Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DOGGIE RESCUE 911: Adopt Your New Best Friend

Adopt Your New Best Friend

Truth be told, I've not
been much of a "dog
person" since losing
my beloved Sheltie,
Duchess, back in '76.

Throughout my adult life, I'd viewed dogs as being public nuisances and personal nemeses. To me, dogs were little more than offensive-smelling, flea-bitten, ever-needy, slobbering terrorists that held the lives of my various girlfriends hostage  preventing them (and me) from experiencing even one fun-filled all-nighter. Oh, BTW Chris, we have to leave the Led Zeppelin reunion concert early tonight, 'cuz I've gotta be home to let Sparky out by 10:30. Okay? ARGH!

I first recall the feeling of my anti-dog "shell" being chipped away in 2011. That year I found myself on an extended "couch tour" at Merissa's  a close friend who shared a cozy Florida apartment with her musician boyfriend, Sam and her shaggy white "rescue" dog, Riley. While Merissa and Sam slept upstairs, I spent several of those winter nights staying up late and watching Fox News, with Riley snuggled-up close to me under a comfy ol' blankie — as I was REALLY into Ann Coulter and he was seemingly a HUGE Sean Hannity fan. And a lifelong bond was formed. CHIP!

I was deeply saddened to learn that my
old friend, Riley, had passed away recently.
Catch ya later, pal. CHIP!
Navigating through life now with a slightly enhanced puppy perspective, I traveled to Nicaragua on my first missionary trip in 2012. Although I was still hardly a "dog person," I found the rampant, real life examples of canine cruelty in that country to be shocking and absolutely sickening — images so graphic, I can't even share any of my photos here. CHIP!

My high school friend, Robyn, relocated from Georgia back to our old Florida neighborhood in 2013 with her rescue dog, an older brown Lab named Rocco. By the time I began visiting Robyn's pristine beachside palace in 2014, she'd rescued doggie #2, a 10-year-old blond Lab named Boomer. The stories that Robyn revealed, regarding the lives of abuse from which Rocco and Boomer had been rescued were heartbreaking, even for a non-"dog person" like me.

Abbott and Costello. Laurel and Hardy.
Rocco and Boomer.
Rocco and Boomer proved to be totally chill, and they scored immediate high marks with me for only pooping outside. Yes, we all three became fast friends, and in no time, I might have begun taking frequent surprise breaks from O'Reilly Factor re-broadcasts while hanging out at Robyn's in order to prepare delicious late-night snacks for my new pals long after she'd gone to bed. FYI, they're both kinda partial to bacon and eggs at 1am. CHIP! CHIP! 

In addition to bacon and eggs, Rocco
is also a bit partial to cheesecake!
This past summer, Robyn rescued her third dog  a "spirited" younger black Lab named Beasley. Be sure that it's ill-advised for anyone to attempt taking away Beasley's squeaky toy — ever. But doggonit, the second he (finally) tires of tug o' war for the day, Beasley is the first to hop onto the couch with his head buried in your lap — virtually comatose throughout the entire nightly Fox News line-up  until it's time for bacon and eggs at 1am, of course. CHIP!

Black Labs matter. Blond Labs matter.
Recently, Robyn's heart was broken by an online story that she'd read about a blond Lab named Alan who was being held at a local "doggie detention" center. At age 11, Alan was perceived as being "too old" to be "desirable." Robyn thought otherwise, and within hours, he'd been "sprung." Welcome to your new beachside home, doggie #4!

Just three weeks ago, Alan was serving out a
"death row" sentence at a "pup penitentiary."
He'd been picked up by local authorities
after being discarded on the side of the road

in Palm Bay, Florida -- like yesterday's trash.
Sad and sickly-looking, Alan was severely
underweight. And at age 11, he was perceived
as "too old" -- 
his future appeared hopeless.
And just look at him now! Alan currently
enjoys "preferred member" status -- 
a pampered life of luxury at "Aunt" Robyn's.
Alan has become my newest "best pal."
And it's heartbreaking for me to consider
how his story would have played out
-- had Robyn not rescued him in time.
Then there's my longtime buddy, Devon, who lives down the street. I frequently see Devon in the morning while walking his ever-faithful canine crew — including his 12-year-old Great Dane, Zoey. What I find particularly amusing about observing this pooch parade is that Zoey is the size of a small SUV. Hence, it often looks as if she's the walker, and that Devon is the walkie! But what's heartwarming about watching Devon struggle to keep up is the fact that Zoey is also a "rescue dog" he adopted ten years ago from the Dane Rescue in Malabar, Florida.

ZOEY: A Day in the (saved) life of a "rescue!"
So what's this "rescue" jazz all about? Well, it's my general understanding that back in the olden days, unwanted, abandoned and abused dogs were relegated to facilities known as "the pound." But in today's kinder and gentler world, "the pound" is referred to in a more compassionate-sounding way — terms like "rescue missions" and "animal agencies." Look, you can "church it up" all you like, but the bottom line in my mind is that "agencies" are merely "doggie detentions" — facilities that house lovable little pups of all ages  temporarily. Temporarily? Hey, what if nobody adopts "Sparky?" Uh, do the math, dude.

It's not my intention to shame, guilt or condemn anyone for where they get their dogs. ALL dogs deserve good homes. I merely want to remind my readers that there are incredible options when it comes to picking out a pooch — options other than the neighborhood pet store. And I encourage anyone who's considering  adding a new "family member" to first Google "dog rescue" for their local area.

Me and Duchess, back in '75.
(We were both 13 at the time.)
I've now learned first-hand that the wonderful personal relationships we share with our four-legged friends are unique, honest and pure. Our dogs don't lie to us, they don't judge us and they make excellent couch companions for Monday Night Football. In short, they just want to give and receive unconditional love.

That was really a "close one," Alan.
I'm SO glad we're friends!
These days, I start each morning with my daily Bible study at my local Starbucks, around 5:00. By 7:00, I usually stop off at Robyn's to bring her a hot, fresh coffee and to help feed her growing pack of hungry hounds. And sometimes I'm still there at 9:00, playing ball in her backyard with Alan which is really weird, 'cuz like I said, I'm not much of a "dog person."

-Christopher Long
(November 2015)

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