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Published December 22, 2009

Somewhere around 9/2/09 it dawned on me the rain is pouring on my head and I’m getting cold.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was actually raining but it was just the realization that my unemployment had run out the past week and if I want to keep on the lights to type this and use the internet, I better figure something out real quick.

So I called Fred at the Ct ASPCA, who I’d volunteered for many times before.

Refresh your memories-

http://www.funnyordie.com/blog/posts/1468

It just so happens Fred needs help because he’s having a major dog adoption event in Plainville, Ct starting 9/10. $9/hr. Forget OT.

I had no idea what I was signing up for- electricity or not.

Normally when Fred runs these events a bunch of volunteers from places like Paulding County, Ga. come up a day before with 250 ‘death row inmates’.

These are great dogs, many puppies, who because rural Bible-belt-gospel-singin’-Jesus-freakin’-George- Bush-votin’ fucking IDIOTS can’t spay or neuter their animals (more like live stock to them) and are six feet from a needle (they might think it a biscuit).

Some of these Deliverance types may BBQ them- who knows. Feed them? The ribs that exude make me think of Ethiopia.

Yet the dogs are resilient.

Just getting them up here is a challenge because you can’t stop once you load them- it’s an 18 hour non-stop with no ‘attendant service’ in a box truck. For whatever reason, the volunteers weren’t along- the ‘inmates’ were waiting for a Governors’ reprieve that wasn’t coming- and Fred had to do it himself, albeit a week early.

A few minor problems-

For zoning purposes, his shelter is only supposed to have 30 dogs.

250 for a week make enough noise to make The Who go deaf.

I’d start each day taking the puppies out of their crates and moving them to pens that were in the corner of the yard. There were two and sometimes three to a crate; trying to get one puppy out after it’d been in there for hours- without the other getting free- in the dark- was a combination of juggler and David Copperfield. And their tiny claws scratch, like what you get when you dive into a rose bush. I couldn’t find and gloves that I could handle their fragile bodies and took each bloodied mark with pride. I could envision my dog Purple Heart.

I quickly became a friend of a dog I called Houdini.

You could tell that Houdini was smart. Just look in his eyes. He was this big cow dog.


 Moo! Where’s Buttermilk?

When you’d open his cage, he’d give you an “I’m too stupid and big to run” look. But like a Velociraptor in Jurassic Park, he was actually plotting his move and--Bam-- as soon as his inch of space presented itself, he’d blast off and we’d have to scream “LOOSE DOG” so we could corral him. He’d scamper through the yard encouraging his cell mates, who’d bark a “How’d ya do that?’.

 Houdini’s earliest ancestor

 

We started setting up the tent on Wednesday. It’s hot and I have to constantly make sure the dogs have enough cool water. By now, they all know me. Except one named Rita who, because of abuse, won’t let me get near her. She only let females. Another project.

 

The downside-

Fred likes dogs more than people. I don’t blame him sometimes.

The ugly-

Incident #1 happens on Friday. A couple with a 5 year old boy is looking at a puppy. The guy was kind of big and I could see he had a bunch of tattoos, but I’ve never judged a potential adoptee by body art. Sex partners yes, dog people no. The little boy is really cute, reminding me of Jonathan Lipnicki from Jerry McGuire.
 

 “Hey God, can I have a dog?”

 

He keeps looking at me saying “Can I have this dog?”. I keep deferring to the parents, telling him it’s not my decision. Finally they decide yes. When they tell him that, his eyes light up like Cindy Lou Who’s. It reminds me of how I reacted when I got my first dog (Posey, RIP) for Christmas at 8. I start to tear up. After biting my lip from joy, it’s decided the father has to go home to get a check to cover the adoption fee. As we can’t hold dogs- it’s strictly first come/first served, so Mom and child have to hang out by the pen and fend off any would be adopters.

When the father gets back an hour later, I see him and Fred talking by the cage. There are some angry words exchanged and all of the sudden; the mother whisks Jonathan away while he screams “But My DOG!!”

It turns out they had a dog that was hit by a car. That’s a no-no. Fred figures if you can’t keep control of your dog and fence them in/get an electric fence, you’re not a proper home. I lobbied to change his mind to no avail.

 

Through Saturday, I start at 5 A.M.; feeding, watering, cleaning cages and walking.

 

Except for #2.

A woman comes in with two kids. Like a used car salesman I walk her around, trying to push ‘lemons’ like Rita. I was pretty successful. Getting a pair of 3 year old brother/sister combo from Puerto Rico to go as a package to another family.

Fred tells her she has to come back with her husband.

He does and they pick out ‘Sophie’. A nice Irish Setter mix with a great attitude.

Then I see this poor 8 year old crying.

“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”

“We can’t take her.”

I rush over to Fred and question him.

“They have an unspayed cat”.

“Sophie would get along with cats”.

“It doesn’t matter. If they don’t spay, they aren’t getting a dog”.

So I look her in her eyes, as tears the size of basketballs are streaming down. I use a Kleenex to wipe them.

“Sweetheart, don’t worry. It wasn’t meant to be. Sophie will get a nice home. It may not be with you but she’ll be happy”.

The tears stopped. This 8 year old understood without me going into details as to why.

 

Despite these obstacles, I had a 95% ‘hit rate'- if I dealt with you, you left with a dog. That was my job- and calling.

 

 

 

When the smoke cleared, I’d worked 108 hours of a possible 172. I sacrificed sleep, food and a few beers for dogs. And electricity. I don’t care so much about that because 250 dogs have loving homes and the current never says “I love you” with a lick.

 

And Grizz, after being there all that time--working with mutts of every age and varieyt--I did not see one sign of disgust.
 
Maybe they just appreciated the fact they were getting a new lease on life and were being taken care of. Maybe they knew if they misbehaved I could threaten to send them back to the executioner in rural Georgia.

But I don’t think so.

They are simply man’s best friend.

They’re certainly mine.

Having another 250 friends I may not see again is cool (they suck at text messaging almost as much as I do and rarely Facebook).

No matter whether they write me from their new digs or not, I know they’re happy and will bring joy to their new family.

I cannot ask any more than that and the personal satisfaction I get is worth every bead of sweat and cuts on my arms.

I just wish I could bill them for bacitracin.

And Rita went to a nice same sex female couple. They can have kids, so why not Rita? Male postmen beware.

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