppy mills, I was looking for an adult medium sized dog. So, I continued my search.
After yet another disappointment, I was thinking about going to a local park in which stray dogs congregate to beg food from visitors and just choosing one of those dogs. Of course, I would be taking a chance with accidentally taking a dog someone owned that just happened to be there at the moment, or taking a dog with a history of aggression, or one with major health issues….but those would be the same chances I would take with a dog from the pound.
Then, one day, I was with my dad when we saw a place that might just be the pound! We stopped at a place that had kennel-like cages with large dogs in them. As we got out of the car, the sharp odor of urine mixed with poo and dirty dog hit us like a brick wall. It only took a few glances around to realize that we had not found the pound, but an Afghan Hound breeder kennel.
We were about to just turn around and leave when the owner of the place came out and encouraged us to stay and look around. We did only out of politeness; we did not intend to purchase an Afghan Hound. He asked us a few questions, and when he found out we had a large, well fenced in yard, he pointed to a large cage with a boisterous, young, beautiful, cream Afghan Hound in it and said, “free, free!” We stood there confused for a moment wondering why on earth he would want to give away one of his expensive, purebred dogs, what was the catch? Then, we saw her. The dog he was really pointing at.
She was a purebred Rough Collie and was simply sitting in the corner, trying her best to look invisible while the boisterous Afghan Hound bounced and barked around her. She had the saddest look in her eyes, just stared at the floor as she attempted to squeeze into the corner of the cage.
The breeder didn’t elaborate on her past, he simply told us that his friend didn’t want her anymore and had given her to him to either sell or give away. I don’t know how long she sat in that cage before we came along, but she was obviously in absolute misery and had resigned herself to her fate. I actually hesitated when they asked if I wanted her. My dad said it was my decision since she would be my dog. I didn’t think I was prepared for such a shut-down, scared dog. How would I gain her trust or train her? I was about to say no, thinking it would be impossible for me to help her overcome her fears, but then I looked at her again and just couldn’t, in good conscience, leave her there. Since the man offered to give her to us for free, I didn’t feel any qualms about taking her from a breeder.
The ride home was pure torture, for her and us. She smelled horrible so we put down the windows, which of course made a lot of noise in the car, which she obviously hated. Half an hour later, we were home. I had made the decision to simply let her off the leash and explore the yard on her own terms. I fully expected her to skulk around and find a place to hide where she felt safe. We were in for a very pleasant surprise! After I led her out of the car, I unhooked her leash and stepped back.
Her head was hanging low when I stepped back, but after a few seconds, she slowly raised her head and looked around, sniffing the air. She took one step, two, and then looked around with surprise evident on her face. She started walking faster and faster until she was flat out running! The look of pure joy was on her face as she ran in circles around us and around the house. It was mesmerizing watching her run in wide circles until she exhausted herself. That’s when I truly met my dog for the first time. She wasn’t that scared, shut-down, shadow of a dog in a shared cage any longer. She was exuberant, friendly, playful, and full of joy. She is Natasha, my friend, my confidant, my Beautiful Flower.