The volunteer gushes, The Dude abides

Dispatch from the Espanola Valley Humane Society, September 11, 2011

The Dude arrived late last week, his head the typical Shar-Pei tumble of folds and pleats. I love the looks of this breed — unappealing to some, bizarrely beautiful to me. But with a massive tumor-like abscess clinging just below his left ear, this Shar-Pei was even more distinguishable in appearance than most.

The Dude, Shar-Pei mix with evidence of abscess still visible

I didn’t meet The Dude until after the swelling had been drained, but the remainder was hardly inconspicuous. Bulbous and still tender, it must’ve induced quite the pressure headache. Our shelter veterinarian guessed it was the result of an injury or bite that had become infected (as opposed to a disease or illness).

Though he came in as a stray, The Dude probably had not been on his own for long. He could stand to lose a few pounds and doesn’t show a particular interest in treats or food the way those that have gone hungry often do. In fact, what he craves most is attention, dashing all remnants of the Shar-Pei reputation for aloof indifference. He greets each newcomer with kisses and nuzzles, and after a few minutes in his kennel, he places his paw on my knee as if to say, “Thanks for dropping by, old friend.”

Like the back stories of so many shelter animals, I may never know The Dude’s. How does a well-fed, well-socialized, neutered young dog wind up with Animal Control, a cyst the size of Texas on his face? I try to take a cue from The Dude himself who seems more concerned with where his next belly rub is coming from than how he ended up in kennel 16.

With his purebred looks and pleased-to-meet-ya style, I won’t be surprised if The Dude is adopted before my next shelter shift. For his sake, I hope that’s the case. And for my sake, I hope the spirit of his outlook lingers.

The Dude receives scritches on his good side