Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bruno Begins

When our little Chihuahua died we were devastated.  He’d brought us so much happiness and laughter over the years, without him the house just wasn’t the same.  During the grieving process we agreed we’d get another dog, but not for a while, we needed some time.

Surprisingly we both came to the same conclusion independently.  At lunch one day Bernadette turned to me and said: “You know, if another dog came along, I think I’m ready.”  I agreed; I felt the same.  We hadn’t discussed it previously but here we were, four months without a dog and now we were both ready for another.  We already knew we wanted another Chihuahua but we also hoped to rescue a dog, and we wanted a puppy so we could train him.  But it’s almost impossible to find a small rescue dog, much less a purebred pup.  We also knew we had to get the ‘right’ dog.  We weren’t exactly sure who the ‘right’ dog would be, but knew we’d know him when we met him.

So we didn’t search for a dog.  We merely acknowledged our ‘openness’ and allowed events to direct us to the right dog.  One day when I was out I stopped in the local pet shop and inquired about Chihuahua breeders.  They didn’t know anyone except the breeder I’d found online, with pups for sale starting at one-thousand dollars.  On another day, out running errands again, I stopped at our old veterinarian’s.  They didn’t know of any Chihuahua breeders either but if they learned of any adoptable Chihuahuas, they’d let us know.

This was fine.  We’d ‘put the word out’ and we knew, in-time, we’d meet the right dog.  Again, we weren’t searching but, rather, leaving ourselves open to finding ‘the right dog.’

One night I dreamt the ‘right dog’ was a white Chihuahua.

The very same day I’d stopped to talk to the vet, Bernadette saw a post on Facebook from the Yavapai Humane Society.  It said, we have an unusually large number of small dogs ---we don’t get a lot of little dogs--- so come by and adopt one!  “Maybe we should go to the Humane Society tomorrow?” I asked her.

The next day was a blizzard!  Cold and nasty and snowing like crazy with the ugly weather we all avoid if we don’t have to go out.  Over lunch I remembered the Facebook post from the day before.  “Hey, why don’t we go to the Humane Society after lunch?” I asked.  Bernadette didn’t want to go.  Cold feet.  She wasn’t sure.  “It’s really nasty out, let’s skip it.”  She said.

“I’ll tell you what, “I said, “I’ll drive over there, check out what dogs they have and just find out what the costs and procedures are.”

“Oh no, it’s too nasty and you’ll get your car all wet and muddy in their parking lot.”  Bernadette offered, as if to let me off the hook.

The car already needed washing and besides, Yavapai Humane Society is only about two miles away so I went anyway, something was compelling me to go right then.

In the lobby there was a group of helpful volunteers that steered me to the kennels.  I started down the first of four long, concrete hallways lined with cages and what did I find?  In the very first kennel were two little brown Chihuahuas!  There was one scared little boy and a friendlier female.  The female’s teats hung low so I figured she’d had a litter, probably after her very first heat, neither dog looked to be over a year old.  I’d ask about the female after I saw the rest of the dogs.  And I saw them all and it was typically depressing at the ‘dog pound.’  Some dogs were friendly, some were mean and some were just plain scared shitless.  Three hallways later I spied another Chihuahua but he was wearing a cone on his neck and didn’t seem healthy.

I reentered the lobby via the kennel door.

“How many dogs would you like to adopt?” asked the friendly woman behind the desk.

“I dunno, but I think I’d like to meet the little female Chihuahua on the other side of that door.”  I answered, pointing.

“What about that Chihuahua right there?” she asked, pointing to a cage in the lobby.

The little white Chihuahua at the Humane Society

Apparently I’d walked right past that cage when I came in the building, how the heck did I miss that?  I looked in the cage, and what did I find?

A Chihuahua.
A puppy.
And he was WHITE!

“Can I pet him?” I asked.

One of the volunteers took the dog out of the cage.  She wasn’t going to let me hold him but I saw the Purell hand-cleaner on the counter, washed my hands and then she handed the dog to me.

He flattened his little body against my chest and licked my face.

This is the dog!   What the heck?  A  WHITE Chihuahua-puppy-rescue dog!!!  Incredible!

“What’s his story?” I asked

They told me that he’d been a stray, picked up on the street by Animal Control and dropped off at the Humane Society.  He’d served seven-days in ‘doggie jail’ but no one claimed him.  (Here in Arizona people just don’t look for little dogs and cats that run off because they’re usually eaten by coyotes or other predators.  I’d of looked anyway if it were my missing dog, obviously this dog escaped harm.)  When he was not claimed by anyone he went into the Humane Society ‘system’ and began getting his shots, he got a tracking chip and just the day before, he got neutered.  He was ‘not available for adoption.’

Not available for adoption!?  Why?

Bureaucracy, that was all.  The veterinarian had not yet signed off declaring him healthy after his neutering.

“When will the Doc sign off?”  I asked, anxious.

“Later today or tomorrow, or maybe Sunday,” was the answer.

 “OK,” I told them, “I’m going home to get my wife then we’ll be right back.  I want to bring her here to meet this dog.”

Driving home in the continuing low-visibility blizzard, I called Bernadette.  She answered with, “You found a dog.”  It was not a question.

“Yes, I met a little white dog I want you to meet.  I’ll pick you up and bring you here.”  Bernadette was crying.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“As soon as you left I knew you were going to find a dog.  I just brought the dog-crate up from the basement and cleaned it up.” 


I picked her up and we drove back to the Humane Society.  As soon as she held the dog, he did the flat-dog thing against her and that was it.  This was going to be our dog….somehow.

I told the people at the Humane Society, “We want to adopt this dog.  I’ll put down a deposit, or pay for him in full in advance, whatever it takes, I want this dog the moment the veterinarian declares him fit for adoption.”

They wouldn’t take my money.  I gave them my name and number and they said they’d call me first when he was available, I’d get an hour to come claim him or they’d call the next person if the list got longer.  OK, fine.  I’d already decided if I didn’t get a call that afternoon, I’d call first thing the next morning.  We went home.

Fifteen minutes after we got home, Yavapai Humane Society called, that little white Chihuahua was available for adoption!  Mere minutes later we were back at the Humane Society and we adopted him!

Bruno when he first came home. 

We’d gotten rid of all our ‘dog stuff’ when our other dog died.  All we’d kept was the crate and a leash; I figured a new dog would need new stuff.  Besides, if I were a dog, I wouldn’t want some dead dog’s things, I’d want my own.  So, in the midst of a continuing blizzard, I was off to the grocery store for Puppy Chow, treats and some kind of toy.

The next day, after spending over one-hundred dollars, he was fully accessorized with new bowls, his own collar, two new sweaters, and organic dog food (the Humane Society’s coupons didn’t go far!)  We made an appointment for him to get checked out by our vet on Monday.

House-breaking training began about 18 hours after he came home and I’d forgotten how exhausting training a new puppy can be!  We’d kicked around a lot of names and had narrowed in down to either ‘Rocky’ or ‘Bruno.’  He responded to Bruno and that became his name.

And he is wonderful!  He’s a happy dog and he seems genuinely grateful to be with us.  (I think part of our old dog’s soul resides within Bruno.)  I have not laughed so much in months!

Extensive photography has begun; they don’t stay pups for very long!

“Dogs aren’t our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.”

I’d say our lives are now whole, again.

A happy Bruno in his new home with a new toy