Good Karma (a rescue story)
It was a dark and stormy night... no seriously, it actually was. A big storm front had moved through the area that night with lots of rain, lightning, and even some tornado warnings. Steph (my fiance) and I were on our way home from having dinner at my parent's house across town. It was right around midnight when we got off the interstate and I almost immediately had to hit my brakes. Prancing through the intersection with no fear at all is a beautiful German Shepherd. I turn the car around instantly and find the dog about a half a block down the street. I pull over and get out of the car and she comes right over to me. I squat down to greet her and extend my hand in friendship. She responds by curling up between my thighs and starts licking my face. I fall in love instantly.
She's soaking wet and completely filthy. Her coat is matted and she has clumps of dirt stuck to the fur on her belly. She's wearing a collar, but has no tags. She's coming home with me for sure, but I'm not letting her in the house without a bath. At midnight on a Sunday, the 24 hr drug store is about the only thing open. We get her some food and doggy shampoo and head for home. While Steph sits in the car with her, I go into the garage to fashion a length of rope into a makeshift leash. We go for a brief walk and then go inside and straight into the bathtub. I did have to pick her up to get her in the bath and she did try to climb out a few times, but all in all it was a successful bonding experience. Once she was clean and dry I felt much better about giving her free roam of the house. And then the reality started to set in.
As Steph and I start talking, we quickly come to grips with the fact that this dog belongs to someone else. There is probably a little kid at home crying somewhere because his/her dog escaped. We try not to get attached and decide that we have to do everything we can to get her home. I have my reservations about this of course. Given the amount of dirt that came off of her I know she has been outside for a lot longer than a night or even a few days. And the fact that she got out on that particular night tells me that someone left her out in the storm and she probably got spooked by the thunder. Who could leave a dog out when there are tornado warnings in effect? But putting my doubts aside, I set out into the world of cyberspace to hopefully reunite a broken family.
My first google search brings me to a site called fidofinder.com. I post a found dog ad there. Next, I head to craigslist and put a few posts there. Then, onto facebook just in case a friend of a friend of a friend lost a dog. Lastly, I called the county animal services and file a found dog report with them. I know very little about this dog, and am wondering how I can confirm her ownership. I intentionally leave my posts as vague as possible, knowing that someone might try to pretend to be her owner just to get a free German Shepherd. I include a picture and the specific location that I found her, but I leave out her gender and the details about her collar. In the back of my mind I'm really hoping that no one responds to my efforts. The next day I take her to petsmart to get scanned for a microchip, which of course she doesn't have. But the girl there did notice that the dog had painted toenails. Another clue that I can use to verify her owner and a good indication that someone will definitely be looking for her.
Now its just a waiting game. I'm checking my email every 2 minutes. I'm hoping my phone doesn't ring. The more time I spend with this sweet girl, the harder its going to be for me to let her go. I'm trying to rationalize not giving her back in anyway that I can think of. Turns out, I didn't have to wait long. That afternoon, her owner found my craigslist ad. He confirmed everything immediately. Female, pink collar, pink toenails, he works a block away from where I found her, and her name is "Cookie." C'mon, Cookie? Seriously? This dog is totally not a Cookie, although she is a total sweetheart. We make arrangements for one of his staff to pick her up from me, as he is taking his kid to a sporting event that night. When the lady arrives, Cookie goes nuts. Cookie is so happy and so excited to see/smell a familiar family member. Even though I really wanted to keep her, I can now see that shes going to a place where she is happy. To me, that's all that matters.
After giving her back, Steph and I talk about adopting a different dog. We start looking for adoption events and checking out rescue wesites, but eventually we decide that maybe we should wait until we are a little more settled. We still have things to accomplish and places to see The last thing that we would ever want to do is have a dog and not be able to give it the love and attention it needs. For the time being, we gave up on our doggy dreams.
(Fast forward two weeks)
Its a Saturday morning, and Steph and I are sleeping in as we like to do on the weekends. Around 10 AM I awake to the sound of the doorbell. I'm not expecting anyone, and I think to myself that if this is someone trying to bring me to Jesus, I just might forget the fact that I was brought up with good Christian values and punch them in the face for ruining my lazy morning. I open the door and there is a guy there that I don't recognize, but in his car is a dog that I know well. It's Cookie! He's a bigger guy, looks kinda rough in a blue collar/tough guy kinda way. He goes on to tell me that the dog is living in a scrap yard (which is why she was so filthy) and no one there is taking care of her. He and the secretary (who picked her up two weeks earlier) are the only ones there that try to take care of her and they aren't there on the weekends. He tells me that she needs a good home and a loving family. He would be happy to take her, but he already has 2 dogs and his wife won't let him have any more. He asks me if I would be willing to take her in.
My heart says YES!!! but I ask him, "what about the owner?" I certainly don't want to be accused of stealing someones dog. He tells me that he talked to the owner's wife, and she doesn't want the dog and that its ok for him to find Cookie a new home. I decide that's good enough for now. As I walk up to the car, Cookie is looking at me curiously. I give her my hand to sniff and she immediately gets really excited and I can tell shes happy to see me again. We get her out of the car and I bring her back into my home. I still had the owner's email address from the craigslist ad, and I wanted to let him know where she was. I told him that someone brought her to me and asked me to take her in. I told him that she has a safe and loving home here with us. That was over a week ago now, and I haven't heard anything back. She's part of my family now, and I'm not letting her go this time.
Aside from a little submissive urination, she seems to be relatively housebroken. But she is otherwise untrained. She didn't even really respond to her name. Steph and I saw this as a good opportunity to give her a more appropriate name. We wanted something fitting for her personality. Something that could balance strength and toughness with love and femininity. We spent a whole day thinking of names, looking them up online, thinking of our favorite characters from books and movies and tv shows. Meanwhile, we kept talking about what good karma it was that we got her back. I could have kept her the first time (and really wanted to), but I tried to do the right thing in getting her back to her people. Finally Steph shouted out, "What about 'Karma' for a name?" I said I love it, and Karma seems to love it too.
Karma, Steph, and I have been having a blast together. Walking and playing and learning tricks and teaching her the rules of the house. She's learning very quickly, seems to be in good health (although I think shes a little skinny), and she has already learned her new name. After a day or two of reinforcing the name "Karma," she already responds to it better than she ever did to "Cookie." We are looking forward to getting her to the vet, some obedience training, and I'm hoping I can get her into playing frisbee for fun and good exercise.
Two's company, but three is a family. And we're now one big happy family.
Phlip, Steph & Karma