Monday, November 24, 2008

Lucky Number 7

I know I'm doing this post a little bit early, but I hope to not be working on November 30 so....Happy Birthday Emily! She'll turn seven years old, which is considered a senior for a dog. We are still awaiting her AARP card.

I would usually put up some cute new picture of Emily, but this one I think it symbolic for the story I want to tell this year. It's her photo.

I adopted Emily in early December 2005. She was four years old at the time (if her papers are right), and I am forever grateful to the staff at the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees for helping me find Emily -- or I should say for letting me come back again and again to look at their dogs before finding Emily. You can read my "how I found Emily" story here.

I think they do an amazing job with the animals they have, so last week, I dropped off sheets and toys to the shelter, and looked at the dogs they have avaialble.

Now, Emily is quite a dog. She loves people and, after meeting you, will jump up to kiss you. But one of the reasons she was in a shelter was because she does not get along with other dogs. At all. As much as I would like a second dog, I would be dealing with hellfire from the current dog in my house.

So why I went back to the dog rooms, I don't know -- probably because I just like dogs.

What I saw was heartbreaking: dogs of all breeds and sizes just sitting and waiting for someone to give them a forever home. Tyson, a fox terrier, reminded me a lot of Emily, not just in his face, but in his manner. He was quick to come over and say hello, but after that, curled himself up in a ball and just shook as the other dogs around him barked and howled. I left the shelter crying. Oh, how I wanted to take him home.

But on the drive back, I thought of how Emily was when I found her. She was in the puppy room at first because she was so small -- an alarming eight pounds (she's now 14 pounds). The stress of being in the shelter stopped her from eating. Then, when she moved into the adult dog area, she would just stay curled up in her blankets and shake. I cried then, too, and took her home.

My three years with Emily haven't always been easy. Yesterday she would not stop barking at a cat outside the window, and I was tempted to give her the heave ho, but I know I never would. She's a great dog for someone like me who works from home -- she's far from lazy and needs exercise, and she forces me to get out of my chair and go. She can be left alone for a while if I have to travel, but it's more fun to take her with me. We had a great time in Cape May in September -- and even though I didn't take pictures, I can still see her in my mind when she took her first swim, her little tail acting like a rotor as she paddled.

She's starting to slow down. It's not so obvious to other people, but I can tell. She doesn't want to get up in the morning, and she takes a mid-morning nap. She's still as quick to dark after squirrels, but she seems to enjoy sitting on my lap while I work more now than she ever did before.

I hope that my gal will live to her maximum life expectancy, but there's a cloud over her background, and I don't know what stress and conditions she was exposed to in the four years before I had her. She's missing part of her nose and tail, so I'm guessing it wasn't good.

When I came home from the shetler, Emily was waiting, tail waging. It's amazing how far she's come in three years, from that scared, little, underweight dog who cautiously followed me around the apartment and, when I wasn't paying attention, made beds in my sweatshirts, to the fine lady she is today. Looking at that picture makes me sad -- it shows her at her leanest -- but it's a good reminder for me that even though I can't save every dog, I did save one, and that she's the perfect fit for me.

So, with that, I'll leave with you a video my mom took of Emily this weekend. That toy is her absolute favorite, and I have finally trained her not to squeak it when I don't want her to. I also hope that this post serves as a reminder of the importance of looking in shelters before you buy a dog. They make unbelievable pets and, if such things matter, you can find pure breeds.

And if you have any pictures of your pup at the shore and would like to see them on the blog, send 'em in! I'm at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Digg this


Bridget said...

What a great little recap of Emily's life. It is heartbreaking to think of all the other dogs who are still in the same position she was when you came to her rescue. It can be very challenging to take in a shelter dog, but that just makes it all the more rewarding when you have your "doggy breakthroughs." A big happy birthday to Emily from me!

CRCHAIR said...

What a cute video of Emily. Thanks for sharing.