I’m starting to think that in my next career I want to work with animals; dogs in particular. A friend of mine, E, found a dog wandering her neighborhood up in Sylmar, CA, and, after trying diligently to find its owner, she tried keeping it herself, but her own dog wouldn’t allow it; so E had to give the dog to a shelter.
E posted some pictures on her Facebook page of the little dog, and that’s where I started to tear up. I’m hoping that someone adopts the little guy; the mere thought of him having to be put down caused me distress all morning. I know it was a very tough, tearful decision for E, and right now she has her daughter monitoring the situation at the shelter, to make sure she is notified before they euthanize the dog, just in case E wants to reclaim him and try another approach.
I told her to please keep me in the loop as well; I feel compelled to make the 4-hour drive up and bring the dog back home, then try and find a place for it here, but right now my hands are so full with my own brood.
So many animals in need of adoption, but this one seemed to hit home more than the others, especially after seeing the photos. I think it just reminds me of my own rescue pup, Griffin, and how he was in a similar situation 16 months ago.
Griffin — a Brussels Griffon-Schnauzer mix — and his sister were placed in a shelter approximately around February 2011. The very heart-broken owner couldn’t afford to keep them anymore. He had put so much time and training into the dogs, but he had a major lifestyle change that kept him from providing a good home for them.
Someone adopted the sister right away, so Griffin — already confused, sad and scared to be in a shelter in the first place — went into a funk and stayed cowering in the back of his cage. Potential adopters couldn’t take a look at him, as he would never come forward.
I’m not sure how long he was there, but the shelter didn’t have a “no kill” policy, so Griffin’s days were technically numbered. Someone at the shelter knew of a sort of “foster parent” for dogs, a man named Jesse, so Jesse came and took Griffin and brought him home.
According to Jesse, the little dog— who he nicknamed Monkey — not only came out of his shell, he exhibited such positive, social behavior (with people and other dogs), it was hard for Jesse to let go of him. In fact, Jesse’s partner, Michael, desperately wanted to keep Monkey, but they already had several dogs; plus to not try and find good homes for their “foster kids,” sort of went against the grain of what Jesse’s service provided.
Jesse sent an email, with photos attached to numerous people, one of whom was my sister-in-law, Bonnie. She sent the email to her brother, my husband Chuck, and he sent it to me, with his own message, besides the one sent by Jesse, “Poor little guy. Someone adopted his sister, and now he’s alone.”
Already having 4 dogs, I replied to Chuck with, “Please don’t send me things like this unless you are indeed thinking of helping this little guy.”
Chuck answered back, basically saying, “What’s one more mouth to feed?” Something about the photo and Monkey’s situation just tugged at my husband’s heartstrings.
Jesse had us come by his office the next day and meet the little dog. Monkey was odd-looking, with a rough, salt-n-pepper coat, long legs, and a Mohawk-type pompadour. We strolled along with Jesse as he took him for a brief walk around the block.
“How many people have responded?” I asked. “You’re the first ones,” was his reply. “If you want him, he is yours.”
I wasn’t sure what to think. Our dog family consisted of Miniature Schnauzers and Boston Terriers, the only breeds we had ever owned. Yes, they were purebreds, with documentation. To be honest we had never really entertained the thought of adopting a mixed breed, as we couldn’t be certain of its medical history, background, temperament, exact age, etc. Jesse verified that Monkey was around 2-2 ½ years old; he could tell by the dog’s teeth.
In spite of any reservations we had, there was something about Monkey that made us want to take a chance. We knew it might not work out; we already had one boy dog — a temperamental one at that — our Schnauzer Wrigley. Not a whispy little Schnauzer, either, Wrigley was a 27-pound tank.
“Is it okay to change his name?” we asked, not crazy over the name Monkey. “Oh, yeah,” Jesse advised. “It’s a good idea, in fact.”
Jesse handled the paperwork, we paid him $100, and then we were on our way with Griffin — a name I had coined from his “Griffon-ness.”
We brought Griffin home and set him down while we let the other dogs individually come downstairs to meet him. With Wrigley we were prepared for a pissing contest, and possible physical altercations, as he was our only boy for a while. His initial reaction to Griffin wasn’t good; much growling from both guys, which had us concerned that things might not work out.
There was much growling and barking from the other dogs as well, and at one point I did what you’re not supposed to do…picked up Griffin so he didn’t get attacked. It was my first instinct, and although it kept him safe for the moment, it was like pouring kerosene on the fire, where the other dogs were concerned. Now the pack really wanted a piece of the new guy.
We cordoned off the other dogs, then Chuck headed back to work. I, having taken the afternoon off, set to work on getting Griffin settled into his new environment. Now and then I would bring Maggie or Olive, the smaller, less intimidating ones out to interact with Griffin.
Griffin was truly receptive to the little girls, wagging his stubby tail, but I could tell he was still somewhat apprehensive. Maggie, our black Schnauzer girl, warmed up to Griffin the fastest, even developing a bit of a crush. Olive, our smaller Boston, was a bit of a brat at first, but lightened up as the afternoon progressed.
I led Griffin upstairs by himself, opened the balcony French doors in our bedroom, and let him wander out and explore the small, yet scenic space. It was warm outside, yet with a nice breeze, and Griffin immediately stretched out on the balcony and looked out over his new neighborhood. One thing he didn’t want was for me to close the French doors with him out there; I needed to leave them open. Considering his recent situation at the kennel, I totally got this.
By evening everybody had about 90% accepted Griffin as one of their own. Even Wrigley had relaxed more. I have a feeling that Griffin, at some point, had sidled up to him and made it clear, “I’m not here to steal your food or your bitches; I just really need a home and a family I can call my own.”
Later that evening I saw Griffin walk by Wrigley and give him a soft head-butt, a sort of “high-five,” or “hey, dude,” type of move that will forever be engrained in my memory. Wrigley knew this guy posed no threat, and was more of a compatriot than a competitor. I was extremely proud of Wrigley, and made sure I let him know it, by showering him with lots of praise and affection.
As for Trudy, my bigger Boston, (sigh) nothing was ever easy with “Gollum.” She has always been somewhat of a bully and a tyrant, albeit a comical one (picture Batman’s Joker character). Griffin learned right off the bat that she was one to be reckoned with, so he simply stayed out of her way in the beginning, just until he felt comfortable in her presence.
The first few weeks with Griffin not only turned me around on the whole rescue dog issue, but also turned me into somewhat of a crybaby. There was one point where I thought he had jumped over a partition and gotten out. I panicked,, and whirled around, only to find him sitting right there in front of me, looking up as if to say, “Where would I go, and even more so, why would I leave?” Welling up with tears of joy, I gathered him up in my arms and buried my face in his rough coat.
We have remained friends with Jesse and Michael, and have brought Griff to see Jesse at his office a few times. “I can’t believe this is the same dog! Look how happy…” Jesse exclaimed, during our first visit. He plopped right down on the floor in front of Griffin, who then crawled on his belly toward Jesse, emitting a low, joyful growl, as if to say, “Thank you for saving my life. I will always love you for that.”
All of our dogs — past and present — have been special and unique in their own way. But Griffin has by far been the best dog ever. His only entitlement issues are his twice-a-day walks; he will whine and complain if they aren’t given to him in a timely manner, and if you try to rush him he’ll give you the stink-eye. He sleeps with us, and is the only dog of ours that truly loves to snuggle. He is polite when it comes to food, and is very well housebroken.
He has become a mini-celebrity in our neighborhood; everyone loves “The Griff.” Such a good-natured sort, he has made numerous 2-legged and 4-legged friends.
He also picks his battles. Rarely does he bark at someone unless he truly feels they are a threat. He is extremely protective of his home, and considering the tough road he had to encounter to get here, he has every right. His bark seems to resonate, “My house! This is my house! That’s right, my house!”
Griffin’s cup basically runneth over; you can just tell by his demeanor and expressions that he is very appreciative of where he has landed. Jesse once told me, “Rescue dogs just get it.” And now, I finally get it.
So, getting back to the little dog that my friend E had briefly in her charge; I can only hope that the little guy winds up in a home where he is just as loved and appreciated as our Griffin; high hopes, I know, when the present odds aren’t looking so great, but I believe in miracles.
Regardless, some things happen for a reason, and this incident has reinforced why I think I would like to work with some sort of animal rescue. If I would be willing to drive a distance to save someone, even provide necessary foster care, I have to go with my gut.
They can’t all be saved, but at least I’ll know I tried. I have Griffin to thank for inspiring me. Thank you, sweet boy!
Thursday, July 5th – I just found out from E that one of her daughter’s friends is adopting the little dog today. Such great news! I hope he is as lucky and happy in his new home as my boy Griffin!