Thursday, February 4, 2010

(At Long Last?) On Solid Ground

(Picture Left: Morris -- an "old soul" looking for.....?)

In a very rare instance of having a foster home lined up for dog in the shelter, I went last night to the Manhattan AC&C.

It was the first time going to the shelter (alone) since experiencing a horrible episode of vertigo, dizziness and near-fainting on the subway platform several months ago.

We have of course, rescued a number of dogs since last October. But, the dogs were either transported from the Brooklyn AC&C to boarding or my vet. Or, in one case I went with friends to the Manhattan shelter and we took the bus, rather than the subway.

It was a bit unnerving yesterday while waiting on a packed subway platform for a train that was obviously delayed. When the rush-hour subway finally arrived and I had to step on with a crush of people, my legs seemed to go weak. I had to fight back a fleeting sense of terror that what happened almost three months ago, was about to happen again.

But, fortunately, the feeling this time was only temporary.

By the time the train arrived at the 110th Street station, I was reasonably together again. A quick exit from the subway station and much to my relief and surprise, the ground below my feet felt solid and normal! -- No weakness or "rocking boat" sensations!

The feeling of normalcy and relief continued as I arrived at the Manhattan AC&C and met the two young men who had offered to foster, "Morris," an older, black Chow who a shelter volunteer informed me about a couple of days ago.

The young men are partners living in an Upper West Side apartment. While there is some question with regard to the Landlord's reluctance to allow them to have a dog permanently, Charles and Ken are planning to move anyway as soon as their lease is shortly up.

In any event, with the Manhattan shelter now in a major "space" crunch due to (once again) "renovations," I didn't have the luxury of turning down this otherwise promising foster due to ambiguous apartment circumstances.

There are few adoption and rescue opportunities for older, black Chows at Animal Control -- especially when the dog needs to get out within a few days. Reality is that (rescue) beggars can't be too fussy or "anal."

Both young men were very nice and personable. They came fully prepared with good leash and collar, dog food and other supplies.

We found Morris in a smallish cage in what used to be a kitten-holding room. He had been neutered earlier in the day and seemed a bit sluggish when I removed him from the cage and we took him into the lobby of the shelter.

But, once out of the cage, Morris perked up and immediately looked all around him.

Although arriving at the Manhattan shelter as a Bronx "stray," with a severe ear infection, it was nonetheless obvious that Morris had been an owned dog. His weight was good and his coat reasonably clean and shiny.

But, the real evidence that Morris had been a owned dog was the way he anxiously looked at everyone in the lobby and towards the door, apparently and almost desperately seeking his former owner.

I always think that is sad to see in a dog. We can't explain to the forlorn creatures that their search is futile as their former people are never coming back.

"He will get over that in a few days," I explained to the Charles and Ken. "Usually the dogs will bond to their new people and memories or longings for the past quickly fade."

Nevertheless, I advised Charles and Ken to go slowly with Morris. Its important for new dogs in new situations to have time and peaceful quiet to adjust to all the sudden and major changes in their lives.

Morris was cooperative while I pulled out some loose hair on him and he seemed to be comfortable with the young men petting him. Very typical of Chows, Morris was quiet and reserved. He stood still while I took pictures and video of him.

I wondered, while taking the pictures, how old Morris really is?

The shelter indicated him to be around six-years-old.. But, the look in Morris' eyes and face gives one the feeling of an "old soul."

Once in the street, however, Morris walked alongside his new foster people with pep and vigor.

Both young men were impressed with how nicely Morris walked on the leash and that he appeared to be housebroken.

We all decided that it would be a good idea for Charles and Ken to walk Morris all the way to their Upper West Side apartment.

"It greatly reduces their stress from being in the shelter and also helps in the bonding process to take the dogs for long walks when first getting them," I advised. "Morris has a thick coat on him for the cold and he is physically in good shape. You need not worry."

I parted with Charles and Ken and their new foster dog on Lexington Avenue.

As I waited for the bus to go back home, it occurred to me how well the evening had truly gone.

Good dog, good foster people. And I didn't have one vertigo spell the entire time!

The ground below my feet, a solid slab of cement. -- I felt almost 100% of normal.

Charles and Ken's ultimate goal is to adopt a dog.

If all goes well with Morris and the apartment situation then Morris might well have found his forever home last night.

But, as said to Charles and Ken on the walk from the shelter, "Let's not worry too much about the future right now. Better to take it one day at a time."

But, if the rest of the days can go half as well as yesterday, then, for both Morris and me (and hopefully, his new adopters) then the future is indeed, looking up!

We are at last, seemingly on solid ground. -- PCA


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