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.
Dear Dog Diary:
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 go for hard luck stories.
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.
My dogs and I were searching shelters for our 4th generation rescued dog - turned surfer. It started with basset Howdy, who I adopted in 1991, 27 years ago - 190 in dog years.
Elvis and Dude were my 2nd and 3rd generation surf bassets, who learned to surf from Howdy. Now seniors, t'was time to retire from surfing and show a new kid how.
They met the new doxie in the shelter’s “howdy” pen. How perfect is that?
For our Next Gen surf dog, we chose the doxie because of his eyes, and because he was so big, and yet so small. He'd fit under an airplane seat - the first carry-on bag dog of the family.
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, he chased and barked at the doggie in the window - his reflection in the fireplace glass.
Elvis had a bad back that had really slowed him down.
But that first night, he chased Doodle all around the house. It was the first time he’d played like a puppy in years.
He found new life, too.
Dude liked Doodle for the first 48 hours, until he realized he wasn’t just a visitor. Then he got really jealous - and completely ignored the doxie for another month.
That’s when the shelter dog smell wore off.
Six years ago, this January.
Wishing you light - new life - and love... this New Year!