The Day We Met
He was shaking with terror as I pet him in his kennel. M said that it was his safe place and he practically lived there. It was in her office, so he could be near her, the only person he trusted.
I asked if I could hold him and was surprised that they told me he would be okay with it. He didn’t seem okay. Both front legs rigidly gripped my arm and the whites of his eyes bulged in fear. She told me he would also clamp her arm like that sometimes when she picked him up.
As I talked quietly and soothingly, he gradually relaxed in my arms. I patted his head and body in soft rhythmic motions and gently scratched his ears. He seemed to like that.
Theo and I had thought about getting a small dog for a long time. He would have to be non-shedding, like a Shih-Tzu or any poodle mix, as I was becoming allergic to some dogs.
The ad said the dog was a “Schnoodle” or a Poodle-Shnauzer mix, so that sounded about right. In his picture, though, he looked very much like a poodle. Apparently, he had been sent to the groomers and his owners were not happy they had cut him so short. They left this funny little tuft of hair on the top of his head, which was rather cute, but M said that cutting away the hair around his eyes took away his self-confidence. He thought if you couldn’t see his eyes, you couldn’t see him.
I passed him over to Theo to hold and M marveled how quickly he settled into his arms and relaxed. Maybe it was the baby-sleeper hold. M said even she couldn’t hold him like that.
All the while we talked with M about Shortie’s issues.
He was two years and seven months old. They had gotten him from a Rescue facility seven months prior. Wild-eyed and shaking, he even had to be rescued from there. His over-long fur was matted with feces, which he would eat. Her heart had gone out to him and she knew she had to get him out of there. They figured he had been in a puppy mill for two years and abused—probably by men, because he cringed or ran from them on sight.
When they got him to their home, the little guy still had a hard time settling in. T, the father of the house, would walk into a room and Shortie would bolt, spraying poop and urine as he went. One day, when M was gone, T had made the mistake of trying to pull him out from under the porch and Shortie bit him. Many times, he had to patrol the neighborhood on his bike looking for him. He said he knew every phone number of every radio station.
After seven months of trying, they knew their family was not the right fit. Although he would play with the five-year old girl and a little bit with the eight-year old boy, the boy was too much boy for him, and the man, well, he was a man! All men were greatly to be feared, especially big or tall ones.
My first impressions were mixed. On the one hand, he definitely pulled my heartstrings because of his plight. But his looks at first did not warm me to him. First off, he really did look like a Poodle, and I never did like the look of the Poodle-cut. We once had a Poodle named Frosty when the kids were growing up. Pure white, with two black eyes and a little black nose, he was aptly named. We loved him dearly. He was the best dog we ever had. But we let his hair grow so he looked more like a mop, not a poodle.
This dog, Shortie, was brown. Brown everything: fur, eyes, and even nose. Plus, the whites of his eyes showed prominently. Maybe subconsciously I expected him to be like Frosty. In any case, his looks did not endear me to him. We decided we would go home and see if I developed an asthma response later. That allergic reaction often happened to me when I was around some dogs. Already, I could see a bit of a red rash on my forearms. I made sure I rubbed my face in Shortie’s fur and cuddled him a lot so I would have a good dose.
Now I noticed that he was not just brown. He had three patches of white: the saucy moustasche and goatee, the charming little bib on his chest, and his paws. God had swiped His white paintbrush on the hind-paws, too.
It didn’t take long to decide. By the time the afternoon was over, we knew we wanted that little guy. In my mind I was figuring out how I might have to take allergy meds if it turned out I had an allergy, so that was a pretty good indication!
We called them first thing in the morning.
Shortie was coming home to live with us.