20 Aug 2014
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Extraordinary People, Extraordinary Dogs

Finding good homes for shelter animals is never easy, but the results are often rewarding.

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We place close to 3,700 animals into new homes each year, and as much as we do to guarantee perfect homes, at the end of the day, we take chances.

We trust that the person we meet during the adoption counseling session will be a good caregiver to one of our “grads.” I like to think we do a great job; very few animals are returned. 

Comparing our record to the state’s divorce rate, our folks should be matchmakers for people!

All this said, sending an animal out the door isn’t always easy. We get attached, we know what kind of home we give our pets and are left hoping our shelter animals get the same, or close.

Some adoptions make this process much easier and far overshadow doubts that creep into this matchmaking work. I’ll share two. Here’s the first story, in our adopter’s words:

In May 2009 I was looking through your list of adoptable dogs when I came across "Millie."  She was roughly 10 to 12 years old, and because no one wanted an older dog, she had been at PHS for several months.  My daughter and I came to see her with the understanding we would not be taking her home that day, but would sleep on it.  In the morning my daughter opened her eyes and simply said "yes."

We decided to take her, and within an hour we couldn't imagine life without her. She bonded instantly. On the way back from her first walk, my daughter saw a beautiful blue pebble. She was sure it had not been there on the way out, and believed Millie was a magic fairy dog who left it to thank us for adopting her. We changed her name to Magic, but she never responded when we called her by either name. As it turned out, she was completely deaf!  She figured out our routine quickly, and her lack of hearing didn't matter. When we needed her attention we would blow in her direction or flick the lights off and on.

We tried to teach her to play with her toys, but she just liked to carry them around. She limped and coughed a lot, and on X-ray we learned she had a narrow airway and an old spinal injury. Valiant efforts on the part of our vet kept her as comfortable as possible. 

As it got harder for her to get around we got her a special stroller just for dogs, which she loved. She was rarely more than three feet away from me for the next three years. She passed away in my arms.

When people learned her name was Magic they would often ask if she really was magic.  The answer was an emphatic yes! 

No one could ever look at Magic without smiling. She had a quirky funny expression all the time, and she cheered everyone who crossed her path. She really was a Magic little dog! 

Thank you for giving her a chance to bring joy to our family and all who met her.

 “Magic” is the scruffy little dog in the attached photos.  The other dog is “Googlie.”

Here’s his story: Literally minutes after reading this email message above, a volunteer bounded up to me in our lobby, a proud parent eager to share Googlie’s story. This Chihuahua mix arrived December 30, a stray found in Redwood City with a fractured leg.

We guessed he had been hit by a car.

No one claimed him and we determined we needed to amputate his crushed rear leg. Other than this physical issue – something animals handle much better than people – he was perfect.  He recovered from surgery, was made available for adoption and was adopted two days later!

That’s special enough, but there’s more.  His adopter, Maria*, is undergoing specialized treatments.  She wanted a buddy and immediately fell for Googlie.  Now, she has her sights set on having him certified for therapy work so she can visit other patients.  And, she renamed him Negu (never ever give up!).

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