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Road to Rescue with Leslie Smith

Shelter from the storm

Dispatch from the Santa Fe Humane Society shelter, March 22, 2010

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I'm learning that in Santa Fe you have to earn spring - she doesn't simply show up. I'd barely pulled in at the shelter when thunder and lightening struck suddenly, powerfully, and without any second thoughts.

Adding to the foreboding atmosphere, Animal Control had arrived hours before with a collection of anxious, ill-adjusted dogs of varying breeds and sizes. I knew few of the details, only that they'd been rescued from unsavory living conditions in a case of blatant and extreme hoarding.

Mr. Magoo was one of the recent intakes. He looked like an overgrown Border Collie, or a distant cousin of the Bernese Mountain Dog (learned later, he's a Landseer), and the huge animal trembled in his kennel. I have no idea whether it was the newness of the environment, the deafening thunderclaps, or a combination that had him so stressed, but it didn't matter. The dog was panicked.

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"You're not going anywhere," he says. (photo credit: volunteer Ann)

I intended to sit with him ten minutes or so, as I wanted to check in on the other new arrivals too. But Mr. Magoo planted two paws on my legs, and sweetly but firmly insisted I remain. If I made a move to get up, the feverish shaking and panting began again. So I stayed.

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Stayin' awhile.

Eventually, the big guy settled. He took treats from my hand and sniffed at the bowl full of kibble (untouched up to this point). At long last, he stood up to eat, first tentatively, then heartily. As he worked his way through dinner, I slipped out of the kennel.

Normally I feel guilty if I spend my entire visit with one dog, but in this case, it seemed warranted. I could see the difference in his demeanor between my first moments there and when I stepped out. All was quiet, finally. And as I gathered my things to leave, the pummeling rain turned to snow.

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