March 15th 2012 11:23 pm
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A wise man once said "When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight". We choose to remember the day you came into our lives, not the terrible day that you left...
A little no-kill, privately run shelter called TLC was a nice car ride away. When we arrived at the shelter, we were surprised at how small it was. Walking down the aisle of kennels, maybe 20 in all, we saw dog after dog after dog with some sort of challenge--a cast on a leg here, a cone around the head there... We got to the end and saw a smaller, trembling dog. She didn't come up to the cage door or greet us with a wagging tail--she tried to curl up in a corner and disappear. We shook our heads. We wanted a fun puppy to be a playmate for our 2 young sons. This trembling mass wasn't ANYTHING like that.
We got to the last kennel (next to the shaking dog) and pulled the chain to raise the outside run door. A massive head of a gorgeous Doberman belonging to the shelter owner filled the opening. Whoa! Down went the door! That wasn't a frisky puppy either.
We backed up to the little dog shaking in the corner. And asked the kennel attendant for information. She told us the pup was under a year, six to nine months maybe, still a puppy--a little terrier/whippet mixed female called Butkus relinquished by an elderly woman who couldn't keep up with a puppy.
We asked to take the pup down to the "get acquainted" room. The attendant tried to get the pup to walk, but she was shaking too much. Then the attendant grabbed the pup by the back legs and walked her down the kennel row as if she was participating in a wheel-barrow contest--NOT a good beginning!
This wasn't the friendly, fun-loving puppy we were looking for. But with 2 young boys begging to take ANYTHING home, we signed the papers and took a chance. Butkus sat like a queen in the back seat, one boy on either side. At home, still shaking, but silent, she took her bath like a champ. She silently observed everything going on around her, but would perk her ears up when something caught her attention, then lay them back down. By the end of the day, she was renamed Perky.
Well, turns out the well-meaning kennel attendant trying to get a dog a forever home told a not-too-smart-about-dogs couple what they wanted to hear. Later, our vet told us that Perky wasn't a six month old puppy--by the condition of her teeth she was around 4 YEARS old. By that time, it didn't matter. She was ours, and we were hers.
Perky would always remains a shaker, all the way up to her passing 15 years later. We called her the "spineless wonder" for her ability to worm her way up onto the couch next to someone--you didn't even know she was climbing up--suddenly looking down at your side you'd find her leaning up against you, ducking her head with a sheepish look on her face.
Perky was so very fast--a favorite game was a person clapping their hands at her while she ran laps around our large yard, turning so fast and so sharp that her side almost grazed the ground. But she was terrified of a toy we bought early on--a rubber, squeaky foot with red nail polish. She tried to crawl under the couch when we showed it to her. Was she remembering a real human foot with red nail polish coming her way in anger?
Perky was a wonderful, calm, happy dog. Quiet too (until Auntie Ella taught her to bark for a treat one Sunday afternoon). Not a pure-bred. Not a puppy. Not ANYTHING that we thought we were looking for that afternoon when we set out for the shelter. She was a great dog to teach us how to be responsible, knowledgeable dog owners. But by far, the biggest lesson Perky taught us was to take a chance. Take a chance on that trembling shelter dog hiding in the corner. Maybe she's just afraid of the Doberman next door...