Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Karma" (New York City)

(Picture Left: "DJ" --One in a million dog with apparently "one in a million" karma.)

My Grandmother used to say:

"God looks out for Saints and drunks."

Since being in animal rescue, I have added to that wise line:

God looks out for Saints, drunks -- and animal rescuers."

Similar to last week, this week was still one more example of that.

I had committed to rescuing a Chow that had arrived at the city shelter more than a week ago after his owner died.

Because "DJ's" former owner had died, the red Chow became a "holding" case at the shelter and, by law, a letter had to be sent out to the former address in the event a relative of the deceased wanted to reclaim the dog.

It is very rare in cases like these that a relative steps up to reclaim an animal. Nevertheless the "holding" is a protocol that is important to have in place for those rare exceptions that actually occur.

During the week that DJ was on "hold" in the shelter, it gave me time to advertise him on adoption sites and to personally promote him to potential adopters or fosters.

At least three different people had expressed interest in either adopting or fostering the gentle and mellow Chow.

One man actually made an appointment to meet and hopefully adopt DJ, but then called the next day to tell me his wife didn't think they were "ready" for a new dog so soon after their 14-year-old Chow died a couple of months ago.

Two other people offered to foster DJ, but then seemingly dropped off the planet when I left messages on their cell phones that the hold was off on DJ (as of Thursday) and the dog needed to immediately get out of the euthanizing shelter.

For a dog that should have been "easy" to find a foster or adopter for (due to DJ's excellent behavior in the shelter and handsome looks), things were turning out a lot more difficult than I anticipated.

Then, on Thursday a young woman living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan called about adopting a dog. "Alisa" had an ideal situation for adoption (or fostering). She lived alone and didn't have either kids or other pets. Additionally, Alisa was experienced with dogs, having grown up with them and even having previously fostered two dogs for another organization.

I told Alisa about DJ and she seemed eager to actually adopt the fully trained and easy going Chow. I also offered the possibility of fostering DJ if Alisa wasn't sure about immediately adopting. The main thing was to get DJ out of the pound. I had already received two calls from New Hope personnel at the shelter besieging me, "When are you picking up DJ? He needs to leave."

Alisa informed me that she was getting out from work early on Friday (yesterday) and would call between noon and 1PM to arrange meeting at the shelter.

But, I knew well that such "promises" could not be relied upon and had already begun to consider boarding for DJ -- especially when the clock neared 2PM and I had still not heard from Alisa.

Then, the phone rang and I quickly picked up thinking it was the young woman to adopt or foster DJ.

But, it was somebody else.

The woman at the other end of line spoke with a sophisticated, well bred accent and told me she was in New York City for a few days visiting her Mother. She was a partner in a no kill shelter that was located in Martha's Vinyard, Massachusetts. "Tess" added that the shelter had plenty of space this time of year and she was hopeful of being able to rescue a few animals from New York City to bring back to Martha's Vinyard.

The call seemed like a small miracle, but having been "burned" so much -- especially recently, I proceeded carefully and slowly with Tess.

Nevertheless, I told Tess about DJ and his urgency in needing to get out of the shelter.

As matters turned out, Tess's Mom lived in my neighborhood and so, (within minutes) Tess arrived with a driver to pick me up and go to the shelter together.

Sitting in the back of the car with Tess, she casually informed me that she was the daughter of a famous and Oscar winning actress from the 50's through 70's.

"Oh, wow," I replied. "Well, I certainly see the resemblance! Your Mom was immensely talented. I saw her in a number of wonderful movies."

"Still is," Tess gently corrected referring to the "was" in talented. It was obvious she was very proud of and close with her Mother.

Arriving at the shelter, DJ was brought out to us and it was quickly decided within minutes that Tess was indeed taking him back with her to Martha's Vineyard.

DJ was beautiful (although needing a bath and some brushing), well cared for, healthy and a pleasure to handle.

But, meanwhile, since Tess's shelter could take more animals, we left DJ with Tess's driver outside the shelter to look at other animals in the wards.

The Manhattan AC&C was totally packed with no empty cages anywhere in the shelter.

Since Martha's Vinyard (due to an aggressive spay/neuter program) did not suffer the usual cat and kitten overpopulation problems that almost every other area of the country does, Tess told me she was in position to take kittens or even a couple of Moms and litters as there was now high demand, especially for kittens in her area.

Sadly, there was no shortage of "Moms and litters" at Animal Care and Control.

The shelter had at least a half a dozen "new families" -- a very ominous sign for so early in the kitten breeding season.

Tess agreed to take at least two sets of moms and kittens, a couple of solitary kittens and an 8-year-old raggedy, but sweet, Shih-Tzu (in addition to DJ, the Chow) back with her to Massachusetts.

Since she represented a no kill shelter and had all her Non-Profit paper work with her, I suggested to Tess that she and her shelter become a "New Hope Partner" of the AC&C, so that she could do direct rescues and even arrange transport of the animals to her shelter's location.

I introduced Tess to Lisa (one of the New Hope coordinators) in order expedite that process along. While in the wards, Tess had liked a couple of beautiful (and seemingly purebred) Labrador Retrievers, (given up from homes for "cost") but was in no position to cram the larger dogs in the car with DJ and all the cats.

We had been at the shelter more than two hours when all the animals had finally been decided upon that Tess would take back with her to Martha's Vinyard.

But, for the moment, Tess was only taking DJ back to her Mom's apartment, as the other animals needed shots and testing.

Outside the shelter, Tess's driver, Less, sat with a very relaxed DJ and raved to us on how well DJ was already trained.

"You know, this dog sits on command, gives paw and even lies down!" Less told us enthusiastically and then proceeded to demonstrate.

And like the obedient and cheerful dog he is, DJ jumped in the back seat of the car and sat down, like he had done this a million times before.

I couldn't help but think to myself the truly fabulous dog, all the flaky losers who had bailed on DJ missed out on. There was no question that DJ would be a highly desirable dog back on Martha's Vineyard. Someone there would be very lucky to adopt the beautiful, red Chow.

But, even more so, for the dog himself, DJ had truly "lucked out." He was now going to one of the most beautiful and opulent areas of the entire country. There was no need to worry that DJ would ever become some pitiful "yard dog" chained to the back of some decrepit dog house.

Sitting in the back seat of the car with Tess and DJ (as she kindly offered to drop me home), I asked Tess why her Mom didn't have a dog. "She travels too much" Tess explained.

"Well, tell your Mom for me, how much I admire her as an actress," I said. "They sure don't make 'em like that anymore!"

"Maybe you'd like to come by and meet her." Tess replied cheerfully, though I couldn't tell if she was serious. "You can hold her Oscar!"

"Well, it wouldn't be the first time I'd be perceived as a 'drama queen!' I laughed.

Finally back home, I considered briefly, calling all the unreliable duds who had promised and then bailed out on DJ just to tell them the great dog they lost out on.

But, in the end, I figured they weren't worth either the time or the dime that it would cost to call.

"Karma will get them back one way or the other," I reasoned to myself.

Just as "karma" -- or God, "looks out for Saints, drunks -- and animal rescuers." -- PCA


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