After living 13 years with the very best dog in the world and the tragedy of having to put her down due to breast cancer, my husband and I finally decided that we might be ready for a puppy. After 2 negative experiences (a Boxer whose mother carried and passed on red mange and an aggressive Rottweiler) we had just about given up. The Head of My Household said maybe we'd have better luck with a smaller dog so we began quietly looking around for a Boston Terrier, a dog that he has fond childhood memories of.
After Hurricane Katrina our local shelters were packed out...so packed out, in fact, that even the no-kill shelters were running out of room, resources, foster homes, etc. The newspapers were filled every day with pictures of dogs who'd been found, whose owners had had to leave them behind or who had been homeless to start with before the storm. There were some success stories in reuniting animals with their owners but not as many as we wished.
One day I opened the newspaper to find a picture of a Boston Terrier at a shelter about 30 miles from us. The dog was a male and was a little older; I could tell from a little whiteness around his whiskers. I knew our chances of him still being at the shelter by the time we arrived would be slim but my older girls and I took a chance and drove to the shelter.
When we arrived we went directly to the cage where the Boston Terrier was housed and the shelter worker told us his sad story and that lots of people had called about him after seeing his picture in the paper. He was a cutie for sure, but in color and in real life a little older than I had even thought from his picture in the paper. I felt a little uneasy and I knew I needed to think this decision through smartly.
We walked all throughout the shelter talking to and petting whenever possible the animals, small, medium and large who had no homes. All three of us were on the verge of tears when we came to a few cages where the animals had been tagged differently than the others. They had been at the shelter too long. In order to give all the animals a better chance at finding homes, and having enough food and shelter opportunities, this shelter had no choice but to have some of the animals (those less likely to be adopted for whatever reason...survival of the fittest and all that) put down.
One scruffy little dog was soaking wet...all the way to the bone...and standing in about an inch or two of water...the shelter was doing its best to keep taking care of animals while repairing its own damage, but water is a force to be reckoned with once it's been let loose. The dog's misshapen little body was explained to us as a result of injuries that had not healed correctly...the dog could not speak...made no sound, walked with a limp, was hard of hearing and in such a pitiful state that she had been triaged to the unadoptable group. Obviously this animal had been abused and misused. They could make no guarantees of her mental state on top of everything else, not knowing what horrible experiences she may have endured. Nor could they give us any idea of what size dog she would be since she was such a mixture of breeds.
You know which one we adopted right??
We couldn't take her with us that day. The shelter's policy is that all animals who leave there must be spayed and neutered. We signed all the papers, paid the adoption fee and went home to break the news to the Head of My Household. He was not happy about our final decision but at the same time not surprised either...he just rolled his eyes.
We took the little dog straight to our vet who gave her a thorough check-up, even some x-rays to make sure there was no hidden internal damage that we couldn't see. Other than her weird shape (bones fused inappropriately), Hermione (we were avid Harry Potter fans) was pronounced in good health. The vet did say that she was younger than the shelter thought and was not happy that they spayed her so early. She predicted urinary difficulties in the future and definitely arthritis. But, other than that, we were good to go.
Hermione is now 6 years old, a little more stiff, and still can't bark...but she is THE most loveable dog you'll ever meet.
The Head of My Household calls her the "Helen Keller dog" and her body is still really weird looking (which is why you'll mostly only see pictures of her from the front)...but we love her all the same and she loves us right back in her calm, silent way.
In the photo above Hermione is letting The Head of My Household point the leaf blower in her direction...notice her ears flopping in the wind ;)