Soon after I moved to the coast in 2001, I read an article in the Curry Coastal Pilot about dogs needing homes. The paragraph that caught my attention read something like this: “Baby, a female Chow-mix abandoned at Sporthaven Beach, needs special home. She hates cats, children, men and other dogs. Perfect for a woman living alone.”
At the time I was living alone. I thought about it for a moment then laughed it off. I needed a dog like I needed a hole in my head.
A week later I read an updated plea from the Humane Society. Baby, the adult Chow-mix, and Romeo, a young black Lab, were still on the list. This time they ran a photo of Baby who looked so forlorn staring into the camera.
I called the number. Donna, Baby’s foster mom, answered. I made an appointment to meet them both the next day at one p.m.
Sunday morning I woke up wondering, “What the heck was I thinking?” I had a full-time job that kept me running between Brookings and Crescent City every day. What kind of life would that be for a dog — especially a special needs dog who hated everything? I decided to skip the rendezvous.
But at 1 o’clock, Donna called. “You’re coming, aren’t you?
I went to Donna’s, where she introduced me to Baby and four other canine pets including her frisky three-legged dog. She demonstrated how she taught them to “beg” for treats, and a symphony of howls and barks ensued. Baby didn’t participate. I was proud of her.
After a respectable amount of time I asked if I could take Baby for a spin. If she was going to be my sidekick, she had better like riding in my car.
Baby rode shotgun as we drove to Dutch Bros., where I grabbed a mocha and she nibbled on a treat like a perfect lady. Then I took her home, where I couldn’t help but notice how her fox-red fur blended in with my natural wood décor. Next we dropped by Rick’s house, where Baby was cool but civil to both Rick and his dog Josie.
Last stop was the Port of Brookings where, back then, there was a pet shop. When we walked in the owner recognized my companion and introduced himself as the president of the Humane Society’s board. I told him I was in love. He was thrilled that Baby had found a home. I bought the dog food he recommended, a new collar and leash.
When Baby and I returned to Donna’s, I felt so good, so sure about my decision.
I had Baby’s leash and my checkbook in one hand and knocked on Donna’s door with the other. She greeted us lamenting sadly how she had missed Baby, realizing now that she could never part with her. Donna suggested I choose another dog like Romeo, the black Lab.
I was flabbergasted. I ran home and called the pet store guy. “Oh, Donna always does this,” he said. “Let me talk to her.”
It took another week and a home inspection by three board members (“Do you have two bedrooms?” one asked. “Yes, but she’s not getting one,” I responded) before I made the cut. As the men nodded approval, a friend of Donna’s pulled up, got out of her car and led a boisterous barking black Lab to my front door. When I opened it, Romeo jumped on me.
“Donna thought you might like this dog instead,” she said.
Two days later, Donna delivered Baby. I put a new collar on my new dog and gave her water in a crystal bowl with silver-plate trim. I called my best friend and announced, “I have a beautiful new dog, part Chow, kind of a diva.”
“Martha Stewart raises Chows,” Denise replied. From that moment on, Baby would be called “Martha.”
(To be continued.)