One of the recurring themes on the Associated Press retiree blog concerns the loss of a pet. These are tear-jerkers, and anyone who has had to put down a beloved pet will empathize with the owner’s loss.

And so it is with wife Ellie and me, still grieving the loss of our two elderly bichons last year. In talking dogs with El Paso Inc. editor Robby Gray, (Robby and his wife have adopted three small children from Asia with one more in the works), I discovered he also is fostering two dogs and owns two others. What a houseful!

Robby’s story motivated us to consider moving on; so, we began a search. We wanted a small dog, not a big barker, not a puppy, and not an AKC registered pure breed; rather, we wanted a rescue dog with a happy, curious and sweet disposition.

We started by exploring the city’s Animal Control website, which offers photos of adoptable dogs and cats that also are available for fostering – which often leads to adoption.

However, the website said Animal Control was closed to the public but that you could make an appointment to see a given animal. We looked at several possibilities but our email and voicemail messages went unanswered.

Next we turned to the Humane Society, which did have one or two small dogs. But when I called I was told the dog we had spotted had a waiting list of people wanting to adopt.

It is sad but most of the dogs in shelters are larger animals and cute little lapdogs seem to be in short supply.

We found out about the Animal Rescue League in Canutillo and looked them up online. To get started you must fill out an application not unlike a bank’s personal financial statement. You also have to swear how much you would be willing to spend on a pet’s medical needs.

I filled the application out online and got a call back in about five minutes. The caller said they liked our application but wanted more detail on the kind of pet we wanted.

Every small breed I mentioned resulted in a, “Yes, we have one.”

We were then offered an appointment to come out and interview some of those that met our specs.

We walked most of the small and medium size cages, and that resulted in several prospects. Two of the small dogs that looked promising came with baggage in the form of puppies. We passed on them and looked at two others – one a mostly Shih Tzu and the other a poodle mix.

We asked if we could interview them at length, and Ellie sat down on the concrete floor to see how they responded to her. One was pliable enough but appeared anxious and frightened and had little interest in interacting with Ellie.

The other was a bit disappointing too in that when he was placed on the floor near Ellie, he bolted for a dark corner, curled up, stayed there and couldn’t be coaxed out.

We had pretty much decided to take one or the other and tackle their challenges as we left that section of the shelter. En route we passed by a corner cage containing a small, black probably mostly poodle that was not there earlier. He stood up when we walked by, wagged his tail and licked a finger offered through the wire.

“This is the one,” said Ellie. And that was that.

Employees at the shelter said they didn’t know much about his history except that he came from a shelter in Juárez. I suspect at one point he had been with a family that treated him kindly.

Buddy has been with us about two weeks now, even going to work with us every day; and while he is friendly to everyone, he won’t let either Ellie or me out of his sight.

He has some other very endearing qualities – and a couple of challenges we are working on. He doesn’t bark or shed but he does like to mark everything in the house with a few drops as soon as we are not looking.

As this was written Wednesday we have cycled two days now with no marking or accidents, but we did start caging him at night and then escorting him out. We are hopeful he is getting the idea although for some reason Ellie has become grumpy about cleaning the patio.

Our thanks to Patty and Alan Russell for all of their support on behalf of our four-legged friends and their constant reminder of the need.


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