December is our favorite time of the year.
It’s the month we receive many generous contributions from local residents supporting the good work we do, year-round. December is also a fantastic month for adoptions. Many adults take time off work and kids, if they have any, are home from school, making December an ideal time to bond with a newly-adopted pet. And, there is truly nothing better than seeing a pet here in late November, then getting the mid-December message from an adopter and the attached photo of their pet curled up on a couch, under a tree or wearing new holiday gear.
In December we tally volunteer hours for the year, animal lives saved, spay/neuter surgeries, animals rescued, cruelty cases presented to our District Attorney’s Office, animals trained in our obedience classes, stray animals reunited with owners and other quantitative measures of our work. I won’t give those numbers, because they won’t mean much.
I like stories better than numbers. Stories stay with people. My favorite this holiday is Izzy’s story. This little guy was one of several hundred unwanted or stray Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes we received last year alone (Chihuahuas, as many readers know, are the most common incoming breed). He was a year old, totally untrained and severely shy. An ideal candidate, we felt, for our TAILS inmate program. In this program, we send four dogs at a time to live with inmates in a minimum security Sheriff’s Office facility. Our trainer visits every Friday to teach inmate dog handlers how to train our charges; outside of these classes, the inmates are responsible for everything: homework from class, socialization, exercise, grooming, general TLC and clean-up.
Izzy graduated, but without a happy adopter waiting for him, unlike the other three dogs in his class who quickly found their forever homes. The Sherriff’s Office staff were happy to keep him beyond graduation. He became part of the next class –his “post-grad work,” we called it. Somewhere along the way, Izzy’s biggest fan became a new Deputy, a big bear of a guy and former star athlete in love with the tiniest of our TAILS dogs.
Still, after two stints in TAILS, it was time for Izzy to leave campus, to give another dog a chance in the program. Izzy came to our Center for Compassion. As beautiful as it is, our new adoption center is not as nice as jail, from the dogs’ perspective, that is. While in jail, Izzy had two inmate handlers assigned to him, two people who continually loved him up, supervised his endless off-leash play sessions with other dogs in the facility’s large exercise yard. At night, before getting tucked into his crate, Izzy and the other dogs enjoyed tv time in the rec room; for him, this probably meant time on someone’s lap.
His fans, the big deputy chief among them, wondered what would become of Izzy, since he was one of some 45 dogs inside our center awaiting adoption. Would he regress behaviorally or mentally? Would we have to euthanize him? Absolutely not, we assured them. He would be available for adoption until we found a home, as long as he remained medically and behaviorally healthy. That was eight months ago.
Izzy’s new Mom visited November 20, adopted him to be a companion and buddy for her resident dog, and we received this update hours before heading home for Thanksgiving holiday. To all staff at the Burlingame PHS/SPCA, I’d like to thank you so much for assisting me in a helpful and friendly manner during Izzy’s adoption. Izzy is a great dog, very well behaved, he gets along well with other dogs and people. I enjoy his companionship and I am very happy to have adopted him. He will be treated very well and I will try not to spoil him too much J I will bring him by the shelter during the weekend to stop by and say hello to his great friends and take some pictures.
And, we received one of those pictures, the one attached here. Izzy’s the guy on the left. Our biggest fear was that her resident dog might bully Izzy, who was still on the shy side. As they say, a photo says a thousand words. In case, one will suffice: home.
We wish all our dogs awaiting adopting find homes as good as Izzy’s.