(Tony a.k.a T-bone)
Last weekend, I thought I was going to get into a throw-down with a thirteen-year-old freckled child named Hailey over a puppy.
ICHBA held their annual adoption day at the Tractor Supply Company on Saturday. We brought five dogs, including Dawn, Rosie, and Tony. For three hours, Donna, ICHBA’s head honcho, conversed with locals about our organization and our animals. Our only serious adoption inquiry was about Charlie, an adorable little blue-eyed Jack Russell terrier that hiked his leg on the bird feed about once every ten minutes.
Dawn acted as calm as always, accepted treats from strangers, and took several strolls around the store with Donna. On the other hand, Rosie, our big lovable oaf, behaved like the cowardly lion. Several people noticed her beautiful Cleopatra-like eyeliner, wanted to pet her, but she hid behind my legs, all sixty pounds of her trying to disappear.
ICHBA had help from a few foster families, including Hailey, a blond, brown-eyed eighth grader who fell in love with our five-month-old foster hellion Tony. And who could blame her? Tony launched himself at her like they’d been friends for a hundred years. The entire time I was at the store I saw T-bone for about 2 minutes because Hailey played, held, fed, and walked him for three straight hours. At one point, Tony was so exhausted he crawled into a crate and tried to pass out, belly-in-the-air, but Hailey was determined to spend every second she could with him and pulled him back out.
When the event was over, we started packing up, and I took Dawn and Rosie to the car. Then I went in search of Tony, who stood next to Hailey, while she begged her parents to adopt him. Like any responsible foster family, they both said no.
I reached for Tony’s leash, but Hailey wouldn’t let go. I reached again, this time heading for the Honda, but that little girl wasn’t letting go. For a few seconds, we stubbornly walked across the parking lot gripping T-bone’s leash together, neither willing to relinquish the puppy to the other.
At the eleventh hour, she adamantly yanked the rope out of my hand. I explained as gently as possible that I needed to leave, and she busted out in startling sobs. I mean howling wails, loud enough to make Tony cock his head in confusion. I may know some about raising dogs, but I have no idea how to deal with children, especially little girls bawling in the Tractor Supply parking lot.
Thankfully, Donna jumped in and rescued me, talking Hailey off the ledge by explaining that being a good foster family meant saying goodbye. When it was all said and done, Hailey and I hugged it out, parting as friends.
As I drove home, I thought a lot about that little girl’s meltdown. The funny thing is I completely understood how she felt. Every time I leave one these foster dogs, particularly puppies, at a new home I feel the same damn way. Maybe, Hailey has a future in this business after all 🙂