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Saving Shelter Dogs

Updated on July 29, 2011
Truman in relaxed mode.
Truman in relaxed mode.

I had found a new friend while desperately searching for an old one who had somehow slipped through an untended gate. My roommates and I like to think that “Burnsy” has found a happy temporary-forever home (until we find him again!) This all happened two years ago and in more melancholy moments we wonder if he is not being silly on the storied Rainbow Bridge as he greets new arrivals to animal heaven just as he enjoyed being the house greeter when not chewing our furniture. With a patchwork mix of colors, gangly legs, one pointed ear, one floppy ear, one blue eye, and one brown eye; He was once best described as “being put together with the left over parts of other dogs” and he liked to destroy our property. We miss him.

I like to think we took all measures to find our friend and those included daily trips to the County Humane Society. I would begin with “the book.” It was a compilation of the furry victims who had not made it to the tenuous existence of animal jail. Once I had assured myself there was still a chance; I would walk the cages, peering into each face staring through the bars, being barked at for my troubles, or worse, stared at vacantly by the forlorn occupants within.

To mentally steel myself I remained focused on finding our guy. Despite my best efforts, the presence of these “other” scared and scarred pups imprinted themselves on my subconscious. After about six weeks I was touring the cages one day when I stopped in front of Truman. Of course, he wasn’t Truman at that point, at that point he was L79372 (or whatever). He lay sprawled in his cage on his belly, face pointed away from me. When he noticed me he cast a long look at me over his shoulder as his tongue lolled to the side. After a bit he just laid his head back down. He was huge and the hairiest dog I had ever seen. Glancing at his “Rap Sheet” pinned to the cage I noted that he was a Great Pyrenees and his “day” was up the next day.

Finding a shelter worker, whose badge identified him, amusingly, as “Timmy!”, and telling him of my interest, I was informed that they were not sure he could walk as he had been disinclined, previously, to make the effort. My interest now tinged with concern, I asked "Timmy!" to try and we moved him from his cage to the “outside” play area.

It was painful to watch.

His four legs were, variously, splayed out in seven different directions as he was more pulled and dragged then anything else through the building. It didn’t look encouraging. My first thought was, “the buck stops here,” regarding this dog’s attitude about moving when he didn’t want to! About twenty minutes later we were still dragging his 120-pounds of surly recalcitrance across the smooth concrete floor when another shelter employee loudly proclaimed, “The Buck Stops here, huh?” It was at that moment that Truman became Truman although I recall thinking I would have preferred the guy’s help with moving the dog rather than naming him as I pushed from behind and “Timmy!” pulled from the front.

Continued exertions eventually found the three of us panting by the door to the outside. As soon as it opened Truman got up and ran out. “Timmy!” And I exchanged wry looks.

“Well I guess he can walk,” “Timmy!” noted blandly.

“Ya think?” I deadpanned back.

After a bit I asked if I could have him. I was told no. Not until the next day. Additionally, before I selected him, “Timmy!” recommended that I go home and research the breed before making a choice. It was good advice.

My research indicated that, as a breed, Great Pyrenees tend to eat a lot, shed a lot, run away a lot, bark a lot, and were generally not for the feint of heart. My room mates agreed, we had to bring him home because he simply seemed to have too much personality to be bound in such a small space. As it turned out, my earlier research was correct, he is a handful.

Each day since has been a joy that I do not regret for a minute!

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