The Importance of Good Breeding

“Shame on you for separating the brothers!  They are free fucking dogs after all!”  

As quickly as her radish-red head had popped in the door, it popped back out after she hissed out her missive.

As a little girl, I remember my extremely un-PC grandmother introducing us to her acquaintances as “my little half-breeds.”  That didn’t strike me as peculiar until I got older.  Since a very young age I’ve been rather well aware that I’m not “White”…….. I ‘m also not “Native American.”  I am a mélange of ethnicities.  A mutt, so to speak.  On my father’s side there is English, Irish and Norwegian (as far as we know, thank you grandma for the vaguery.)  On my mother’s side there is Navajo, Hopi and Zuni.  Growing up, I was either “Indian” or “Billagona” depending on who was making the judgement.  Yes, I did say “Indian” because at the time Native American wasn’t part of the lexicon and Diné wasn’t even on the horizon.

It is confounding that pretty much from the get-go they realized, “ooooooohhhhhhh, we aren’t in India…..but let’s call them Indian anyways.  They’ll never know the diff… savages after all…… *Harvard laughter*”  Anyway, that’s another blog.

When you grow up teetering on a fence, you see the world and all its little human occupants differently.  You become a sharp observer of people’s behaviors.  You learn at a young age that you aren’t always going to “fit in” so you’d better pull up your boot straps and do your best.  You learn that life isn’t fair and most definitely not a fairytale. That’s okay, though.

On the flip side, you will earn a sense of humanity and humility that makes your journey worthwhile.  Compassion is developed early for all of the misfits you encounter human and otherwise.  My sisters and I spent a good part of our childhood bringing home stray dogs and feeding homeless cats as unwanted animals were in abundance on the reservation.  Needless to say, I have a fondness for furry flotsam.

Recently, my boyfriend’s yearning for a dog found us going to a pet expo and investigating various breeds.  He was even looking at breeders’ websites.  I maintained that he should find a rescue dog or even better a rez dog.  As happenstance would have it, we saw a segment on the local weekend news talking about an adoption event sponsored by an organization called Maddie’s Fund.

On a Sunday morning we found ourselves lining up outside of a local store that is run by the Arizona Humane Society along with a handful of hopeful families and couples.  After about half an hour the doors opened and we all filed in.  The first pen we started to walk by had two smallish occupants cowering in the corner.  He was the first one I laid my eyes upon and his type fit into what we were looking for.  He was small but not too small (stringent standards).

We were happily ushered into a meet and greet room and waited for them to bring in the little stranger. He was petrified.  He just stood there shaking…seemingly shellshocked.  We had to approach him.  We asked about his back story.  They didn’t have much information except that he and his brother came from a breeder two days earlier and his hair was overgrown and severely matted.  He had been neutered the day before and was still a little off from the anesthesia.  So much so, he almost passed out in front of us.  Either that or it was his overwhelmingly noxious odor that was a mixture of old urine, old feces, new urine, new feces with top notes of sweaty canine.

We spent the next hour petting him, talking to him and trying to bribe him with treats.  My boyfriend was skeptical that he could be rehabilitated.  Although he warmed up to us slightly, he still did not display interest in us and barely interacted.  However, I found that he was not aggressive at all as I ran my hands around his ears and picked up his paws.  He even let me look at his teeth.  That was a good sign even though he was a zombie.  Who wouldn’t be after all that he had been through?

While we were trying to make up our minds, I became aware that there was another couple interested in adopting him and his brother.  The volunteer who was assisting the other couple was making it very clear how interested they were.  Her excited expression as she pantomimed in the window about their intentions.  She even came in to talk to us which drew the ire of the coordinator who was helping us.  She did not want them to influence our decision because the organization would rather have these dogs adopted separately.  The two pups were not well socialized.  If left together they would continue to be bonded to each other which may make it difficult to bond with their humans.

I left the final decision up to my boyfriend after voicing my opinion that I believed the dog would be okay with some love.  Despite his misgivings, he couldn’t leave the little guy there.  This greatly disappointed the lady (I use this term loosely) of the couple wishing to adopt the two brothers.  So much so, she was compelled to bark and snarl at me after my boyfriend had gone out of the meet and greet room to fill out papers.  After she spat out her verbal vomit, her rotund form stomped out of the store leaving volunteers and fellow adopters puzzled in her wake.

I was slightly shocked, a bit perplexed and quite relieved for our stinky little kennel urchin.  Can you imagine a life with that woman?  Really…. how invested are you when you leave the other dog just because you can’t have both?  Slippers, salt and pepper shakers…yes.  Dogs?  Not so much.

With papers in hand and anxious no-name dog in arms, we left to introduce him to his new life.  A trio of mutts embarking on a new journey.

To be continued….