Our beloved Bailey, a chocolate Lab we had for ten years, was a rescue dog. He’d been registered with a Labrador rescue organization whose previous owner couldn’t handle his size. But he hadn’t been a shelter dog. When we lost him last year, I started hearing the call of the shelter dogs. Last February, my sister Cathy and I went to the Healdsburg Animal Shelter to look around. Clay was busy and said that he couldn't come unless it was really important. I was pretty sure I’d be bringing home a dog because I can’t leave all those animals in the shelter once I’d seen them. Once, I’d accompanied my daughter and her husband to a shelter while they picked out a cat. I had to go wait in the lobby because I couldn’t take the heartbreak of all those animals that needed a home.
The first dog we met was Cooper, a nice enough dog but he didn’t seem very interested. He had a lot of pit bull in him, and I’m just more of a lab, aussie, spaniel-type of person. When I mentioned this to the shelter assistant, she said, “Oh, have you seen Cowboy?” My sister and I looked at each other and grinned, sharing the same certainty that this was going to be the dog.
We walked into the kennel area and she pointed out Cowboy, now Jake. He looked at me and I looked at him and it was love at first sight. Tears came to my eyes and I laughed, saying, "Now, THAT's what I'm talking about!" We took him outside and Jake wouldn't leave our side. He is a real leaner and all he would do is lean on us and stare into our eyes. Cripes. The woman said a young couple had looked at him the day before and were interested but they needed to get approval from their landlord. But the shelter doesn’t hold dogs, and Jake could go if an appropriate home was offered. Right after she told us that, we saw a young couple holding a leash walking from the parking lot. I thought, "It's them!" I grabbed my phone and called Clay, telling him, "Come here now!" He said, "I'm on my way!" He knows that tone of voice.
When Clay arrived and saw Jake through the fence, he said, "Well, that's a cute guy!" When he walked into the enclosure, Jake walked up to him, bowed this head and pressed his forehead against Clay's thigh. I swear, it really happened just that way. Of course, Clay was hooked. We went in and adopted him on the spot. It turned out the young couple was just looking, and they were not the couple who’d seen Jake the day before.
Jake had been at the Humboldt County Shelter for three months and had been on their euthanasia list, can you believe it? The Healdsburg Animal Shelter claimed him because they felt he was adoptable. I’m not one for PSA’s, but please, spay or neuter your animals and adopt from shelters and rescue organizations. Clay and I are sure glad we did.