What New Year’s Day is all about: new hope. New life. The chance to begin again. On any day, but especially after a long, cold winter or a life of darkness.
By Surf Dog Mom Barb Ayers
I remember that shelter dog smell. Total opposite of the intoxicating puppy smell you expect from a young, adoptable doxie. Shelter smell hit me hard in doggie jail and clung to every dog inside.
Despite the smell, and the scary place with gritty eroded walls and floors and stink of shelter bleach and poo and old bad things that used to happen in dark rooms, he had those eyes.
Down at the end of the long, dark jail cell aisle, up on the right, a light, shining bright. Glistening eyes from the dinky doxie. I love you, bust me outta here eyes that were so hopeful in a place that was anything but.
Glistening eyes guys’ first name was Mighty- and it suited him.
Those eyes seemed completely out of place, in the dark, in a chain link cage on chipped concrete floors, amidst deafening chaos of barking dogs, whose eyes weren’t the least bit hopeful.
That long dark aisle of doggie hell, and the smell, made my heart stand still, and my stomach nearly puke. The smell of fear or lost hope or something hard to wipe away, was what I remember most.
The dog catcher passed me with a new inmate. A cage door screeched shut. I know the shelter folks were trying to help these dogs, but there are so many more dogs than families.
The six month old doxie was just a puppy and his chances were better than most. I felt guilty about that. I was here to save a life.
I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about me but I knew the moment I saw him, that he was the dog for me, for us. Mighty had something extra, like maybe 50 extra pounds hiding inside his 12 pound frame. He wore trust and pride in his big bold chest, in this place that wears you down.
Perhaps his little 2 inch legs were secretly expandable. He seemed tall, stood tall. He had attitude, self respect. Most of all, hope. He was listed as a doxie pug but he looked more like a Chiweenie, or a chicken McNugget, a sweet little soul that had never loved and lost. Only a kid, here he was, homeless, and still the cutest little peanut on Earth.
Glistening eyes met mine. Maybe we were two souls in the wrong place at the right time, like some Zen surf dog cross roads of the universe between the ones we were and the ones we are meant to be.
This is what New Year’s Day is all about. New hope. New life. The chance to begin again. On any day, but especially after a long, cold winter or a life of darkness.
Mighty’s hopefulness in a death row cell, was a beacon of hope for all dogs and all people, every broken heart around the world.
We were searching shelters for our 4th generation Surf Dog Diaries rescued surf hound, a tradition started by my first basset, Howdy Doody, 25 years ago (175 in dog years.) Howdy’s step sons, Dude and Elvis, met the doxie in the shelter’s “howdy” pen.
For our Next Gen surfer and dog blogger, we chose the doxie because of his eyes, and because he is so big, and yet so small. He fits under an airplane seat - a carry-on bag dog - which means, many more adventures lie ahead.
But really, he chose us. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?
We took him home and named him Doodle, after the late great Howdy Doody.
Doodle wore that awful shelter dog smell, his old homeless person’s coat, even after he moved in with us.
That first night, Doodle chased and barked at the doggie in the window- his own reflection in the fireplace glass.
Elvis, who has a bad back, chased Doodle all around the house – it was the first time he’d played like a puppy in years.
Dude liked Doodle for the first 48 hours, until he realized he wasn’t just a visitor, and then he became jealous. And that’s when the shelter dog smell wore off. Four years ago, this month.