Corgi and Basset Hound? I see a bit of German Shepherd in there, too. But those ears!
If you haven't yet read Part One and Two, you can find them by scrolling down past this post or clicking on the title or date (April 30, May 1) in the left sidebar.
The Living Free Animal Sanctuary in Idyllwild, California was founded in 1980 by Emily Jo Beard who "created a sanctuary where animals would be safely housed without being caged." The mission of the shelter is to "rescue, rehabilitate and find permanent homes for healthy cats and dogs that were scheduled for shelter euthanasia." For my Cali readers, if you haven't driven up to that beautiful mountain setting to visit Living Free, I strongly recommend doing so—even if you're the sort of sensitive person who becomes upset and/or saddened by visiting traditional animal shelters. Trust me, you'll find nothing of the sort at Living Free, just happy dogs in the kennels and happy cats in the cattery.
In my quest to find a companion who would fit well with me, Thomas, Purrl and Sugar Plum (see previous post), I scrolled through the profiles of the dogs currently available at Living Free and came upon the photo above of "Impala." (I have my suspicions about the name choice; I'll keep them to myself.) This is what his profile said:
Impala is a sweet, loving, happy dog that makes you feel good just to look at him. His soft brown eyes sparkle with intelligence and humor and he is always smiling. He loves people, wants to please and would be a wonderful family dog. He is very agile and can jump up on a chair despite the fact that his legs are very short.
Well, who doesn't want a dog who is "loving, happy" and "is always smiling"? And on my part, ever since little Harper (a Corgi/Sheltie mix) blessed my life (you will recognize her name if you've read The Dogs Who Saved Me), I've wondered if I might be blessed again with a Corgi mix. Add Basset Hound, and that's double blessings. I shot off an email to Edgar, the kennel manager, asking if Impala might still be available and received a response within a day confirming that he was and inviting me to come up the mountain and meet him.
The sanctuary opens daily (except Wednesdays) at 11:00. I was there the next day by 11:20—and by the time I signed in and got up to the kennels, another family had already spent time with Impala. "But they haven't filled out an application yet!" said the enthusiastic volunteer who brought Impala out to meet me, explaining that it was already his second introduction of the day. And did this dog match the description posted about him online? Oh yes, and then some. He was a happy, tail-wagging bundle of dog joy who loved being petted and meeting new people. "He's definitely a favorite," the volunteer told me as he scratched behind the little dog's ears and talked baby talk to him. I loved him at first sight. (The dog, not the volunteer, though he was very nice as well.)
When I asked if I could take Impala for a short walk, however, I was told that there was "some issue with his spine." The volunteer went on to explain that Impala was a "return." He'd been adopted previously at an adoption event, and though the family had kept him for several months, they were now returning him—injured. They couldn't afford his medical care, it seems. The online description of Impala was the one they'd used prior to his first adoption; he could no longer jump up on a chair, and he seemed to be in a considerable amount of pain.
"But the vet is coming on Wednesday and will give him a thorough examination at that time," the volunteer said. "We're giving him pain medication in the meantime, and it seems to be helping."
I decided not to bring Impala home, to wait and see what the vet said. It's not that I was unwilling to take on a dog with medical issues; I just didn't want to make an emotional decision ("But I love him! So it will all be okay!") that wouldn't work with my pack and our lifestyle. Any new dog would need to be able to walk with Thomas in the morning and the evening. I needed confirmation from the vet that this would be possible for this little dog who was short on legs and long on personality.
I did go home and immediately fill out and submit an application online. Then I had to wait three long agonizing days until Wednesday. I thought of him every day, looked at his picture, and hoped. On Wednesday afternoon, I called the direct number they'd given me for the kennel—and Edgar was busy. He returned my call a couple of hours later, but by then I was out walking Thomas. We finally connected the next day, and after a long, detailed conversation during which Edgar listened patiently to my concerns and explained with absolute honesty all of Impala's limitations, I decided not to adopt him. Edgar thanked me for weighing all the factors before making my decision—then told me there was another family who'd just been waiting for me to decline so that they could adopt him. Perfect.
And this is how dog adoption should go. In my mind, the process should be one of matchmaking. The specific personality and behaviors—both good and bad—of the dog should be matched carefully with the needs and lifestyle of the adopter so that when a dog finally does get placed, that home remains his or hers forever. Matching dogs to compatible humans can only be done with patience, communication and understanding. This is how Sgt. Thomas Tibbs came to bless my household, because of the terrific volunteers at Upland Shelter, and I have to applaud Edgar and all the staff and volunteers at Living Free for being equally dedicated to the well-being of each and every dog and cat they rescue and place for adoption.
So: No short-legged Corgi/Hound for me. But hang on... this story isn't over yet....