Sometimes A Happy Ending Just Takes A Little Time




Fawn was huddled in her kennel, wrapped in blankets and a little sweater. Her skin was patchy and dry. She tucked her little nose under her legs and kept a wary eye on the gate, ears cocked to any approaching sounds. She had been in the kennel for months, and could distinguish between the normal day-to-day and the unusual visitor. The first she would ignore, occasionally dismissing passersby with a squeaky growl. But anyone who stopped and lingered was discouraged. She would stand up and growl, bark and snap. It was all a show — she loved to be held. But after months of poking and prodding, she was a little leery of the hands reaching for her.

It was mid-December. Fawn had spent the last four months in that kennel. She came in at the end of August, a stray Chihuahua caught by animal control. Soon afterward, she tested positive for a skin condition. She was quarantined to keep the other animals safe, and suffered one bout of skin infections after another. She was scraped, dipped, rubbed and given pills to swallow. Each treatment yielded brief success, followed by another infection. Her allergies weren’t helping. She was contagious, uncomfortable, and unadoptable. She was running out of time.

We had made several inquiries, both locally and out of town, hoping for a foster home where she could continue treatment without the stress of being in the shelter. There had been a few responders, but none were willing to expose themselves or their animals to her infection. She had nowhere to go. Her condition was treatable, but we worried that continuing to do so would put the other shelter animals at risk. And months of confinement were doing nothing for her attitude — she was mistrustful and withdrawn.

It was the holiday season, and none of us were quite ready to give up on Fawn. She was in the middle of a treatment, and we decided to give it one more shot. If this one didn’t work, or if the infections came back, we decided that Fawn would have to be euthanized. And then something amazing happened. Fawn got better.

A day went by. A week. Then two weeks. No skin infections. She was still dry and itchy from allergies, still a little crabby about leaving her kennel, but her tests came back negative. We decided that what she really needed was to be a dog again, instead of a patient. She had spent enough time in that kennel. What she needed was interaction, both with people and with dogs. We were working with another dog at the same time — Taco, a small Corgi mix who didn’t like to be touched. He spent most mornings in the lobby learning to trust people as we went about our jobs. We figured he and Fawn would be well matched in the mistrust department, and little Fawn was brought to the lobby.

Taco didn’t much care for other dogs. And neither did Fawn. She was much smaller, and we worried that Taco might pick on her. Much to our surprise, they hit it off. Several days later, Fawn was bowing and darting around the lobby, trying to get Taco to play. Both dogs decided that watching the other get attention was too much to bear, and they would compete for time in employees’ laps. Fawn loved being held, and would paw at our legs to be picked up. But new people were still a challenge. Fawn would still snarl and snap at visitors, especially men. She was no longer sick, but we thought she still needed a lot of time and patience before she would be adopted. We anticipated many more mornings in the lobby with Fawn.

A couple of weeks later, a gentleman walked in our doors, looking for a dog. He was a biker, and looked the part. His arms were covered in faded tattoos, his face and hands rough and weather beaten, a long, white beard hung over his leather jacket and he wore heavy boots. All sorts of stereotypes were running through my mind when I asked what kind of dog he was looking for. And I would never have guessed the response. “I’m looking for a Chihuahua,” he said. I began to tell him about our other Chihuahuas. But he hadn’t come to meet them. He had come to meet Fawn.

After a quick discussion of her fear of men, a suggestion to take things slowly, and a warning to watch his fingers, I brought them both into a side room for a meeting. As I expected, Fawn was frightened. Who was this large, scary man? What would he do to her? She barked, she growled, she nipped at his fingers, she ran away. Through it all, his patience was amazing. He never chided her or raised his voice. He simply sat still and waited. Having other work to do, I left them both alone to get acquainted — a large, rough man in a leather jacket and a tiny, pudgy Chihuahua in a pink sweater.

Time went by. Every so often, I’d peek into the room. After 15 minutes, no progress. She paced the room with her tail tucked to her belly. He sat calmly. But two hours later, I looked in to a surprise. Little Fawn was sitting happily in his lap, as he petted her gently. When he stood, she hopped down and followed him. “This makes me really happy,” I told him. “You are incredibly patient.” Turned out that he had lost his Chihuahua of 17 years, and now that he was ready for another dog, he knew that Fawn was the one. “Whatever it takes,” he said.

His wife came to the shelter after work to make sure that she and Fawn would hit it off as well. They did, and we finished the adoption that afternoon. “You are a lucky little dog,” I said to Fawn as she pranced out the door. She didn’t look back. She made it.

To find the perfect pet for your household, visit the shelter at 605 W. Wilson Court; open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed Sunday.


Red is a sweet, 1-year-old Chow/Shepherd mix. He was found as a stray in Forest Lakes. He was a little nervous when he first got here, but we found that getting him a dog buddy really helped bring him out of his shell. He can still be a little shy at times, but he warms up quickly. Red seems to be more comfortable and confident around other dogs and may do best in a home with another dog.


Bubba is a 1-year-old Border Collie/Heeler mix. He is an extremely smart dog who would excel at agility training. He is very active and will need plenty of exercise and training to keep him busy. Bubba is good with other dogs that are playful and outgoing. He would do best in a home that has older children. He already knows some basic commands and is eager to learn much more.


Manly is a 6-year-old pug mix. This goofy guy came in as a stray, believe it or not. He is very playful and looks super adorable with his tongue always hanging out of his mouth. Manly loves toys and will play catch with you. Manly seems to get along best with men, which is why we called him Manly. He likes other dogs and loves to play. He would do best with another dog that is friendly and tolerant.


Bootsie is an outgoing girl. She has been here at the shelter for a few months now and we’re really not sure why. She is a gorgeous girl with amazing green eyes, and a fun personality to match. Bootsie is  outgoing, affectionate and playful. She would prefer to be the only pet in the home, that way she can have all of your attention.


Caramel Apple is a petite little girl. She is about 9 months old and is still playful and outgoing. She loves people and is friendly with other cats that are easygoing. Caramel Apple is an absolute sweetheart and will lay on your back if you are curled up on your stomach.


Moo is an easygoing girl who adores people. She gets along well with other cats and tends to just keep to herself. She gets excited when people come into the cat house and will come out to make sure she gets her share of pets and scratches.


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