Stories don’t wag at the end, but dogs do. (Part two)

As I mentioned before, I DID try to find a home for the latest dog who adopted me–but no takers. They already had animals and felt that a puppy might be more readily accepted by the current canine and feline residents. I could tell this girlie was young–about 17 or 18 months as it turns out–but she did not LOOK like a puppy at all. She looked like a mostly starved big ‘ole dirty dog. But a pretty one.

When the other little German Shepherd showed up in 2010, being a puppy, Victoria, Thad and I all fell in love. We were home for Spring Break, so she really DID hang around and run and romp and play. Tony’s mantra over the three days she was here was, “DO NOT NAME THAT DOG!!! Do NOT name that dog.” That is why I was a little taken aback when one day Victoria (also an avowed dog-disliker) said, “Zoe did thus and such and I had to help her.”
I said, “Did you just call that dog Zoe?”
“Um. . . .no?”
“Yes you did. You called that dog Zoe.”
(frantically pleading) “Don’t tell Daddy!!!”

So, this dog wasn’t with us that long, and I had no thoughts of naming her. I just wanted to get her somewhere she’d be fed and brushed and wormed and de-flea’d. The only other option was the SPCA disaster rescue that was set up in the city of Waller. They were, reportedly, closing at 5:00 p.m. on a particular Thursday. She showed up at 5:30 a.m. the day before. We were in a time crunch.

I left AS SOON AS school was over that Thursday to get home, get her, and haul her the 20 miles into town. She was too big to pick up and put into the back of Tony’s truck, and she had NO desire to hop up in there herself. I think she might have suspected something. I FINALLY managed to load her into the cab (of Tony’s beloved, beloved pick-up) and squeeze my way into the other door.

Let me state right now that love dogs though I do, I am highly allergic. So this (dirty) girl and I were in some very close quarters on a rather hot day. Sneezing, however, was the least of my worries. I was not quite sure how she would handle the stress of the ride, and didn’t really relish the thought of having my throat ripped open by a freaked out dog. Turns out she was scared to death and just cowered when I started the truck. . .and she cowered atop ME. So. Sneezing–not a big deal. Throat and blood supply–intact. Now I had to figure out how to drive a 5 speed stick shift truck with a very large dog in my lap.

I managed to get her OUT of my lap (which was pretty full of steering wheel already) but she leaned on my right shoulder for the next five miles. I would shove her over, and she’d move right back. Lather, rinse, repeat. Eventually, she settled as close to me on the seat as she could. I put my right arm over her shoulders and rested my hand on the gear shift. Thus we made our way, quietly except for the occasional sneeze from me, to the shelter.

As I drove with this dog beside me, I decided right then and there that if I EVER have cause or opportunity to get a dog, I think it will be a female German Shepherd. There are too many indicators pointing me in that direction. I was scared of the breed most of my life. Hal and Sissy were both bitten by German Shepherds when we were kids. Both episodes were males, and both times they were protecting a child they THOUGHT was in danger. I know they are fiercely protective–the females even more-so than the males–but living in the middle of nowhere, I now find that to be an asset.

The miles rolled beneath the tires of the truck, and the sun shone, and I thought about this lovely, lovely animal next to me. She deserved a home full of love with a big yard and a pond–or at the very least a wading pool. I could give her none of that right now, but I COULD give her a name.

And so I did.

I named her Bella. Beautiful. Zoe means life. Bella means beautiful. I think Victoria and I have done pretty well in the naming department.

I would love to tell you that when I dropped her off at the shelter, she was welcomed with open arms. It wasn’t quite that easy. Turns out they quit accepting animals at 4:00, and it was two minutes ’til 5:00. The curmudgeonly County Animal Control Officer (who was THE BOW-LEGGEDEST man I had EVER seen, and also only had three fingers on his right hand as I was to find out when I shook it later) was in NO MOOD to deal with either her or me. I can’t blame him. He is the ONLY County Animal Control Officer employed by Waller, and he had found himself in the middle of one unadulterated mess. At one point he grumbled, “This is what happens when you have a bunch of volunteers and no plan.” To which I replied, “Well, sir, no one PLANNED for half the woods to burn down either.” He stopped, looked at me, and said, “Well, yer bygod right about that, ma’am.” After that he settled down quite a bit.

He really COULDN’T take her as all the computers were packed up and there was no way to enter her into the system that afternoon so her possible owner could find her if they were looking. He decided he would take a photo of her, get my information and come to pick her up from my house the next day. He said he knew RIGHT where I lived as a lot of animals get dumped on our road. (And they do. And both he and I thought Bella was one of them based on how thin she was.) I managed to roll the window of the truck down while keeping the dog in so he could get a good shot.

When he pulled his camera out, Bella’s ears perked right up, and he liked that. “You’re a smart one aren’t you girl?” Then to me, “She is a BEAUTIFUL animal isn’t she?” And she is–thus the name. Before too long, he had someone bring him a lead. He took her out of the truck–I thought to get a better photo. His wife walked over and he explained about the dog and the confusion then said he’d take her that evening and enter her in the system the next day–I had taken my time and gas to get her there the right way with the information I’d been given even though it was incorrect.

As I drove away, Mr. Bandy-Legged Curmudgeon was sitting on an ice chest under a shade tree petting that dog who was also seated and thumping her tail against the ground for all she was worth. They both looked pretty happy about the arrangement. I read on facebook the next week a total of all the animals that had been taken to the SPCA of Houston from the fire rescue and were now up for adoption. And also a tidbit stating that the County Animal Control Agent would be on vacation for the next two weeks, so no pick-ups of animals would be made.

I never saw Bella’s photo on any website. I don’t think she made it into “the system.” I kind of like to think that she spent the next two weeks getting her belly fattened and her ears-scratched by a new three-fingered, bow-legged owner. At least, that’s what I hope.

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