We have been searching for another dog to adopt, off and on, ever since Haydn’s passing 1.5 years ago. In the pass 4 months, we begin to up the ante and reached out to multiple rescue groups and shelters after seeing a few that caught our attention. Those came to naught as we found out quickly. We were always caught in a certain amount of red tape and bait-and-switch tactics. In any case, it was frustrating.
It would have been easier buying a puppy, but we know there are many abused and neglected dogs that needed our love, protection and nourishment. So we persisted – as if we didn’t have enough on our plates. Our weekends were spent making trips around the tri-state area, visiting potential adoptees.
Just as we were about to give up on the search, the calls started pouring in around Thanksgiving. We met Dusty (Trusty), an “owner surrender.” He is a 2-year-old black Cocker Spaniel, with straight, black lustrous fur. He is the envy of Asian girls and my husband alike. However, for unknown reasons to the rescue group, he lost hair from his neck down to his elbows. Aside from that, he is visibly skinny.
On our first meet with Trusty-Dusty, we also met with another Cocker called Red Velvet (ingeniously named for his reddish coat). Jess didn’t like either males who were bigger than her and snapped them into place immediately.
I told the President of the group that we would have to forgo them both. But she needed foster homes for the dogs too, otherwise they will be stuck in a cage at the vet’s.
Unconvinced, but still wanting to see a few more rescues from the group, we made another trip into the city the following week to visit with others. It came to naught, and somehow we were “strong-armed/heart” into fostering Trusty-Dusty for the month, until he returned to the dermatologist to figure out his skin/fur condition.
On December 4, we fostered him. We learned things very quickly with him. He was afraid of car rides. He had NO CLUE how to do his business outside, but luckily would go to the wee-wee pads we set up for Jessie when we are at work. Everything outside of the house startled him. The slightest movement, the softest of sounds or even a mere gust of the wind would stop him in his tracks. He didn’t even know how to smell the ground that Jessie peed on. During the coldest of the week after Thanksgiving, hubs and I took turns walking him for more than 30 minutes each time. On lucky days, we were rewarded with a pee or a poop. It was worse than most drawn out constipation. On unlucky days (which was more often than the lucky ones), frozen to the core, we returned home with nothing to show for. Worse, the moment we stepped in the house, he would promptly go in the house. We were frustrated and tired, to say the least.
Dusty is the total opposite of Jessie in every way. While she is calm, he is easily excitable. She is as deaf as he is acutely keen in his hearing. He’s the biggest busybody aka KPC (kay-po-chee) on earth. He has to be a part of everything. And Jess definitely doesn’t like him and his nose poking into everything. Her snapping became growls that quickly escalated to fights. Soon, Dusty retaliated. However, the happy-go-lucky man shrug it off just as quickly as it came. We soon realize that he is extremely trainable, lovable and most of all itchy.
During the week on meds and bathing (per the dermatologist’s instructions) nothing changed. In fact, Dusty began to scratch, rub, bite and lick even more. I called the President of the group and told her the situation – his condition not improving, Jess definitely not taking to him and hubs had broken out in small patches of rashes after playing with him. (I told her this because I sensed she was looking for me to adopt him permanently)
She told me she would get someone to pick him up immediately (December 15) to go to the vet (this was early last week). In the mean time, she will look for another foster home for him, even though it would be difficult during the holiday season. I told her not to worry about the fostering, if she permitted, my sister (DC) would foster him. She was only too happy to have the problem solved for her. I was happy too, because in truth, in that one week, we became attached to him just as he, us. And my dear sister got volunteered for fostering/adopting a dog even though she was miles away from America.
At that time, two separate rescue groups got back to us about two different Schnauzers in their care. Jess made the decision for us. One was an emaciated stud from North Carolina (the group presumed he was rescued from a puppy mill) living in a kennel and the other was an owner abandon but in a foster home.
We adopted the older, scrawnier, teethless (less four giant-sized incisors) and more timid schnauzer of the two. On hubs’ birthday, we made our way upstate New York and brought home a tiny 11 lbs schnauzer, that slept all the way home in my arms.
Since the Schnauzer was named Henry by the group, we renamed him Thierry Henry (on-ri) to lessen the change coming his way. Hénri proved to be a handful. Even after unloading three times outside before coming into the house, he insisted on christening the house a few times after that. Oddly enough, he never drank a drop of water.
Walking three dogs four times a day is no laughing matter, not when each required different attention. Jessie is the fastest of the lot – she knows what she has to do, and doesn’t take her time to smell the “roses”. Dusty is getting accustomed to going out for walks and is taking to doing his business outside of the house. However, he’s still itching, and the promised “pick-up to the vet” never materialized. In fact, the President has yet to call me after a week of failed “pick-ups.” I’m beginning to wonder if that group really cares for their dogs. We even offered to bring Dusty to our vet, but she declined. We also figured out that Hénri would just do it in the backyard instead of being walked. He, however, still marks the house when excited. He has a “house” set-up inside our house, to prevent accidents like that from happening, and a constant diaper attached to his behind, which really doesn’t work because his, ahem, “little brother” always manages to escape the diaper.
The two of us are tired. But, at least we know two more dogs have a place to call home. In their short time with us, the two dogs have experienced more than they have in their lives (Dusty 2 years & Hénri 6-8 years). They both know the outside world now. They both have people to love, not to fear. They know what a bath is, and what it feels like to be clean: Clean eyes everyday, clean teeth (or whatever is remaining), clean ears and brushed hair. They know what chicken, rice and carrots taste like. Fruits and vegetables that were once foreign to them are now their joy. Dusty and Hénri had their first taste of banana, pears and cantaloupe, and love them. They know what homemade cookie tastes like.
Jessie still has her occasional growl and barking match with Dusty – as long as he doesn’t try to take me away from her. Surprisingly, just as when she first met Hénri, she doesn’t seem to have a problem with him. I guess she doesn’t see him as a competitor of my affections.
However, there is still much work to be done with Hénri. His personality is slowly emerging. Not only is he an excitable yippee barker, but he seems to have a naughty streak in him. He runs away when I try to get him to go out, and hides in little nooks he knows I can’t get to. He still doesn’t want to drink water on his own, forcing us to add water in his food and to use a syringe to get water to him. He still swallows his food, afraid that it will be taken away from him at a moment’s notice. Luckily it is soft enough for him to do without much chewing.
Tonight, Dusty goes over to DC. Even if I can’t possibly adopt him, I want to try to find him a good home that I can constantly visit. No more big brown eyes, with lashes to die for, and black hair that makes hubs green with envy, staring up at us at night. No more crazy runs in the house, knocking down everything in sight and inciting havoc with the littlest one. No more stare downs with Jessie (maybe this will still happen). No more watching him play by himself as he happily flips a toy in the air and catches it himself. Hopefully he will find a permanent home with DC. It will be too painful otherwise.
Barely 2.5 weeks have passed with him. Yet, he has taught us patience, love and most of all, blind trust. In turn, we too have found a place in his heart. As we left him at DC’s, we heard his soft cries and scratching at the door.