My heart soared when I heard the word dog and my name mentioned in the same sentence. After doing my chores on a regular basis, my parents felt I could finally handle owning a dog. Dad's only requirement was that the dog had to be a rescue dog. That meant we had to rescue my dog from the local animal shelter. Sometimes it's called "the pound." There were no other restrictions. He said the choice was entirely up to me, and today was the day.
Dad and I stood in the hallway of the shelter. It was filled with yapping dogs in their holding pens. I didn't know where to begin. Slowly and deliberately, I walked past each cage. One short haired dog lunged at the bars, barking loudly. "Too aggressive," I said to myself. A small dog came to the front of another cage but wouldn't stop barking. I bent down to get a closer look. "A bit too noisy for me, I think," I said aloud.
Next, I noticed a small brown and white dog sitting quietly in the corner of his cage. His coat was dirty and matted. He did not bark at all, but he sat on his haunches and held his front paws up together, as if praying. When he moved them up and down together, he actually looked like he was begging.
"Look at that little beggar," said Dad. "Poor little guy; he wants a home, too."
The other dogs were barking excitedly. It was as if each of them knew what was happening. "Pick me! Pick me!" they were barking. Each of the thirty or so dogs in the shelter was trying to get our attention. I walked up and down the rows of cages, carefully scanning each of the excited dogs. Cuddly, small curly-haired black puppies slept together in one cage. Big spotted hunting dogs and tiny lap dogs, all wanting to be adopted, barked for our attention. Which one would it be? Would it be the chocolate lab with a white spot on his ear? He would make a great kids' dog. How about the cocker spaniel mix in the middle cage with two mid-sized yellow short haired dogs? "The cocker could sleep on my bed at night," I thought.
I walked past the cage that held the little beggar. He had been lying down. He lifted his head, then rose up and sat on his haunches again. His front paws moved up and down, up and down, together. This dog wasn't a puppy. The puppies were so cute, but puppies need a lot more attention than a grown dog.
I asked Dad right then if I should get a puppy or a grown dog. He said it was my responsibility and so it would be my choice. I thought about visiting my cousin when her dog had puppies. They chewed on everything. They left messes everywhere that she had to clean up. "Do I want that kind of responsibility?" I asked myself. Still, I couldn't decide. I was afraid to choose. All the dogs were so cute. All the dogs needed a home. I wanted to make the right choice the first time. I asked my dad if I could think about it overnight.
"Big decisions need a lot of thought," Dad chuckled and agreed. "I think that is wise. It is a big decision that you are making, and you should take your time. We'll come back when you're ready to choose," he answered.