Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sands of Time and Circumstance

(Picture Left: "Bernie" (formerly, Brownie) the "Demon Dog." Ah, how pictures sometimes deceive!) ;)

I have frequently written of Carrie, our most reliable foster person and a bonified "dog whisperer" in her own right.

Over the years, Carrie has taken on many tough challenges. Distrustful Chows who take time to trust and love. Sensitive German Shepherds with issues of timidity and overprotection and at least a couple of very lovable, high energy Pitbulls.

Carrie has never complained about any dog or given up on one -- until this past year.

And that was with an adorable, 12 pound Tibetan Spaniel originally named, "Brownie."

I rescued Brownie from Animal Control, mostly because he looked very much like one of my own dogs, Tina.

I was quite sure Brownie would be an "easy foster" for Carrie. He was an older dog (about 9-years) who was from a home and was very friendly with me in the shelter, constantly licking my hand.

"I am sure you will only have this cutie a couple of weeks" I said to Carrie around October of last year. "He is a real sweetie!"

But, as noted many times on this blog, animal rescue and placement is often as unpredictable as the most fickle lover.

It turned out that I was as wrong about Brownie's "adoptability" as I had been about Willow's "unadoptability."

The little dog had major resource and food guarding issues as well as a penchant for attacking every visitor to Carrie's home.

Carrie attempted to work with Brownie through the food guarding and other issues, but when he bit one of her daughter's, Carrie's patience wore thin.

"The little bastard can bite me or my husband and even visitors to my home, but when it comes to my kids, I have to draw the line, Patty!" Carrie said one day shortly before leaving for a one week vacation before Thanksgiving. "I'll hold him until next week, but I can't take him back when we return from Hawaii."

I placed Brownie in boarding when Carrie and her family left for the trip. But, he didn't work out in the boarding facility either.

After only a few days, I received a call from the owner of the boarding establishment telling me I had to get Brownie out of there as he was attempting to bite every member of his staff.

"Nobody can handle him here and I can't put my employees at risk." Dale told me. "I'm sorry, but Brownie can't stay."

I was suddenly in a real mess with the "adorable little Tina-like dog" who I thought would be such a quick and easy adoption.

Brownie was no Tina!

But, as so often happens when I seem to be facing the dreaded "E" word (being forced to euthanize an animal because of a major behavioral issue and having no place to put him or her) a miracle seemed to suddenly come through for Brownie.

I received a call from a very enthusiastic and earnest woman eager to help a dog through foster.

"I was told you guys are always looking for people to foster dogs," Doreen told me. "I have a house in New Jersey, a dog and three cats and I am willing to help save a life."

"Really?" I asked, not quite believing I could suddenly be so lucky. "Well, we have this little dog named Brownie who we desperately need a foster for right now....."

I went on to explain to Doreen the entire story with Brownie right down to the fact he was being kicked out of the boarding facility and I had literally no place to send him other than back to Animal Control where he would surely be euthanized for having bitten a number of people.

"He can be really sweet and always has been with me," I told Doreen. "But, Brownie also has a dark side. One has to go carefully with him. He's a very needy dog who seems to need someone all to himself."

"Well, I am willing to help!" Doreen said. "I'm very experienced with dogs and to tell you the truth, my last dog who recently passed at 17 years could be a bit temperamental."

The next day Doreen drove in from Jersey and fortunately for me, Brownie was on his best behavior with her. Indeed, Brownie was very drawn to Doreen's passionate, quirky and high energy Italian temperament.

He immediately jumped in her car and sat comfortably on Doreen's lap as she started the car.

"Are you sure that's safe, him on your lap like that?" I asked with concern.

"Sure, it's fine! I'll let you know how its going after I get home!" Doreen chirped as she drove away, a happy, cheerful dog on her lap.

Over the next few weeks, Doreen updated me with several reports on Brownie (who she named "Bernie.")

Bernie had attacked Doreen's boyfriend, other dog, a couple of the cats and everyone who dared approach her car when Bernie was in her lap.

"But, other than those things, Bernie's been a real sweetheart!" Doreen added. "He sleeps under the covers with me at night, comes everywhere with me and even seems to like it when I dress him up!"

Shortly before Christmas, Doreen sent me the above picture which would even put a smile on Scrooge.

I suggested she should try to market the photograph to one of the greeting card companies.

Earlier last week, Doreen called to confirm, Bernie was hers. She wanted to officially adopt him. "Yes, he's a little bastard, but I love him to death. I told my boyfriend, Bernie is all I wanted for Christmas!"

Today, I am sending Doreen the adoption contract.

But, that's not the total end to the story:

The other night, while at the boarding facility, I met Jane, a former colleague and acquaintance who I worked with ten years ago in fighting for reforms in the city shelter. Jane is currently helping to walk some of the dogs in the boarding facility.

Later, Jane and I talked on the phone to catch up on old and new times.

"By the way, what did you do with that little Tibetan Spaniel mix you had at the place a while ago? He was one very nasty little dog! Scary. He used to lunge every time I or anyone walked by. I called him, 'Demon Dog.' Did you have to have him euthanized?"

"Oh no! Well, you probably won't believe this, but........."

As had been said on this blog many times by myself and others:

"No animal is truly unadoptable."

If there was a special person out there for the crazy "little bastard dog" Bernie, there is a special person for every dog and cat.

That only we could find them all before the sands of time and circumstance run out. -- PCA


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