Thursday, August 25, 2016


Lucky in his new home
After Scout died at the end of last year, Nan started volunteering at the Savannah animal shelter. She said it was a tribute to Scout, but we both knew that she also missed the close contact. There were dogs she interacted with at the shelter and became fond of but none that she felt compelled to rescue. The Savannah shelter has many volunteers and is actively focused on getting animals adopted as quickly as possible. Most of the dogs Nan walked were adopted in just a few weeks.

When we moved to Artesia, New Mexico in May for a contract IT position I accepted with the local hospital, Nan started volunteering at the animal shelter here. Things were a little different. For one, she was the only volunteer, and if she did not show up to walk the dogs, then they often would not get to go outside at all that day. Dogs were occasionally adopted, but the marketing effort that went into it was minimal. Many dogs were deemed unadoptable and summarily euthanized.

There was one dog, named Lucky by the shelter staff, who had been picked up as a stray in April. He had no tags, no chip, and no one coming to claim him. He had been in the shelter for over a month before Nan arrived. More than any of the other dogs, Lucky wanted to go outside. He would rush his kennel gate as soon as Nan unlatched it, then dash to the back door, opening it by hitting the panic bar at full speed. Outside in the yard, he would mark every available surface and poop up against the fence before finding a toy for Nan to throw in a frantic game of fetch. He seemed to know that he had only a few minutes, and he tried to make the most of it. If Nan had run water into the kiddie pool, Lucky would jump in to cool off and pretend to swim while lying on his side in the shallow water. Getting him on a leash to take him back inside was a frustrating game of keep-away.

Lucky enjoying a nice day outside
About a month ago, after he had been at the shelter for almost three months, Nan told me that Lucky had been put on the list to be euthanized. She was beginning to develop a bond with him and was saddened at the idea that he would be put down in less than a week. She asked me if I would go to the shelter to meet Lucky, with the idea that if the two of us hit it off, we could consider an adoption. Nan had showed me a photo of Lucky on the shelter's Facebook page and he looked like a nice enough dog: a mutt, of course, maybe two years old, with symmetrical brown patches over each eye and ear, a white body except for a large brown spot on his left side, and the look of a very large Jack Russell terrier, though at sixty pounds, he may have been a Labrador retriever and boxer mix.

Being more used to mellow golden retrievers like our beloved Scout, I was a little put off by Lucky's frenetic energy at our first meeting. He seemed completely uncontrollable out in the yard, but he mellowed when back in his kennel, eyeing me watchfully as I read the information page clipped to the wire mesh gate. There was a large "E" written on the page in black Sharpie, and I knew what it meant. Nan had gone off to speak with the shelter people, so I stood and looked at Lucky through the gate. He sat on his haunches and looked steadily back at me. Both of us seemed to be thinking the same thing: Are you the one?

That was more than a month ago. It should be no surprise that we adopted Lucky, rescuing him from his certain fate. Despite a frightful first night, he has adapted well and settled into a calm, predictable routine, filled with walks, play and affection. He still has his excitable moments, especially when it comes to going outside, but he has endeared himself to us as only a sweet-natured dog is capable. We love him and look forward to a long life together.