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Road to Rescue with Leslie Smith

The five-month wait, but who's counting?

Dispatch from the Santa Fe Humane Society shelter, November 9, 2010

I like to think I was the first person to fall in love with this dog. I wrote about her back in July--her first day in the receiving building at the county shelter--before she'd even been evaluated by staff.

Her body bore the marks of tough living, but her amiable, affectionate spirit was more pronounced than any physical feature. That trust, despite mistreatment, kills me every time I see it.

This gal won't last long in Adoptions, I thought. She's just too adorable. Plus, everyone loves an expressive, well-behaved dog, right? Staff christened her Momma, on account of the years she'd obviously spent breeding.

Max_300_momma1
photo credits: Nicole Beder

The next week I ran into my friend, and fellow volunteer, Nicole. "Oh my god, do you know Momma?" she asked. "I'm in love with that dog. If I didn't already have three at home..."

That seemed to be the general consensus among staff and volunteers. Momma would nuzzle that huge head of hers into the crook of your arm or wiggle into your lap and you couldn't help but become smitten. How anyone could pass up this snuggly, eager-to-please, forgiving animal was beyond us.

But days at the shelter turned into weeks for Momma. Summer became fall.

Max_300_momma

One day in the Adoption building, a man in a denim shirt and cowboy boots approached me. "I'm looking for a great dog," he said.

"You've gotta meet Momma!" I told him.

"You mean the crazy looking Pit Bull with the one ear and squatty build?" he asked.

I was stunned. Well if that's all you can say, you don't deserve Momma! I said in my mind. Out loud I muttered, "Umm... we have Labs too."

Max_300_mama

Clearly the public wasn't seeing what we saw. My friend Ann brought Momma to her house for overnights a total of six different times. Volunteers are encouraged to do this so that they can report back on what the dog is like in a home environment.

"I really got attached to her and that sweet face looking up at me with love, and the way she insisted on sleeping next to me, molded to my body," Ann reported.

And then yesterday, as I was finishing my shift, I finally heard those three words I'd been waiting for: Momma's getting adopted. I dashed to the Get-to-Know-You room where a teenage boy watched Momma hop on and off a chair. "You're adopting her?" I asked. "Yeah, my mom's filling out the paperwork," he said.

The next few moments unraveled into a delirious whirlwind of tears and pats and exclamations of "I love you so much, little dog!" The boy took it all in, looking much more uncomfortable now in the presence of a blubbery middle-aged lady than he did when he was alone with the dog. "Sorry about this," I said, wiping my nose on my sleeve. He just smiled.

On the way out of the building I met Momma's new mom. I can't remember how many times I said congratulations. And thank you. "We're so happy too," she assured me. "I have chills just knowing she's ours."

I might've been the first person to fall in love with this dog. Thankfully, I wasn't the last.

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