Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our baby girl.

This post was supposed to be about our dog and her new BFF, but it just didn't flow since you don't really know Marley. So I figured I'd tell you the story about how Ryan and I became proud parents completely by accident.

In May 2005, I went out to Indiana to visit Ryan at grad school. We were moving in together in a few weeks, right after my grad school graduation, and we were going to look at an apartment. On the way to the apartment complex, we were talking about dog breeders and going to visit one right after I moved in - I was dying for a Britney and figured we'd buy one from an established breeder. In my young mind, shelter dogs were older, unpredictable, and more often than not had behavioral problems that I wasn't prepared to deal with. With a purebred, you knew what you were in for.

But as we were driving home from checking out the new apartment, Ryan looked at me and said, "Want to go to the shelter just to see what they have?" Knowing we wouldn't be taking anything home, I said "Sure, why not". Famous last words, let me tell you.

When we got to the shelter, we asked to see the puppies, but were told that the puppy room was off-limits due to an outbreak of parvo. I was a little disappointed, but figured while we were there we could play with the other dogs. We were lead out to a small yard and were able to play with the dogs one by one. Each time a new dog was brought out, we'd put out our hands to let the dog sniff... but each dog was more interested in being outside that in checking us out. Oh well. It wasn't like we were going to take home any of these mutts anyway, right?

But as we were walking through the shelter on our way out, one of the cage cards caught my eye: "Female, Approx. 1 Year Old, Found on Street. Injured." We had been looking for a puppy, certainly not anything over 4 months old, but as I looked through the wire cage door at the red sack of bones, an overwhelming sense of need came over me. I asked Ryan to find a kennel attendant; I wanted to know what was wrong with this dog. When someone came to open the cage, the little red dog slowly came forward, tail low, but wagging. She limped. I knelt down and she came to me, eyes sad and pleading. As I went to pet her, Ryan noticed that her back foot was bleeding. It looked as if someone had tried to cut off a single toe with a pair of wire cutters. The attendant ran to get an alcohol swab to clean the wound, and as she knelt down with me to clean the dog's foot, the dog moved forward into my arms and laid her sweet head on my shoulder. She whimpered through the whole process, but didn't move a muscle.

After her toe was cleaned up, I looked at Ryan and we asked to take her out to the yard. She gladly followed us outside and let us lead her over to a picnic table. I sat down in a lawn chair, prepared to watch her run around, free from her kennel. She looked around for a minute, then limped over to where I was sitting. She laid her head in my lap and sat very still, looking up at me with her huge brown eyes. As I put my hand on her little head, I looked at Ryan. He smiled and I knew - we wouldn't be going home alone.

On paper, she wasn't what we were looking for - an older, mixed breed, with no history - for all we knew, she could have behavioral problems, food agression... the list goes on. But in my heart, I knew we ended up at the shelter specifically to rescue her, and we took a chance. She has proven to be everything we could have ever asked for - she's a huge snuggle-fest and loves people. Her main goal in life is get her tongue in as many human mouths as possible. She isn't the best with other dogs (she's learning!), but she's great with kids. She's patient and smart and healthy and we can't imagine life without her.

Here she is today, 2 months shy of her 5th birthday, being the princess that she is:

Yes, that is our bed. Yes, that is my pillow. Yes, that is my husbands arm in the upper right hand corner. Yes, I love this little girl with my whole heart.

Soapbox: Shelter dogs make wonderful companions. I'm not going to get all Sarah McLachlan on you, but I believe in giving shelter dogs a second chance. Many times, all they need is a little love and encouragement to become a truly rewarding part of your family.


Claire said...

:-) I love Marley! Even though she is an attention whore.

Also...Would you be interested in going to see Taylor Swift with me? She is playing June 11 (it's a Thursday) in Columbia, MD which I looked up on Google map and it says it's 15 minutes from Laurel at the Merriweather Post Pavillion? Tickets go on sale this Saturday at 10 am. Call me tomorrow and let me know if you are interested! K Bye!

Amy said...

That is a great story. She was definitely meant to be yours! :)

Kerri said...

Oh, my heart could burst! What a sweet dog and I'm sure she will love you forever for rescuing her! It was meant to be.

TLB said...

Just happened on your profile and BRAVO! For saving such a sweet doggie!