It finally happened! Three and a half long years after our beloved therapy dog, Charlie, died of colon cancer, we finally found another perfect dog for our household. It was a long and frustrating process filled with many disappointments. Once or twice a month, we completed five-to-10-page applications for various rescue groups around town and received no replies. Phone calls to answering machines yielded no results. Several groups inspected our home for dog doors, fence heights, etc. And although the groups declared our property more than suitable for any dog, we still had no responses to our inquiries. And even though we walk every day for health reasons, one rescue group told us that as retirees we were too old to adopt one of their young dogs.
Imagine our joy when we walked right into our municipal animal shelter and easily found our new dog, a 15-pound Shih Tzu-mix we named Morley. Well, maybe it wasn’t quite so easy. My husband had stopped by earlier in the week as he’d done on a regular basis for nearly three years. On this particular day when the shelter happened to be closed to the public, a sympathetic employee checked her database and found that, yes indeed, there was a Shih Tzu (our breed of choice) in their care. He was microchipped, and the shelter contacted the owners. If unclaimed after five days, he would become available for adoption.
Yesterday was the fifth day. We arrived only hours after Morley had been neutered. Although still half asleep, he was, nevertheless, very affectionate. His big brown eyes made contact with ours immediately. It was love at first sight. Much to our delight, they said if we wanted him, we could take him home that day. The fee would be $112. Compared to the prices charged by local rescue groups ($400-650) he was truly a bargain. That fee included his neutering, all shots, flea control, and a certificate for a free veterinary exam at any animal clinic in town.
So, here I am, writing my column with my new dog by my side. I’m droopy-eyed from lack of sleep. Poor little Morley whimpered and cried at bedtime until I dragged his kennel to a spot where he could see me. Even then it took hours for him to settle down enough to go to sleep. It’s not that I won’t welcome him onto my bed, but the plastic cone that prevents him from licking his surgical wound would have knocked into me all night. I’m soft-hearted, but there’s a limit.
The head and neck pain that I’ve been dealing with for the past several weeks is still there. It ached and throbbed throughout the recent lengthy adoption process. But somehow it’s become less important. This little dog that someone abandoned for unknown reasons needs me now. And I need to be needed; to have something more important in my life than my pain. In the days to come, after Morley becomes accustomed to us and his new home, he will be taught each of the skills necessary to pass the Pet Partners qualification test to become a certified therapy dog. During that process and beyond, he will be most therapeutic for me. It’s a win-win situation.
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