Mission Complete

I was up and out of the house early Saturday morning, I was on a mission.

First, I stopped at the Pump N' Go for a Pepsi and a muffin. When you're on a serious mission, you need provisions. I took a second to chat with The Amazon and get caught up on the latest gossip. Everyone we know has had kinfolk at the hospital over in Big City this week. It's been a rough one for the older folks around the holler.

After leaving the station, I made my way over the mountain and through the woods to complete the next step of my mission, one that had started a couple of days earlier with an exchange of emails. I drove to the neighboring town, turning off on the long winding road that leads to the fairgrounds, the town dump and the one nursing home no one wants to end up in. I made the third left, driving past the county transportation department and to a little building on the side of a hill, with no signs, one window and an ominous, non-descript front door. The only evidence of the building's purpose was a piece of paper announcing the office hours taped to the fence surrounding the property.

I wasn't expecting it to be pleasant. I was expecting there to at least be an effort to make it easier on the parties involved.

I walked in the door and was faced with a tiny foyer, the cinder block walls covered with signs written in thick marker, "RING BELL FOR SERVICE" "SANITIZE HANDS BEFORE ENTERING" "NO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL" "NO CHILDREN WITHOUT AN ADULT."

It was like.. 85° in that tiny room. I had already developed the underboob sweat.

I rang the bell.. but not before seriously considering turning around and running like hell back to the truck.

Soon, a boy of about 16 came to the door. Black hair, dark eyes, olive skin.. he had that Melungeon look. I calmed down a little. He was polite, invited me inside. I followed him in and was immediately knocked back by the odor.

The intake room was small, about 12 tiny cages housing mothers nursing litters of babies with nothing to separate them from the hard concrete but a towel, beautiful blue eyes howling hauntingly for just a scratch behind the ears and shy little ladies whining for a kind word.

I knew it would be hard. I had no idea how hard it would be.

There is NO excuse for the stench in that place. None. I've worked in zoos, had animals my whole life.

I explained to the boy why I was there, the emails, the promises made. He called the director, he talked a bit. He asked me, "You do want her.. right? I mean, do you just want to see her? Or do you want her?"

"I want her," I answered. I was annoyed. I was told she'd be brought there the night before. I told them I'd be there Saturday morning.

"She said she wants her," he told the person on the phone. I stood there, scratching behind ears, silently blessing the sad eyes looking back at me. I wanted them all. Hell, I just wanted to run everyone out and go in there with some bleach.

They didn't deserve this.

"C'mon in the office and we'll go ahead with the paperwork. He'll be right here, he just lives up the road."

I followed the boy into the filthy office where there was old food stacked in containers around the microwave, the floor was covered in mud and every space was piled with junk. His friend sat playing with a tamed feral cat, huge, black and a little beat up. I tried to make small talk, he took my license and copied it. He explained that the state law said no one leaves the shelter without being spayed or neutered, but he'd sign me up to be a foster mom until Thursday when the van comes to take them for surgery.

No one asked me if I'd had dogs before, if my yard was fenced in, if I already had fifty dogs in a pen in my back yard, if I was a felon, if I was into dog fighting, did I have a job...

Not a damn thing.

We finished filling out the paperwork and sat there chit chatting for a while. The boy's friend asked if maybe the director had wrecked, he lived right down the road. He finally showed up about 15 minutes later. By then, I'd formed a nice little pool of boob sweat and my Secret was starting to tell tales.

It was feckin' hot up in that place.

I heard a man come in the door yelling, "Hello my stinkies!!!!" as he passed the cages. The boy met him in the hall and I heard, "Where is she?"

"She's in the office," the boy answered.

In walks a large man with thick, black rimmed glasses and a need for some serious dental care. He had her in his arms, said, "Here ya go!" shoving her at me, then trying to make his way back out the door.

"You were fostering her, right? What kind of food is she used to? Has she been around cats? Other dogs?"

He seemed annoyed. "Oh she's a good dog, never had an accident in the house, been around cats, other dogs, she'll eat anything, if it doesn't work out, just bring her back," and with that he turned and started out the door.

I signed a piece of paper and the boy carried my girl to the truck.

No questions asked.


Meet Ayla, named for a character from "Clan of the Cave Bear," my favorite book, it's also the Turkish word for the misty halo that surrounds the moon. She's 9 weeks old. That's right, weeks. She's half Siberian Husky, half Pyrenees. She barely fits in the crate I set up for her in the bedroom.

I stopped at the station on the way home, pulled up outside the glass and rolled the window down. She sat in my lap with her paws hanging out the window and I watched as T.A.'s heart melted into a ginormous puddle when she turned around and saw her for the first time.

The introductions were tense. Yoda is in love. Sammy.. not so much. Kitty doesn't even want to talk about it.

While there is no doubt that for me, it was love at first sight, the odor coming off this pup would gag you. Not the generic puppy stink.. no.. she wreaked of urine, her white feet were yellow and there were some other smells going on that I can't even begin to identify. This from supposedly being "fostered" by a couple who run both the county's animal shelter and the one "rescue" organization here. One of those that get animals from shelters then charge you an arm and a leg to adopt a dog.

Isn't that like.. conflict of interest?

I thought "fostering" meant you took an animal in and cared for it as your own, preparing it for it's forever home. I have a feeling that "fostering" here means stock piling them in the garage or something.

Anywho.. so Ayla got her first bath. I know it was her first bath ever because she thought I was trying to kill her. Now she smells like Fructis.




Today she seems more relaxed, I think she's getting used to us. She's already dived on top of Ma's head and learned to take T.A. down.

Anywho... I'm still a little suspicious and upset with the conditions and management of the local shelter. Obviously I'll keep my mouth shut until Ayla is mine, but after that.. I think I might have to start asking some questions.

I hope ya'll are having a great weekend. Around here it's all puppy breath and fuzzy nuzzles.

We'll talk again soon!

Later Taters.