Today, most of us are thinking about how much we ate, how full we are (still!) and how we’re going to lose five pounds before Christmas (really?).
If we had family over for the big feast, we undoubtedly had an uncle or grandpa who passed out on the sofa with his belt unbuckled. Maybe you were with that guy, or maybe you were that guy!
Today is the perfect day to share the story of Duke, a skinny Black Labrador who found his way to the Peninsula Humane Society.
(SPOILER ALERT: this one has a happy ending!)
Duke arrived as a stray, weighing just 57 pounds - pretty lean for a young Lab with his frame.
His weight was just one of the issues troubling our staff. Duke seemed like a deflated version of Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh’s melancholic donkey sidekick.
Broken bones are easy to fix; broken spirits require much more work.
Duke had no bounce. No wiggle.
At one point during a short walk, his legs just gave out.
He entered his second week in our care at 55 pounds. Not a good sign, especially since we were doing our best to entice an appetite with the good, fatty, wet food added to Kibble.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to lose weight during their initial days in our care. Some are stressed-out by the new environment. But not many of us know a Lab who’ll just pick at food for a week straight.
Our vets were perplexed. Duke was a beautiful, purebred Lab we could place in a home quickly, yet we didn’t feel right making him available for adoption without crossing health issues off the list as possible reasons for his weight loss and demeanor.
How would our counselors answer prospective adopters’ questions?
Did they have a dog with hidden medical issues, or a dog big-time down in the dumps?
Blood work came back normal.
So, we took the only approach that felt right. We made Duke available for adoption, kept him on our vets’ radar and were completely honest with potential adopters.
I actually didn’t know much about our skinny guy until I got a text message from an old friend.
“R u at work? I’m at the Center checking out Duke,” the text read.
My friend returned the next day so his wife could meet him. We all spent time with Duke, and saw glimpses of a goofy Lab coming out of “Eeyore.”
A day later, there was a flurry of texts.
“We’re on our way home. …We’re at home. Duke explored, now he’s lying down at my feet – it’s a ploy :) Your staff is great. We had a great, caring experience.”
And, even better, this most recent update: “Duke’s appetite continues to improve and his mood has changed - he is walking taller and without his head hanging. Duke's spirit has been lifted and his ‘Lab Wag’ has returned. He’s accepted our 14-year-old cat, Jasper, and Jasper him -new siblings. Duke has been a great addition and we’re so glad to have a new member to our family.”
As I told my friend, I wish all our shelter animals could find homes as good as his.
Weeks ago, we decided to get together for a celebratory lunch when Duke gained five pounds. I joked that we might get there before Duke, especially given the holiday. It’s November 25. Total weight gain for the three of us: 11 pounds -- five for Duke!
And that’s worth celebrating!