Mike is the brown boy. His broad head sits between softly flopping ears, smooth as satin velvet. He grins his black mouth grin, wide tongue wagging, wide eyes shifting with every move I make. He is extremely attentive, sadly, not in the way of a confident, well-trained dog, but in the way of one who has been physically punished too young and too often. He was very likely left alone for long stretches. Surrendered by his owner and probably passed over repeatedly due to kennel card, which read “destructive” as the owner’s reason for abandoning him. It took almost three days to elicit a wag and he still hasn’t warmed to everyone in the household (Mike prefers the ladies).
Molly is our collie girl. Slinky and slender, she came to us with kennel cough, zero energy and no appetite, but she has a sweetness
about her that endears us immediately. Even in her extremely weakened state, she will uncurl from her convalescence to do her business in the yard, gently wagging to our coos of encouragement. House trained and fully adult, we have no idea how she came to be a stray. She sleeps with my daughter, eight-year-old Lily, cuddling for warmth, the perfect first dog for a little girl: gentle, calm and steady.
Duke is my super star. As I contemplate what to say about him, I can only muster, “love at first sight.” Walking the D ward at the shelter, I came to his stall and knelt to face him. In the chaos of desperate barking, he sat composed and gazing serenely from the behind the bars, 65 pounds of well-muscled, deep espresso canine handsomeness. When he caught sight of the rope lead in my hand, he cocked an ear, tongue peeking out of his half-smile and looked at me with slightly crossed eyes to say, “Yes! I’d LOVE a walk.” I am determined to give these dogs everything I can and re-home them to safe and stable families, but I’ll admit this dog changed something in me. I don’t know how I’ll let him go.