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Posts Tagged ‘Pets’

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at th...

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at the Paws and More No Kill Animal Shelter in Washington, Iowa. I took this picture. This looks just like my dog Yuma. He was from a shelter in Evanston Il. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toby’s 30 hour journey has a good ending. After losing sleep and not being able to justify to ourselves that we had made the right decision for Toby and were not just completely selfish, we called the Cincinnati SPCA on Sunday afternoon and asked if we could get our dog back. We talked to them why we came to the shelter in the first place. We expressed our concern that he would not get adopted and be put down. As much as we want him to have a good home, we are not willing to take the chance with his life that he will not.

My mother told my wife after we had dropped Toby off on Saturday that he was one of God’s creatures and Toby was in His hands now. Though this offered some solace to her, it did not to me. What is God wanted for Toby to have a good home and we were it. Were we giving up too soon on training this dog to be better? After all, when we picked up Wolfie from the Knoxville Animal Shelter nearly 20 years ago, we gave a larger donation to get free basic obedience training classes. She became a wonderful dog, even in the small apartment we had at the time. She still chewed and did things, but we loved her.

It was a race against the clock to get to the shelter before 5 pm. It took them some time to find him, worrying us that he had snapped at someone and they hadn’t updated the computer. The animal handler came back empty handed once and my heart sank. She left again to search a different area. In a few minutes she returned and asked if this was the dog. It was.

Toby sniffed around the waiting area and then saw us. He was overjoyed at our return. He smelled like the shelter. A bath was in his future when we got home. He is back with his toys. He has already peed again in the house. Snuggles has stopped her wondering all over the house looking for him and is now sleeping. Her tail again wages.

The next few days will be very telling. We know we must work harder to train Toby to be the dog he can be. It will take work and discipline. The kids will need to understand what having a puppy means. The dogs they knew growing up were well passed that stage. They’ve never experienced not being able to ignore a dog for too long. The journey will be bumpy, but it will be fun. And should the need ever arise where we must give away a dog? We will make every effort to never take a dog to a shelter.

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A few months before my wife and I were to marry, a stray dog showed up around my parent’s house. They were living and working at Johnson Bible College then and I was commuting to the University of Tennessee. I walked my future wife to her dorm (she was a Johnson student) and the dog followed me around.

Surely this stray dog belong to someone in the community. After all, Johnson had a fence around most of the land, cattle were still kept in those days. I made a sign and placed it at the local Kimberlin Heights Post Office. I had people I know ask in the local schools. No one claimed her. Against perhaps better judgement, I kept the dog.

Sandy was an outside dog and a free spirit. We kept her chained up and I tried to walk her every day. The yellow lab that lived the next hill over would come by nearly daily to play. Things were good.

As my wife and I looked for a place to live, one theme kept repeating: no dogs. Some places did allow dogs, with a small weight limit. Also, Sandy was not an inside dog. She could not live in an apartment, even if she was under the weight limit. Finally one day we had to do what we didn’t want. We had to take her to the pound. We made a good donation to help pay for her keep. I can still see her face when we left. I never knew what became of her.

On that day I swore I’d never take another dog to the pound that I had kept for so long. It would be one thing to take a dog that was wondering the streets or try to find an owner. But not one we had kept for months.

Today, I broke that promise. I broke that promise to a little dog named Toby. A stray the kids said they want to keep. A stray that they grew to not like. A stray that never seemed to get fully house broken. One that would be nice and then snap at someone. A dog that would be chewing his toy, then go and grab a figurine of my daughter’s or a model of my son’s or, as was the last stray, a hardback book of my wife’s.

He last day with us was full of the things he would keep doing. I found him under the bed happily chewing a book, though he had a new toy. He peed in the house before we left, though he had been let out not two hours before. Fragments of his rope chew toy were all over the living room. Pieces of my son’s superball were under chairs. The carpet padding he pulled out where everywhere. He got into my son’s comforter again and pulled out more stuffing. It was a typical day.

He took him to the Hamilton County SPCA. He peed in the parking lot, but didn’t bark or pull when other dogs barked at him. He behaved so well in the office and just looked at us when he went into the cage. All those thoughts of Sandy flooded back to me and the forgotten promise rang through my head like a bell. I couldn’t believe I had to do this again. Was I just throwing his life away on convenience or was the right thing? I didn’t know. I still don’t know.

As before, we made a good donation. We tried to tell them he was good and needed a home. We cried, more than once. I still cry. Oh Toby, be a good doggie and find that 9 year old who needs you to play fetch. Please forgive us for taking you to the most terrible place. Please live out a happy life for a long time. Please Toby, please.

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