January 2, 2010

one-eyed willie and the boys, part 2 of 3

One-Eyed Willie wasn’t adopted within the first month and so he was moved to the far end of the boys’ building where his chances of the public even knowing he was available for adoption were greatly diminished. The good thing about Willie’s move to the back of the boys’ building was that all four of my boys were within eyesight of each other. We were a pack of five on Sunday mornings, or on afternoons during the week, whenever I showed up. I greeted each of them with a hand through the bars, which they licked, then brought the hand to the other dogs, which was sniffed and subsequently licked.

I never ignored the other dogs. That would have been impossible. So many dogs bark repetitively if a human being is showing attention to another dog. I spoke to whoever was trying for my attention, at least tried to. It wasn’t easy, being pulled this way and that, but the dogs appreciated someone making an effort to look them in the eye, smile, speak and recognize each of them. Of course some could never be satisfied, lots actually. I had to turn my back on their barking at some point. I don’t want to pretend I touched them all, not by a long shot. You do what you can while you’re there. Each building contained 44 kennels, with multiple dogs in many of the kennels. If a dog had a buddy in his kennel, I said hello and that was about it. At least they had each other, I figured. I gravitated to those dogs who didn’t have much of a chance to be adopted. Of course, that’s the majority of dogs at the kennel but you’ve got to start somewhere.

I started with Willie and a huge yellow lab someone eventually named Luke on his kennel card. Luke was very smart. Whenever I tried to shoo him from his indoor kennel to his adjoining outdoor run, he refused. He knew I was ready to close the guillotine and lock him outside while I cleaned the inside of the kennel. Luke wanted to stay in the indoor portion of his kennel and watch me, be a part of the conversation as I cleaned other kennels. Luke was the first dog to refuse going outside and thus paved the way for other dogs to mimic him and decide to remain inside while I cleaned the indoor kennels. Problem was, as I explained to Luke, he tramped shit all over on his paws because he wasn’t a neat animal. So I had to move him so I could clean up. It was an ordeal, and finally I gave in to Luke and put a leash on him and brought him to the back of the shelter property and let him run around, which he did like a colt out in the field for the very first time. He jumped on me, put two shit-colored paw prints on my chest and slapped me with his enormous tongue. He picked up this toy and that one, found a bone he threw ten feet in the air, climbed on picnic tables and punched me in the chest with his paws again when I wasn’t ready. Luke was so regularly paw-deep in shit I avoided climbing into his kennel with him. Sure, I’d clean his kennel, inside and out, but he’d usually drop a load ten minutes later and then bark at me to come and look at cool thing he had done. The problem was that whenever I climbed in his kennel, he would throw all his effort into slipping out of the kennel when I exited. And he was so big and strong that it was a shit-stained battle between us as to who got out and who didn’t. He barked at me, angrily sometimes, when I was passing his kennel with such body language that told him I wasn’t planning on climbing inside. I didn’t blame him. He was in a bad situation. I quietly wondered when the shelter staff was going to euthanize Luke so I didn’t have to deal with the guilt of not wanting a little poop on my jeans on a particular afternoon. Luke was at the kennel for almost two months. Then one day he wasn’t there and I didn’t ask whether he had been adopted because after a while you know the answer and it’s not what you hope.

Here's the next part.