Happy Adoption Day, Emmy Lou
For those of you who have read More or Less Church over time I often slip in a reference to my EpiscoPup Miss Emmy Lou Depue. I wanted you all to know that on January 31, 2008 Miss Emily Louise Depue will have been under my roof and care for five years now, making her a sassy adolescent of between 6 and 6 1/2 years old.
I remember the day I saw her face on Petfinder.com. A mix of Rhodesian Ridgeback and Smooth Fox Terrier (opposite ends of the size spectrum, incidentally) with a tail of German Shepherd thrown in, her face told the story of neglect and intolerance. She was dumped in front of a dog pound in Georgia (with her new liter of pups who did not make it). One of the volunteers there saw something in "Emily" and rescued her. Looking at her photo I saw those sienna brown eyes and was a goner. After a succession of cats - one stray, one given to rescue her from an over-eager retriever and two adopted myself - I wanted a dog. It took weeks before I actually got her.
"Emily" was relayed to upstate New York from Georgia by a group of people opposed to killing 'unwanted', mild tempered dogs. While she was en route I filled out an exceedingly long adoption application, which asked for references, the type of housing the pet would have, what the neighborhood was like, how long would the dog be left alone, who was responsible for care, feeding and maintenance, etc. The topper was that I needed a vet's reference. Lucky for the prior animals I had a clean rap sheet, otherwise I would have been out in the cold on that one.
In anticipation before picking her up I went to one of the pet supply chains and spent an inordinate amount of money on every item I had been instructed to buy: bowls, food, collar, leash, grooming supplies, treats, toys and a medium large crate with fitting mat.
At 5 p.m. of that fateful day I faced city rush hour traffic and drove over 3 hours in driving snow, peering frantically and often at the handwritten directions Inge, who used her home as a foster half-way house, had dictated over the phone two nights before. The drive seemed interminable and precarious on the slick winding roads that led finally to an out of the way enclave in upstate NY. My car climbed the steep drive and I parked, winded. all the while giving myself a pep talk about looking presentable an responsible.
Before getting to the door there were howls and barks which escalated when I rang the doorbell. Inge, a rather tall, solid 60-something rectangular woman of Nordic descent was not impressed with my timing:she had expected me 10 minutes earlier. Strike one.
"Come up, come up now" she commanded and I fell right in line with all the dogs who had come to the door to sniff and greet me. "Sit down" were her next words and I looked around for somewhere to sit. Her huge ranch bi-level home with hardwood floors contained at least five dozen visible crates, most with open doors, their occupants lying happily within, a few lying on a small rug near one of only 3 lights in the massive great room. Ah, there's the couch. A corgi slid off as Inge approached and we sat down together.
"May I see identification....please?". Yes, certainly. I produced my drivers licence and she tried to see the resemblance in the dim light. There must have been a match, because she handed back the card and said "Fynt Emily". Inge was that true dog lover who spent her considerable money and love on animals; she wasn't what you would call chat friendly, though.
My eyes swept the room for a sign of that dog whose eyes had captured my heart. I found her within about two minutes. Emily was toward the back of her crate, thinner than I recalled. I knelt about three feet from the front of the crate and called quietly 'Emily'..?.. and waited.
Two wheaten red paws with black nails appeared, then the tip of a black nose busily gathering information. 'Emily..'? I tried again softly. Her hound wheaten nose and those sienna brown eyes appeared with head, ears down and back, her eyes averting mine. Slowly she inched out, low to the floor, tail tucked under her legs submissively, but wagging ever so slightly at the end. I sat down slowly cross legged about 3 feet away, folded my fingers under and sat perfectly still while Emily crept closer for more information. I fell in love with this dog and had forgotten the silent, vigilant Inge had been keenly observing the entire interaction.
"Vy DISH von?" she asked with a trace of curiosity in her voice.
"Her eyes. She has seen a lot and not been loved enough -- I think I can remedy that."
"I tink you can too. She does not come out to me so. Von more tesht." Inge retrieved a collar and long leash; several dogs became animated, hoping a walk was in the future. Inge simply make a sound like KISHT and they stopped. None were agitated or angry. It just wasn't their turn and #1 had let them know.
Inga bent limberly at the waist with the grace of a ballerina to gently put on Emily's collar and attached the leash, handing the other end to me.
"You get up Now -- not so slow ant go ofer to deh coach". Was this the dog's test or mine? No matter, I got up much less gracefully, pausing to balance myself. As quickly as I could and walked around a partition to the couch area. Emily walked behind me, keeping some distance.
"Sit and call deh name and bring deh leazsh to you." I did and Emily came, looking at me once then quickly looking to the side. I wasn't pulling the leash any more and still the sweet dog came toward me, her tail wagging more. She stopped about two feet away.
"Dis is a good ting. Dis is your dok. Sign deh papers ant leaf a teposit off von hondred doalars. In two days you muzt coal me. In von veek she muzt be spayt. I make deh appoingment vid deh fet ahfter deh coal." I signed, handed over the cash, got a receipt and it was a done deal. "Eef dis dosh not vork ot, she comes beck, your money comes beck." OK.
She turned to the pack and said "Say koot bye to Hemily" and dogs appeared from everywhere- NOT barking, simply bumping into her and sniffing us both. We made our goodbyes, Inge reminded me to call in exactly two days and out the front door went my dog and me. The snow was about three inches deep now and Emily was startled. This Georgia dog had not seen snow in her estimated 18 months of life and this was new news.
Per Inge's directions I put Emily in the fleece lined crate by lifting her up and in, closing the door, covering the crate with a blanket and shutting the hatch.
OK, Emily, we're off, old girl. There was a slight whimper in the aft, but that was about the extent of her protest. She needed a new name I thought on the journey home, but nothing radically different. A southern gal, she needed a southern name. Hmmmm.
During the next two days it was apparent her second name would be Louise, after my sister's middle name..those of you know that you get the two named treatment when a parent-type believes you have done something wrong. It turns out that Miss Emily would try to give me the same "Who? Innocent me??" look my sister would try, looking like the cat who ate the canary. So Emily Louise it was, Emmy Lou for short.
She has brought me so much comfort and humor and love over these five years I wonder where the time has gone.
If you or your family decide to take on the responsibility and joy of a pet, I urge you to visit Petfinder.com or a local shelter for an animal who - like us humans - deserves another chance. Mixed breeds tend to have fewer health problems. Do your research and try to match the dogs nature, needs and size to your lifestyle. While puppies are cute, consider a youngster as well or, for a less active adult human, a less active adult dog.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
One last thing in this rather long entry - a favor to ask all of you furry loving Farmers out there. This is pretty simple. The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute Just to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals' for free. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.