Adopting The Best Attitude

, , , | Hopeless | September 20, 2017

(One of my favorite parts of my job is when our adoptable cats from the local shelter get new homes and I get to see a happy family take home their new furry friend. The shelter we work with often has special holiday adoption fees; one of them is $14 for Valentine’s Day. The weekend of Valentine’s Day, a mom and her son, who I’d peg between seven and nine years old, come in to adopt a cat they’ve been visiting in the store for a week. The shelter volunteer runs the paperwork and gets everything set. Then…)

Volunteer: “Okay, that’ll be fourteen dollars please!”

Son: “I wanna pay for it!”

([Volunteer] and I watch as the little boy digs around in his pockets, pulling out crumpled $1s and $5s until he has enough, and hands the pile to [Volunteer].)

Son: *proudly* “I saved my allowance for two weeks to be able to adopt her!”

(I have tears in my eyes, and I can see [Volunteer] does too as she takes the small pile of crumpled bills and smooths them out. The little boy’s mother is absolutely beaming at her son.)

Volunteer: “All right, it looks like you’re all set—”

Son: “Oh, wait a sec!” *digs in his pocket, pulls out another $1 bill and hands it to [Volunteer]* “I saved up an extra dollar to donate to the rest of the animals.”

(I couldn’t believe how sweet and mature this little boy was. On their way out I told his mother she should be very proud of her son, and she assured me she was. I know that kitty went to a very loving home, and I hope that little boy stays this sweet and kind his whole life!)

Calling On The Spider Phone

, , , , | Right | September 19, 2017

(The shopping plaza our store is in also has a pet store. Because of this, the manager allows customers to bring in their pets. It’s an otherwise boring afternoon when I get this call…)

Me: “Kitchens.”

Caller: *sounds like a grade-school age kid* “Um, hello, I was in your store earlier and I, um, I think I lost my pet tarantula in your department.”

Me: “Pet… tarantula?”

Caller: “Yes, I bought him from the pet store, and he crawled out of his cage in your store.”

(I decide to play along. That pet store doesn’t carry tarantulas.)

Me: “Okay, I’ll look for him. Can I have your number so I can call you back when I find him?”

Caller: *panics* “No, I don’t want him anymore!”

Me: “Oooh, then can I keep him? I’ve always wanted a pet tarantula.”

Caller: *click*

The Puppy Is Cat-ching On

, , , | Hopeless | September 18, 2017

One of my friends works for the local vet’s office. It’s a small town with no animal shelter, so if strays are found, the vet will usually take them for a few days until they can find the owner, or place them in a home. My friend knew we’d lost our dog a few months before, and called me up one day to say that they’d just been brought a litter of stray puppies that they needed to find homes for, and if my family wanted one, she’d bring one over that night.

My family talked it over, and even though we weren’t really ready to move on from our other dog’s death, we knew the vet’s office would have trouble finding homes for a full litter of puppies and didn’t have the room to take care of them, and decided it was better for us to take one. So, that night, my friend brought over a tiny golden retriever puppy.

She’d warned us that the puppies they’d found were too young to be away from the mother, which is part of why they were so worried about being able to find good homes for them, but we hadn’t realized just how young they were until she showed up. We fed and cleaned the puppy and made a bed for her where she’d be warm, but the poor thing was clearly stressed out, and started crying as soon as we walked away. We were worried that we’d have to stay up with her all night, when our rather elderly male cats, who’d been very curious about the new arrival, decided to step in.

After sniffing her and touching noses, both of our cats decided that this tiny little thing was probably some kind of strange kitten, and it was their job to take care of her. They curled up on either side of her and started grooming her, and the puppy immediately stopped crying, and snuggled in. My dad had set an alarm to remind him to get up and feed her, but shortly before the alarm went off, one of the cats came and woke him up. For the week or so after that, the cats continued to let us know when the puppy needed to be fed or taken outside, until she was old enough to eat solid food and let us know herself.

As the puppy grew up, the cats continued to take care of her. They taught her how to go up and down stairs, how to find the best spots to nap in the sun, that she should stay away from the road, to come when the humans called her, how to groom herself, and where the treats were kept. The puppy never did get the hang of climbing trees, but she’s surprisingly adept at stalking mice and chipmunks!

The cats were a bonded pair, and they died within a few months of each other when the puppy was three. A few years later, she found our kitten, and happily carried on what her foster parents had started, cuddling and comforting the new arrival and teaching her all the important things. So, our dog thinks she’s a cat. Our cat thinks she’s a dog. Our animals may be a little confused, but they all get along beautifully, and no one seems to mind when the new kitten plays fetch!

Shepherd My Shepherd

, , , , | Hopeless | September 14, 2017

(I’m a bit of an insomniac, so I go for a walk at about half past midnight in my favorite lakefront park. I live in a quiet, residential neighborhood, and it’s not unusual for people to let their dogs off the leash if the park is empty and the dog is well-trained, so I’m not too concerned to see a German shepherd run by. What does concern me is that the dog is limping badly and whimpering. Worried, I walk over to the only other person in the park, a guy with a pair of year-old huskies, in the direction the dog had come from.)

Me: “Excuse me, but is that German shepherd yours? He’s limping pretty badly; I think he may have stepped on a piece of glass or something.”

(The guy looks up and notices the dog, and I see his eyes go wide.)

Guy: “Oh, s***. No, he’s not mine, but I know whose he is, and he’s definitely not supposed to be out here alone. He’s only seven months old.”

(Alarmed, we both head over to the German shepherd, and he lets me grab his collar after sniffing my hand. I find the broken-off clip from a leash.)

Me: “He must have snapped his leash or something. Do you have your phone, so we can call the family? I left mine on the charger.”

(The guy shakes his head, and with nothing else we can really do, we both wait with the dog. I have one hand on his collar, and the other petting him, trying to keep him calm. About five minutes later, a young girl, maybe 13 or 14, runs up, sobbing hysterically.)

Girl: “Oh, God, you found him! Is he okay? He broke his leash and r-ran out into the street, and he got hit by a car, and I didn’t know if he was d-dead, and I couldn’t find him! A-and my sister’s still at home, but I don’t have any way of getting him back there, and I can’t leave him here and-and oh, God, I don’t know what to d-do!”

Guy: “It’s okay. He’s hurt; he’s limping pretty badly, but he’s breathing okay.”

Me: “Run home and get your sister, and tell her to bring the car. We’ll stay here and make sure he’s okay.”

Girl: “Oh, God, are you sure? Th-thank you! Thank you so much!”

(She pets the shepherd and lets him sniff her, then goes tearing off down the street. The guy glances back at one of the apartment complexes bordering the park.)

Guy: “If I run and get my phone, can you keep an eye on the huskies for a minute?”

(I agree, so he carefully shuts both of his dogs in the park tennis court and sprints for the nearest building. He’s back less than three minutes later with his phone and his sister. She immediately takes charge of their huskies, and he starts Googling the nearest 24-hour animal ER. Throughout all of this, I’ve been petting and murmuring to the injured shepherd, trying to keep him calm, and he’s been so, so good. He’s clearly in pain and scared, but he doesn’t growl or snap once, just huddles as close to me as he can get. Finally, about ten minutes later, the young girl comes back.)

Girl: “My sister’s bringing the car, she’ll be here in a couple minutes. I can’t thank you guys enough for this.”

Guy: “Of course. I knew this guy wasn’t supposed to be out here alone; I wasn’t going to just leave him.”

Me: “God, of course. If my dog was hurt, I’d hope someone would help her until I could get there.”

(The girl hugs us both, and clears the garbage cans away from the park path so her sister can back straight into the park, traffic laws be d***ed. A minute later, her sister arrives, backing as close to us as she can get, before jumping out of the car to check on her dog.)

Sister: “How is he?”

Me: “His breathing’s okay, but his leg looks pretty bad, and he’s definitely in pain. The sooner you can get him to the vet, the better.”

Guy: “Here’s the address for the nearest emergency vet; it’s eleven minutes away. I already called, so they’ll be ready to x-ray him as soon as you arrive.”

Sister: “Oh, God, thank you. Thank you for staying with him.”

(We carefully lifted the dog into the backseat, and both sisters hugged us again before peeling out. I’d never met any of them before that night, and I haven’t seen them since, but I very much hope that they and their beautiful dog are okay! That night reminded me of something I heard a while back: in any crisis or disaster, look for the people helping.)

Can’t Put This Dog Off Your Scent

, , , , | Friendly | September 13, 2017

(My dog and I volunteer at a rest home, and when we visit, he wears a special scarf. After our visit one day, we walk to a nearby supermarket. I tie him up outside. He’s still wearing his scarf.)

Man: “Oh, what a lovely dog. Can I pat him?”

Me: “Of course you can!”

(I smile and start to walk into the store. The man calls out:)

Man: “Hey! You’re allowed to take your guide dog into the supermarket with you; otherwise, how will you see?”

Me: “Oh… I’m not blind. He’s not a guide dog. He’s a companion dog. We visit at the rest home down the road there.”

Man: “Yes, but you’re still allowed to take guide dogs into the supermarket. You can take him in with you.”

Me: “Um… yes, you can take guide dogs in, but the thing is, he’s not a guide dog, and I’m not blind. I’m pretty sure the supermarket staff would have something to say about it if I took him in.”

Man: “That’s appalling! They can’t do that; it’s illegal. You’re allowed to take your guide dog into the supermarket. You go on in and take him with you! I’ll be right here, and if they give you any trouble they’ll hear about it from me!”

(Not knowing what else to do, I reach down and remove my dog’s scarf. I hold it up and say:)

Me: “This says ‘Canine Friends Pet Therapy.’ It’s a red scarf. Do you think I’d know that if I were blind?”

Man: “Well, they won’t let you take him in now. You should have left his scarf on!”

(Off he strolled, leaving me quite stunned and speechless. I’ve made sure to remove my dog’s scarf as soon as we leave the rest home from then on!)

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