Location: San Francisco
Type: Australian Shepherd / Mutt mix
Six years after my beloved Lab died (and my kids had grown big enough to share dog walking responsibilities) I was ready for another dog. After hunting on various online sites for weeks, my son and I spotted what looked like a great candidate at the web site of Big Dog Rescue.
She was a shepherd mix, with doe eyes that looked as if they’d been rimmed in black eye liner, ears out to the side like the cocked wings of an origami crane, and a captivatingly slouchy way of sitting. I called and talked to the guy who runs the group and he told me that he had rescued Sukie from Oklahoma, where the shelters have notoriously high kill rates.
She’s a great dog, he assured me, about a year old and very sweet. He said he was bringing her to the San Francisco SPCA the next day. We all piled into the car the next afternoon to check her out, as well as a golden Lab that was also available for adoption. The Lab was, par for the breed, a wriggly bundle of sloppy friendliness.
Sukie, on the other hand, was quiet, gentle and elegantly reserved. She let us pet her, but there was no wagging tail or wet kisses. She wasn’t going to just give her heart away. We sensed there was more to her than the shy shell we were seeing. But we didn’t know for sure. I myself had never owned such a withdrawn dog before; and it was with some trepidation that I filled out the adoption papers.
The next day, as I was sitting with her in the SPCA lobby, waiting for the all-clear to take her home, the guy from Big Dog Rescue came by. Sukie pulled free from me and bounded over to him, and in one swift, graceful movement, stretched up to put her paws on his shoulders. It was such a loving, loyal greeting. My reservations melted away. It might take time–just a few weeks as it turned out–but now I felt reassured that Sukie would one day greet me the same way.