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Adopting A Dog

Adopting a dog or being adopted by it, it's not always easy to tell.

We went to see about adopting another dog yesterday.  I met a woman in a LinkedIn discussion group for Collie owners, and learned about an adoptable collie she was fostering.  The dog had been mistreated and was extremely shy and skittish especially around strange people.  When we went to meet her, it was obvious she was much more at home with other dogs than people.  She and our dog Prince got along well, but around us, her tail was tucked between her legs and she was terrified. 

As hard as it was for us, we had to recognize that this particular dog needed much more than we would be able to give.  Where she was in foster care much better for her at this point on the journey she had to make. 

As we drove home, still thinking it over and talking about it, I remembered my first dog.  I was no more than eight or nine.  Our family went up to Greenwood Lake in NY State where members of our church had a cottage.  I was playing out in the woods where I found a little black and white stray dog.  My father said it was a fox terrier mix. Probably more than that, but I never really inquired into her background any deeper than that.  What's it really matter between friends? 

The dog was terribly shy and skittish but eventually she came to me, and then she wouldn't leave me.  Stuck with me like glue.  I had been adopted.  I brought her back to the cottage and announced to everyone that wanted to keep her.  The adults all laughed and made comments about how bad she smelled and fleas, but then they went into their mysterious adult world for their discussions and I noted from my eight year old world that I hadn't heard 'no', and that was good enough for me. 

After dinner, my father went out with our friend to find the dog's owner.  If the dog had an owner they said, it would be this man.  Not a pleasant man I sensed.  But we had to ask.  Half an hour later, they came back and my father paid the guy $5 and that was that. 

This is the threshold that grace first entered in my life.  An important bridge was crossed that night.  Through this little dog, I began to know myself as one who could care and love, as well as one who was cared for and loved.  Maybe that's what pets do for us. 

Someday, I have no doubt the right adoptable collie will come along, just like our little fox terrier, I named Spot.  Clever right?  I was only eight, give me a break. 

I remember sitting with Spot, while we waited for my father to return.  Spot was curled sleeping in my lap, farting up a storm.  I held her afraid to move and disturb her sleep, my eyes watering, feeling like a king in a bountiful new land. 

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Ruth Schulenberg April 13, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I pray the skittish collie finds the perfect "forever home."
John Carlson April 13, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Charles, I suspect your capacity for canine grace is far larger than you imagine, much as God's grace is beyond our capacity to understand. Go back and get the collie. John
Rev. Charles Oberkehr April 13, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Thanks John, you're very kind. My capacity for inflated "savior complex" ego is even greater than any canine grace I may possess. It is heartbreaking, to see the results of human cruelty, and I can't help but wonder what kind of damaged people are out there capable of violating such unquestioning trust and gentleness of a dog like Kylie. I know and trust the right situation will come along for her. I am in awe of the foster "parents" Banu and Sandy, who pitch in and do this work. They are unsung heroes to be sure. Maybe in my next life, I'll run a kennel like this. In the meantime, here is the link to Kylie's information. http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/22230423 Also, to the collie rescue site http://www.savecollies.org Lots of great collies looking for homes. By the way, I think we may have found a dog in need of adopting more suited to our situation. I'm sure to be writing about that soon, if all goes through.

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