Annie Oakley was ten weeks old when I saw her and her siblings in a port-o-pen at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s off site adoption center at PetSmart. I worked in the hospital at the back of the store and had prided myself in avoiding the allure of all of the puppies I passed every day in the store. I already owned two dogs when I saw Oakley, and wanted no more.
All puppies are cute. I know this. I work in the veterinary field. I see puppies every day, and they are all seriously cute.
Oakley was small, ten weeks old, and a mystery mix maybe cattle dog something or other with a white coat and parti-colored blue eyes. She would have had no problems finding a home. She did not need me.
I cannot say why I picked Oakley up, nor, more importantly, kept me from putting her back down. As the manager of the Banfield Veterinary Hospital, I worked with all of the various Southern Arizona rescue organizations. They filled the aisles every week with dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, all needing homes, and I wished them the best, but I had two dogs already, a smallish yard, and no need for a third dog.
And yet, I filled out the paper work, handed over $75, and took Oakley home.
Since Oakley, all of my dogs have come to me through series of events – I have a dog from Aussie Rescue, a dog that would have gone through German Shepherd Rescue, a dog who was dumped, and whose brother and mother went to labrador rescue (because they were black, not because they had one molecule of labrador blood). I have a border collie who’s owner asked a staff member at a hospital where I worked if at eight weeks she was going to stay that active, and when the answer was yes, relinquished her ten days later.
I have never rescued a dog. I have heard the term all of the time at various hospitals where I worked, and oddly it usually preceded the owner declining this service or that one. Rescuing implies pulling the dog out of a burning building or a flooded river; that is rescuing. Seeing a dog or cat and taking it home is not rescue, it is adoption. Adoption fulfills a need by both parties, rescuing implies a debt of one party upon the other. I did not rescue any of my five dogs. I adopted them, sure, but I did not rescue them. They owe me no implied debt, and I have them because I wanted them.
Getting Oakley eleven years ago was not planned, but it was what, ultimately, I wanted to do. Even through two cancer surgeries, a brief bout of Valley Fever, and a psychotic inability to cope with change, I am still glad I picked her up that day.