We had a little guest staying with us for the past month. Her name is Rosa, a smooth coated Chihuahua mix. Bronwyn and Rosa are best friends, lying out on the deck all day sunbathing, letting their sugar cookie color fur get all warm and toasty. Ralph likes to cuddle up in Rosa’s bed, even though he is much too big for it. The bed disappears under his masses of black fur. Rosa is good to have around. She livens up the place. The dogs seem to want to play more, they stay outside longer, begrudgingly coming in for dinner when called.
Last week, Rosa’s mom came back home, and even though Rosa was very glad to see her, we were all sad to see her go. We decided we needed a Chihuahua in our lives on a more permanent basis. Looking at animal shelter websites, we came across several and decided to go down to the shelter nearest us to investigate. I’m a regular at many Southern California animal shelters. I have helped friends look for lost pets and adopted Ralph at one. Bronwyn was found downtown, so she never really got to see the inside of a shelter, I think, but we’ll never know. She’s as good as any other shelter rescue dog though, and as grateful.
Animal shelters are sad places. You pass by dog after dog pent up in cages, a little sheet of paper stuck onto the bars, with the name of the dog, breed, age, where they were found or why they were given up.. That is the worst. when you read why they were given up.
I saw a pair of beautiful shepherd mixes, tan and black, with big root beer eyes. They were together in one cage and curled up against each other. I called them Husband and Wife dogs. When they saw me, they both got up, as if to introduce themselves. Their eyes were wide and hopeful. I looked onto their little sheet. Underneath their stats was a hastily written – “no longer wanted.” I burst into tears. I wanted them, but we didn’t have room for two more big dogs, even lovely husband and wife dogs like this. They were well mannered, very polite, not jumping at the bars or barking for attention like the other dogs in the kennel, desperate for someone to notice them and love them and maybe take them home. The Husband and Wife dogs sat quietly, paws underneath them. If they had hands, they’d be folded. “No longer wanted.” I turned around to leave and the Husband dog stood up because a gentleman always stands up when a lady is about to leave him. I felt their eyes follow me as I walked out through the steel door and just before it shut, I saw him curl up against his wife dog, warming her on the concrete floor, nuzzling her, as if to say, “Don’t worry dear, maybe the next person to come through that door will want us.”
I hate this. I am sickened by the sight of so many animals who are abandoned and wind up in shelters, hoping to be rescued. There is a scary corridor at the shelter, like a dog death row, where the dogs who have bit people or are dangerous to other dogs are kept. There is a high turnover rate because dogs like that are never adopted and the shelters cannot keep up with their numbers. You walk by them and the dogs are angry! Mad at you, mad at their irresponsible owners, mad at themselves, mad because they know they will soon be killed. I want to talk to them even though they might be dangerous. I want to pick up a telephone and talk to them on the other side of a glass partition. I want to hold my hand up to the glass and have them put their paw on it. I wish I had the space and the money and the time to take them all home.
We did find a little one. There are way too many of those too. Because Chihuahuas are so ‘chic’, and girls wanting to emulate Paris Hilton or Britney Spears get them thinking they are fashion accessories or ‘toys’ discard them as soon as they realize that these fragile creatures are not toys at all but living beings that they don’t want to deal with. The shelters are full of tiny ones needing a real home, not a fashion shoot. They are not models! They are dogs!
We need to go back next week to pick up our new addition.* She’s just a baby, and she needs to be there for a while longer, but thankfully, not too much longer. I wish I could take them all home. For now, I can only fit them all in my heart, where they will stay. Stay! Good dog.