Sunday, January 6, 2013


My daughter visited us during her college break. An ardent dog lover, she has never adjusted to our home being dogless since the death some 18 months ago of Kody, our loyal and much beloved Rottweiler.  She worked me over good, and got me to visit the local dog pound.

OK, here begins my education in euphemisms and things politically correct. The "dog pound" is no longer called the "dog pound." It now has the title "Animal Shelter." I also discovered that one no longer "picks up a dog at the pound," one "adopts a family companion."  Here in the snooty very tony piece of Southern California where I temporarily reside, the Animal Shelter, impeccably clean, boasting some beautiful grounds, and staffed by very nice and very earnest volunteers, must conduct a background check to see if you are going to provide a good home.  It certainly seems more intense and thorough than the ones that let Kim Philby and Felix Block through. The Rosenbergs, certainly, would never have gotten close to any atomic secrets. The Soviets would not have gotten the bomb quite so easily had these folks been on duty in the Manhattan Project.

Another thing I learned while at the pound shelter: the dogs and cats there are not "strays," these are "rescue" animals. Now, to me a rescue dog is a giant St. Bernard who digs you out of an avalanche in Zermatt and delivers a little flask of brandy, or a big Alsatian who tackles the kidnappers trying to force you into their van in downtown Karachi, or Lassie saving Timmy from a well. It seems, of course, that now "rescue" has a different meaning. These are dogs and cats that you rescue from whatever fate eventually awaits them at the shelter--this one, by the way, proudly boasts that, unlike the ones run by those phonies at PETA, it is a "no kill" facility.

Anyhow, we walked around the facility, which oddly enough had Wagner booming from speakers throughout the grounds. Kind of eerie, no? The Diplowife noted that if they started playing "Götterdämmerung," we were to run for the car.

We surveyed the inmates, of which there were precious few given that there had been a Christmas adoption rush. I was struck, once again, by the difference between cats and dogs. The cats had a hard non-pleading stare; they seemed to defy you to open the cage. If it were a prison, they would be the lifers, remorseless serial killers with bloodcurdling  tats under their fur. One cat, in particular, had the hardest, meanest stare I have seen on any living being. It was the yellow-eyed stuff of childhood nightmares; I think it would have frightened even Jacques Tourneur.

The dogs, mostly, had pathetic stares of the "why-are-you-doing-this-to-me?" variety. In prison they would have, appropriately enough, played the "bitch." I, however, was struck by one dog: a one-year old, 50 lb. red-brown pitbull mix, who had honey colored eyes, and an arrogant stare that saw right through you. This was her third shelter in her brief life. She must have been around cats a lot as she had adopted their tactic of ignoring your presence. Her eyes were firmly glued on the vast outdoors behind us, not on the stupid antics we were using to get her attention.

I don't know. I might have to go back for that one. Don't know if the Diplowife will approve. She probably doesn't want any competition in the ignoring me contest.


  1. Sounds like one of my old dogs. Ignored you until it was either food time or play time, then she DEMANDED your attention.

  2. Oh, you have been so chosen! They will do this, you know. Cats and dogs both - we do not pick them, they choose us, and we walk away from those who have chosen us at the peril of our souls. I walked away from a kitten once, who had very obviously chosen us - and have regretted it ever since. The gods who dictate this kind of thing, they will have their way with us poor mortals. Fortunately, I was forgiven for this turning-away of a gift.
    We can honestly say that we have two rescued dogs now: one was actually ... um ... liberated (yes, that's the word) from some heartless and careless acquaintances of my daughters'. Daughter was leaving an assignment, and quietly absconded with the dog, who also is a pit-mix with honey-colored eyes. Second dog is a 15-pound Maltese-Poodle mix, found just running loose on the street. Five or six years old, friendly and adorable, neutered, docked tail, house-trained, and recently groomed. We were never able to find the owner, and so we kept him. They were both truely rescued - one from neglect and starvation, the other from the streets and death by automobile.
    You will go back for the brown pit-mix with the honey-colored eyes. She has already claimed you, although you probably don't quite want to admit it yet.

    1. I fear your words for they hold the truth . . .

    2. Ok, then - your sweet, dignified puppy with the honey-colored eyes has chosen YOU, so what are you waiting for? Be judicious with the treats and the affection, let her have a dog-bed on the floor in yours and Mrs. Diplomad's bedroom ... and in a very short time you will be the absolute center of her doggy world. She has obviously been traumatized by a life of shelters and people who go away all too often ... and thus is guarding herself against heartbreak.
      She is meant to be yours. Go and get her.

      What ... you're still here?

  3. I re-read your post while listening to Götterdämmerung..... Run from that pit mix like the wind!!! It's.... it's..... it's..............

  4. I must admit my beloved departed collie chose me also not the other way around. I wanted one of the cute little fur ball puppies not the nearly out of puppyhood collie. As I was watching the antics of the little puppies the "older" collie (by like 4months) came over and sat down next to me and leaned up against me. I so miss that dog. Best dog ever.

  5. "Don't know if the Diplowife will approve. She probably doesn't want any competition in the ignoring me contest."

    Oh, you really screwed the pooch with that one.

    Look at the time.... gotta run...

  6. Its the putting them down I hate.
    Our last, James a black lab got a melanoma on his jaw which matestasised to his lungs.
    day we got the verdict the day we put him down as we had a beautiful rot tie sheba years ago that we let live too long and that was cruel.
    Worse thing was James was my boys dog and to be frank i thought I'd be puttiing him down whilst duncan was at uni in a couple of years.
    But no, so we went to the vet together after school.
    rem I've done this 4x now and so had steeled my heart.
    Not so for when holding my son sobbing over the body of his best mate..
    It was one of those life moments that happens.
    I love my son to bits and I loved james too, I still miss him, when I come home expoecting him to greet me as he did.
    I sometimes look up from a book expecting him to be there.
    What it must be to dunc.
    I've always been wary about people who don't like dogs or kids, not cats though. funny that.

    1. Yes, I always feel as though I betrayed them when I have to put them down. They are so trusting it can get infuriating.

    2. Someone told me once that grief is the price that we pay for love. No such thing as a free lunch. It's the same thing with dogs and cats.

  7. I have to laugh at the process to "adopt" a "rescue" dog. We adopted a middle-aged Chow via Petfinder a few years back. We had to fill in a lengthy application, similar to the paperwork involved in a Mortgage application. Then a person was dispatched to visit our home and survey the property.

    The woman stood in our living room and asked us a number of questions, one of which was "Have you ever owned a Chow before?" Standing next to her was our other Chow - barking at her. I kid you not.
    next question - "Do you have stairs in the house?" She was standing in view of many of our stairs.

    I felt like Rod Serling was going to pop out any minute.

    In the end, we were granted the approval of adoption, after a small "donation" of $250.

  8. After years of having pedigreed dogs from responsible breeders, my husband and I began adopting rescued dogs. A whole new experience, but now I'm really into the world of dog rescue. I realize that for someone who has lived years in the Far Beyond, you, Diplomad, might not be overly distressed by the plight of homeless dogs and cats here in the U.S., but it really is a scandal. However, I do admit that rescuers are a little batty--including me. I hope you get that dog--or some other dog. Unfortunately, there is an unlimited supply--even after Christmas adoptions.

  9. maybe that makes a difference. those terms are changed for them to sound humane. i really wanted to have another dog in our house. they are really cute.