Monday, May 17, 2010
I should have known better. There's a reason I don't go to the shelter regularly to assess potential dogs for the foster program of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County. It saddens me to see all the animals that end up there--usually through no fault of their own--knowing that many won't make it out. Plus, given the dog-aggressive tendencies of our dog Tango (which means the establishment of complex schedules when there's a foster dog in the house), I'm trying to limit our fostering role. So avoiding the biggest source of temptation seems only prudent.
But a few weeks ago, I threw caution to the wind and volunteered to help choose some dogs for our program. Following a case of Parvo, a serious and highly contagious canine disease, the shelter had instituted containment measures that included limiting the number of dogs any visitor could have contact with to one. More volunteers on site meant more dogs we could evaluate "up close and personal."
Which was all well and good...in theory, at least. Armed with a list of dogs whose time at the shelter was running out, we found several that were good matches for our available foster homes. But...while there, a 6-month-old brindled puppy caught my eye. To be honest, she was hard to miss. She wiggled and wriggled and play-bowed as I paused in front of her kennel, determined to interact with me.
Although I couldn't touch her (I'd already handled my one dog), I knew she was special. Convinced that other shelter visitors would be as captivated as I was, I was certain she'd be adopted quickly. Therefore, I reasoned, there was no harm--at least in theory--in asking shelter staff to let us know if anything happened to jeopardize her future.
But fate has a way of reminding us that nothing in life is certain, and last week the SPCA/HS adoption coordinator received a call that the puppy's application had fallen through and that her holding time at the shelter was running out. Would we take her into our foster program?
Well, it's bad enough to know intellectually that nameless and faceless dogs and cats die in shelters across the country on a regular basis. But it's absolutely unbearable to know that the life of an animal you interacted with, spoke sweet nothings to, and expressed interest in might be snuffed out. I just couldn't let that happen.
So the sweet brindled puppy is now a guest in our home, where she will stay until the right "forever" family turns up. Given her four white feet, I named her Ghillie--the word for Irish dance shoes worn by women in shows such as Riverdance. My husband had suggested Boots, but even though I grew up with a dog with that name, somehow--in an era of dogs named Abby, Sandy, Phoebe, and Jocelyn--that just seemed too pedestrian for a canine of Ghillie's distinctive looks. So Ghillie she is.
And once again, I'm shuttling dogs from inside to outside and one room to another so that Tango's and Ghillie's paths don't intersect. And I'm feeding in shifts (with Ceiligh eating either with Tango or Ghillie). And my life is a bit more complicated, but also greatly enriched. And not just in theory.