Choosing The Right Dog For You
There are times I wonder if I really did the choosing when it came to the dogs who live with me. I bet you’ve had those moments too.
This time it was Beatrice. You may remember I mentioned her before. Shes the Beagle who found me (notice I didn’t say I found her?). I promised to tell you that story and this is as good a time as any.
Cara (shes the HaintOps and helps me with promoting Haint), her daughter Lily (the HaintGirl on our site and at personal appearances) and I were on the way to see Dougie Maclean in concert in Iowa City this past fall. We were going to stay at Cara’s folks house outside of Iowa City in Kalona. You’ll see in a minute why that’s important. Hannibal, Missouri is about half way between St. Louis and Kalona, so we decided to stop for lunch there. Cara had a restaurant she usually visited so we agreed that sounded like a plan.
We ate and when we came out Beatrice was sitting there waiting for us. When I say she was waiting for us that’s exactly what it felt like when I saw her sitting next to my car. We weren’t expecting her but she sure seemed to be expecting us! She walked over and looked up at me as if to say, What took you so long?
So what could I do? I picked her up and got lost in her large, golden eyes. Now, Ive seen a fair number of Beagle eyes and most are lovely but these were the first Beagle eyes that seemed to hold a sense of familiarity for me. Ive usually only seen that look in Weim eyes (with a few detours into hound eyes). She seemed to want to let me know she had been waiting for me a long time. But she HAD waited. She had no collar, no fleas and was very clean.
By now Lily is right in there with she-who-would-soon-be-named-Beatrice. Lily is a natural born dog handler. Shes only 6 but is virtually fearless around dogs yet has a strong sense of when not to approach a dog having a bad day (or life). Cara loves dogs but I could tell she didn’t want Lily too close for fear that the Beagle had fleas, ticks, mange or who knows what. Well Cara is Lily’s mom after all. I could understand her concern.
I put soon-to-be-Beatrice down and went back inside to ask about her. The restaurant staff said the Beagle had been hanging around for three days and nobody had fed or cared for her. She had stayed nevertheless. Uh huh, waiting for something or somebody. I went back outside.
At this point, I’m in a quandary. I have the strongest feeling I should pack her up and take her with us. The Beagle is still sitting by my car, Cara is watching her and Lily is belted into the backseat. We are going to be staying at Cara’s parents and her mom isn’t thrilled about having a dog, strange or otherwise, in her home. She has a cat. Were not going back to St. Louis because we’ve planned on this concert for months (I’m a total Dougie fan and he rarely got close enough in concert for us to attend). Its the end of the day in a rural area of Missouri and so the likelihood of finding a nearby no-kill shelter is pretty dim. And Lily has told us that the Beagles name is Beatrice. That’s it. No way back. We cant leave Beatrice so we put her in the backseat with Lily and hit the road towards Kalona.
Now Cara and I focus on trying to find a no-kill shelter in Iowa City. Cara’s driving and I’m calling Amy Pizano who owns Pets in the City in St. Louis. Her shop is also the center of a rescue group called Gateway Guardians. Amy was so great! She understood immediately when I explained the situation and threw in one other piece of information. Iowa City has a world-renowned medical school. Any Beagle left in a traditional shelter could easily be quickly bailed out and turned over to the research division. Amy got to work looking for no-kill rescue shelters.
About forty minutes later, Amy called us back with a number. I called them but, although I traded several calls back and forth, it just doesn’t work. We cant leave Beatrice with them. So the long and short of it is that Beatrice has to come back to St. Louis with us for spaying and adoption. And you can guess what happened after that. Yup, I was going to just foster her but, well, she seemed to fit soooo well with Star and Sol. And Annie adored her at first sight. How could I break them up?
Which brings me back to the other day. Star had outgrown her collar so I was transferring her collar to Beatrice (who had also been growing in her happy new life as everybody’s chief playmate). Star had her new collar on and I called Beatrice onto my lap to take her tags off her old collar. I unclipped her collar and she grabbed it in her mouth. She kept trying to put it back around her neck.
I got the tags off and put them on the larger collar. The whole time I was struggling with the tags, Beatrice sat on the floor next to the chair staring intently at me. When I finally started to slip the collar on her neck, Beatrice couldn’t wait to get it on, pushing her head up against the open collar as if to make it easier for me. When the collar clipped into place she relaxed, licked my hand and my nose. She was obviously happy to once again have a collar.
It was what she did then that brings this story back to where we started. She looked into my eyes and the thought ran through my mind that Beatrice didn’t wear that collar because I wanted her to; Beatrice wears it because SHE wants to wear it. And I go back to the question did Beatrice pick me? Maybe we aren’t really the ones in charge, the ones who choose. Maybe, sometimes, they pick us.