How A Dog Picks You As Their Person
Bagel the Beagle - On the Road
Once upon a time in a town in Indiana there lived a puppy named Bagel. Bagel was a Beagle. Bagel was very curious as beagles are prone to be and she was found wandering the streets of that small town in Indiana by a dog officer. She was brought into the pound. As is the case in a lot of mid-western towns, this town did not have any control over the dog or cat population. There were always a lot of stray dogs and cats and the dog officers were kept very busy.
When a dog is found wandering, they place it in a shelter for a designated amount of days. If no one claims the dog within the timeframe set, then the dog is killed. These places got the name and reputation of “Kill Shelters” and even when a dog is perfectly healthy, well behaved and adoptable, they will be put down. Pounds just don't have the staff to handle the influx of animals found.
Our Bagel was found at one of these shelters by the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, Massachusetts. The NEAS is a shelter that never kills an animal. They have a program that is called "Homeless Animals Across America" and they come into the kill shelters and take all of the dogs and cats out and bring them by plane, bus or car to their shelter in Salem, Massachusetts.
Bagel's Shelter Photos
Wags, Waggles and Us
This is where our real story begins.
Ken and I had a dog we got as a puppy from the NEAS back in December of 1996.
Ken thought it would be great for our daughter’s to grow up with a dog. So, he convinced me to get them a puppy. “All kids should grow up with a puppy,” he said. I fought it as hard as I could because I knew that puppies take a lot of time, work and that dogs don’t live long enough for me to NOT be deeply hurt when they die. I get very emotionally attached to a dog. I, ultimately, lost the battle and on a cold December night, we went to the NEAS to pick out a puppy.
There tucked in a wired crate, in with the kittens, was a puppy that was part cocker spaniel and part a multitude of other dogs. He was about 10 weeks old. He was an adorable puppy.
Our family decided on this puppy, whose shelter name was Jason. I said, “Jason is a good name for a boy but not a puppy.” So, on the way home with the puppy, the family spent the entire ride home trying to decide what to name him.
Once they got him home, they sat on the kitchen floor playing with him and his whole body seemed to have a wag. I, jokingly, suggested Waggles Von Thurstonburg the Third as a name. That was shot down immediately. One daughter wanted to name him Waggles and the other thought that was a “stupid” name and said that we should just call him Wags. He ended up answering to either name.
Wags lived for 13 ½ years and was a "voting" member of the family, meaning that nothing was done without taking into account how it would affect Wags.
The whole family was devastated when he died.
Wags First Walk
No More Dogs
Ken and I mutually decided that there would be no other dogs in our lives. Ken wanted to be free to travel and not have to worry about what to do with the dog. I wholeheartedly agreed…
Once Wags was not there to greet us upon returning home from work or out doing errands, it was quite a different story. The house was so quiet and lonely. The silence was deafening and I did not want to even go into the house that I loved so much. It was too painful.
Once again, we found ourselves lured to the Northeast Animal Shelter, now located in a larger facility and with more dogs and cats available for adoption. Ken told me that I should check it out before we hauled ourselves up to the shelter. If they had nothing that interested us, it would be a colossal waste of time and effort. Sure, that worked, he wanted me to find nothing and that would have ended our search.
Our two daughters, now grown up and living independently away from us, had two opposite opinions on whether we should get another dog or not. Our oldest daughter thought it was too soon and that we didn’t give enough time to mourn the loss of Wags. The youngest was completely with them even though she now resides in California, 3,000 miles away. In the end, the decision was not theirs to make, it was ours, but they both love “their” Bagel.
So, I went up and checked out the shelter in the morning and I wanted to bring every single puppy, whether young or old, home with me. I went through the puppy section and decided that, although really adorable, I didn’t want a puppy. I felt it would be too much to start training a puppy and with no small children to wear the puppy out the puppy would wear us out. And besides that, I wanted a dog that perhaps no one else would have wanted. I wandered into the adult dog section and saw a lot of dogs that would need a good home.
Dogs, Dogs and More Dogs
Ken came home from work and we went on a journey.
When we got to NEAS, we were greeted at the door. The person that I had spoken with in the morning was not there but she had left word that we would be coming in at night and they knew all about Ken and me, and our very recent loss.
They told us to go and look at the dogs. Ken was glad that I did not want a puppy. They told us that we could pick out a dog and then bring them the information card that they put in a pouch on the crate that the dog is in, fill out an application and then they would bring the dog in to visit with us for a short while to decide if that was the one for us. Or as we say, were we the one the dog chooses as his/her people?
After looking at all the dogs, we went back to relook at them. We decided to see a Boston Terrier mix dog. We were led to a room, about 9 x 9 with a door on it that opened in the middle, so that the door to the room could be closed but the top would open if necessary. That way, the shelter staff could see the interaction between adopters and adoptees, or parents and doggy kids.
On the way to the room, Ken looked out in the yard where a beagle was playing with a family. She was running and playing and Ken said that perhaps we could look at that beagle. I knew that beagles were hard to deal with and I had never even considered the beagle known as Bagel. I just shrugged it off at the time.
Ken really wanted to look at her. So, he asked the adoption consultant if we could spend a little time with Bagel. She said that we had already picked three cards and should see them first.
First up was the terrier mix. When the consultant brought him in the room and shut the door, the dog started bouncing off the walls and floor and ceiling. Ricochet Rabbit came to mind. As we watched the bouncing dog, Ken looked at me and said, “I really don’t think that this dog will fit our lifestyle, Lisa” “We are couch potatoes and this dog is beyond hyper.” I wholeheartedly agreed.
Next up was an extremely cute little dog but she was afraid of everyone and we spent the whole time trying to coax her over to us. She was just not going to budge. We could not make her comfortable in the short amount of time we had with her.
Then there was a totally blind dog who was about a year old. She was a special needs dog and I was wanting a dog that no one else wanted so I thought she might be the one. We found out that there was no operation they could do to restore the animal’s sight. I asked specifically about that particular dog because, although it would be a lot of work, I really wanted to save a dog. However, when the dog growled at Ken, I knew that that one was not going to work out, either.
There were a few other dogs that we saw as the dogs were paraded by the door.
All Roads Lead Us To Bagel
Come Home, Little Bagel
Finally, Ken asked if we could see the beagle he had seen out in the play area with another family. The other family were looking at this little beagle and Ken thought she was cute. I had not wanted a beagle for various reasons. Number one reason was that they are thieves.
We were waiting and finally the door opened and in marched a little, 13 inch, from the floor up, Beagle. She proceeded right over to Ken, sat at his feet, looked up at him and batted her little eyes at him. She had him hooked.
When the people at the NEAS wanted to bring in another dog for Ken and I to look at, Ken was not willing to let Bagel go. Once you released the dog, others would be able to see her and opt to adopt her. He wanted “that one” so the decision was made right then.
Next was the paperwork, there were forms that needed to be filled out and the counselor that Ken and I worked with wanted to take Bagel back to the crate. Bagel would not go with her.
She loved Ken and me almost immediately, in fact, it was immediately as she went straight to Ken and batted her eyelashes at him first thing. The counselor had to physically pick Bagel up and take her back to the cage. We saw a look from her that was so sad, as she looked back at us from the arms of the counselor. It was like she would never see those people (us) she liked again. We were sad to see her go even though we knew that we would be reunited again, and very soon.
So, Bagel back in her crate, and we were filling out paperwork for the adoption along with closing time of the NEAS, it became a race to the finish.
Once all the paperwork was completed, the shelter staff brought Bagel back out. She was so happy to see “her new people” that she jumped straight up in the air. She attained a height of about 4 feet.
While we were at the agency, we asked about and bought a crate with a bed and toys for our newest family member, Bagel. They had no crates in boxes so they offered the one that was already set up and we took it. We put Bagel in the crate on the way home and nary a sound was made by the dog.
We had every intention of changing her name, but she seemed to respond to it, somewhat, so we decided to keep it.
It is, I believe, of utmost importance that when anyone adopts a dog or puppy, they make it a point to spend as much time as possible with the dog for at least the first month.
It is scary for a dog who has been tossed about from shelter to shelter. If you take on the responsibility of caring for a “pound puppy” then you must let them get to know you and you must get to know them.
Our Bagel was very mischievous when she first became one of our family. It was like she was acting out because she felt insecure about whether she would end up in another shelter. It was as if she thought we would "get rid of her" and, of course, we are lifers with her. But, if we had left her crated for hours on end, she would not have calmed down and become a well behaved member of our family. It took a long time for her to trust us and feel safe. She now knows that we are her “forever family” and even though we knew it from the beginning of our relationship, she had to be able to see it, feel it and trust in us.
If you are in tune with your pup/dog, you will see leaps and bounds of trust coming your way.
Think of it as if you were suddenly abandoned on an Island of strangers who didn’t speak your language. You would be confused and probably cause some disturbances that were not tolerated by the strangers’ society. You would be considered unruly and if they put you in a cage, you would not understand why. So, if the strangers had taken the time to get to know you and find a way to communicate with you and you were a willing participant, think how much less time it would take to develop understanding. I feel it is the same way with animals.