By Jim Segaar
I’m in awe of 9 pounds of fur and attitude, all wrapped up in the little bundle of energy we’ve named Lucy.
Lucy is a Chihuahua mix that we adopted from the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society two weeks ago. We’d decided it was finally time to get our senior citizen Otto a little sister. WVHS is conveniently located halfway between our city house and country house, and they had lots of dogs available for adoption listed on their website.
I’ve adopted (aka rescued) dogs in the past, but I was a bit apprehensive about doing so again. It can be a hard process to make a traumatized creature feel like part of the family. I still remember what it was like with my beloved Rommy who I rescued more than 30 years ago. He ran away three times in the first months and it took two years for him to really feel at home with me. But Jim G and I agreed that it was time to give rescuing another try.
WVHS made the process so easy. When we arrived, we gave them our rather loose criteria for a new dog: a female who will not grow to more than 40 pounds – the size limit of our doggy doors. We took Otto with us so we could make sure any new additions to the family would get along with him.
Jim G had seen a little dog named Maggie online, so a friendly volunteer I’ll call Val put us in a meeting area and brought over Maggie. She was tiny, quivering, and frozen in place behind bugged out eyes. She looked like I expected for a rescued dog – in major shock. She was afraid of us, of Otto, and it seemed even of the air around her. “She may warm up to you,” Val said. “It just might take some time. But if you want a dog who is already friendly, I can show you one of those.” Maggie just seemed miserable being out with the three of us, so we agreed to meet someone else.
Next Val brought Shirley to our pen and let her off leash. She immediately owned the place. She ran up to each of us for pets, sniffed out Otto, and within a few seconds won all of our hearts. Well maybe not Otto’s, but he didn’t seem to hate her.
The shelter had limited information about Shirley’s past. She was brought in as a stray, and was very pregnant. She was put in a foster home until she gave birth to five pups. When we met her the pups were 10 weeks old, and all but one of them had been adopted already. We had to leave Shirley overnight so she could be neutered, and by the time we picked her up the last puppy had also found a home.
Our new little girl didn’t seem too attached to the name Shirley, so we changed it to Lucy, after another fiery redhead. And she is amazing. She loves playing, eating, and especially sleeping in one of our laps. She doesn’t bug “Uncle Otto,” who is too old to be her brother. And she seems to be housetrained. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect pup. I am in awe of her.
My awe increases when I consider her background. Consider her recent past. Imagine a 9-pound Chihuahua mix, about three years old, on her own somewhere in Eastern Washington. She survived, as did the pups growing inside her, all alone until she was picked up by Animal Control. Then she was put in temporary housing until she gave birth, then hauled back to a shelter where her pups disappeared one at a time. And finally, on her own again, she headed out the door with three guys she’d just met.
She made herself at home with us as soon as we got to the car. It was hard to get her to eat at first, until we realized that she wanted Uncle Otto’s canned food instead of the kibble that the shelter had fed her. Now she eats with relish, plays fetch and chase, loves to go for walks – on a leash – and spreads joy everywhere she scampers. She is living her life with gusto and love, and bringing both into our lives in the process.
All that just months after being abandoned. Homeless. Pregnant. Not sure where her next meal was coming from.
Matthew Fox writes about the relationship between awe and gratitude. It is difficult to feel gratitude if one is not awed, according to him.
Well, I am in awe of our resilient pup Lucy. And I am grateful that such an amazing creature has wiggled her way into our hearts. And that Uncle Otto puts up with it all.
Oh for a world that loves, and recovers, like our dogs.
This blog includes thoughts from various contributors at Seattle First Baptist