As some of you might know, our beloved beagle mix, Josie (a rescue from Arkansas who became the model for Sparky of Magic Bone fame) passed away this summer. My husband Danny and I were heartbroken. And the pain was so raw that we decided we would never get another dog.
But, as so many dog lovers before us have learned, that pain fades. And what comes in its place is a desire to have a new dog enter your lives. So, five months after we lost Josie, Danny and I started combing the online sites for another rescue dog.
For weeks and weeks, we would apply for one cute dog after another, preferably adult and housetrained. But not one of those rescue organizations called us back. We were very discouraged. And once in a while I would want to give up. I figured it was probably good news we weren’t getting a call. After all, it meant all those dogs had found furever homes. And maybe the universe had decided that we had been so lucky to have had our darling Pepper (the spaniel mix that was featured in my Katie Kazoo Switcheroo books) and sweet Josie, that it was someone else’s turn now. But it still hurt to not be the ones picked to be someone’s furever parents.
And then…it happened.
Not one hour after we applied for six-year-old Lhasa Apso rescue named Jacob, we got an email. The dog was being cared for by a foster mom who lived just three blocks away. Could we come meet him the next day?
Could we ever!
And so, 24 hours later, there we were, all masked up, and ready to meet Jacob in the lobby of his foster mom’s apartment building. We were warned that he had had a rough life, and probably been abused by men, because he growled at them and wouldn’t approach them. But that did not scare us off. Danny and I sat on the floor and waited for the precious little guy to come to us. As expected, he first walked nervously over to me. Then he nestled in my lap, letting me pet him. I was in love immediately.
But there was still the problem of how the dog would relate to my husband.
Danny reached out a hand for the little dog to sniff. Something about that sniff must have been magical, because not a minute later, he had left me and was nestled in Danny’s arms, allowing himself to be pet and cuddled.
As we sat on the floor with the dog, we heard his story. As best as his foster mom could put it together, Jacob had been owned by a Llhasa Apso breeder, and never been outside. He spent most of his time in a cage. Eventually, he developed an infection which meant he had to be neutered. Since he couldn’t be of any use to a breeder after that, they dumped him in a kill shelter. It breaks my heart to think of how frightened he must have been, all alone in another cage, in a strange place.
Believe me I know how horrible this story sounds, but I assure you, that was a lucky break for the little Lhasa Apso. The rescue group saved him from the kill shelter. They took him to a wonderful vet who not only neutered him but cleaned his teeth and checked his health inside and out. Then his foster mom brought him home and taught him to walk on a leash. Finally, he was ready to have his cute little face posted on the online adoption sites. To do that, he also needed a name, She called him Jacob.
When it came time to end our first meeting with the small white and brown dog, I whispered in his ear—“Now don’t you be nice to any of the other people who are coming to meet you. Growl at them. Make sure we are the ones picked to be your new family.”
When I got home, I did all the things you are supposed to do when you are trying to adopt a dog. I gave the foster mom the names of our references and our veterinarian. I wrote her a thank you note for letting us meet him, and assuring her we were very much interested in being his furever family.
And then we waited.
And waited some more.
For three long days, I waited by the phone. So did my friends. So did my vet, who we had alerted that she might get a call.
But no calls came.
Until three days later. Then there were a flurry of calls. First to my vet, and then to our references. And then on Monday morning our phone rang…
“Hello Nancy? I was wondering, are you still interested in adopting Jacob?”
Was I still interested? Uh yeah. I’d thought of nothing else all week. “Of course we are,” I replied.
“Well, then congratulations. You can come get him tomorrow.”
Even as I’m writing this, my heart is pounding and I’ve got goosebumps. Up until that moment I hadn’t let myself get too excited—in case everything fell through. But once I knew he was ours, I went into full-on dog mom mode. My husband and I gave up on working that day. Instead we hit every pet shop in the neighborhood, buying bowls, dogfood, a harness, a tiny coat, dog toys and a cushiony bed for our new arrival.
There was still one more detail to tend to. The dog didn’t seem like a Jacob to us. And besides, we figured, he hadn’t been with his foster mom long enough to get used to the name. So we didn’t feel bad at all about giving him a name that seemed to fit him better. It was Danny who came up with his name. Scooby. A new name for his new life.
I didn’t sleep at all that whole night. All I thought about was how we were getting a new dog. The next morning, I practically danced the whole way over to his foster mom’s apartment building, with Scooby’s new coat and leash in hand.
And as I danced through the streets of Manhattan, I thought about the life we were going to give this dog. My husband and I had promised ourselves we were going to make up for the rough first chapter this little guy had been forced to endure. He was going to take walks in Central Park. He was going to take happy car rides. And he was going to be loved. He would never want for a lap to sit on, or a person to cuddle with again. He deserved nothing less.
Scooby has been in our life for nearly four weeks now. I have never known a dog to want more cuddles, or to so passionately adore sitting on a lap for hours on end. But the most exciting thing for him is when his coat comes out of the closet and he knows he’s going outside. Boy does he love going outside.
Now, there are some who might say Scooby was lucky he met my husband and me. But I would disagree. I think we’re the lucky ones. Because seeing how happy Scooby is at the slightest things—be it his first time in the snow, or managing to scarf up a taco chip that “accidentally” fell off the table, is a thrill and an honor for us. Watching his little tail wag wildly when I walk in the door, and having his rough little tongue kiss my face is magical. (Okay, maybe not when he gets it too close to my mouth, but nothing is perfect.)
I am hoping that some day Scooby will forget his rough days in a cage, and just be a happy little dog. But having had rescue dogs before, I know that he will always be a little more grateful than dogs who come from breeders or pet shops, because he will know how tough things can actually be, and they won’t. I’m just glad that I get to be the one who shows him how good the world can be when you have folks who love you.