If you read Bunny’s post yesterday, you might have noticed that she mentioned that we saw a Beagle named Max meet his new family at the dog park. Watching him meet his new family was equal parts heartwarming, humorous and it made me cringe a little. It also reminded me that you can’t take anything for granted.
As the woman who was fostering Max entered the dog park with her two large Great Danes, she mentioned to us and the other woman in the park that he was meeting his new family soon and she wanted him to be able to burn off a little energy first. That seemed like a reasonable enough idea to me. I know a lot of dogs’ chances with potential adopters are blown when they come out of a kennel or crate with a lot of pent up energy. Letting him burn off a little steam seemed like a fair idea. She also told us that she knew his coat looked bad, but that it was due to allergies. The poor dog was nearly bald, so his allergies must be pretty bad, and I felt for him.
A short time later, his new family showed up there at the dog park. They tried hard to win him over, calling to him and coaxing him. Max was much too busy sniffing around the park to pay attention to them. He didn’t seem to care two figs about the Great Danes he arrived with, but he did seem interested in playing with Bunny and Morgan and he was really getting his sniff on. It’s also a big park, so it was hard for them to stay in his line of sight to pique his curiosity about them. The dog park wasn’t an ideal meeting place, but it also wasn’t the worst place they could meet, either, I suppose. The dog was relaxed and happy enough, so at least they got a good idea about what he’s really like.
Then, I began to notice things. I noticed that little Max wasn’t neutered. Mr. Taleteller and I also saw a lot of signs that his potential family had no idea what to do with a dog. The woman who brought him there seemed very kind, but I’m not sure she was a good reader of people. I certainly don’t know Max’s story or history, but it seemed a little odd to me that she was sending an unneutered, allergy-plagued dog to a home. Still, I was happy that a dog who could very easily be passed over was getting a chance.
At one point, I wanted to switch lenses on my camera and Mr. Taleteller volunteered to go get the other one out of the van for me. As he got to the gate, two of the new family members got stuck between the inside fence in the park and the outside fence that prevents accidental escape if someone slips out the other gate with Max. They were trying to coerce him to follow them back to the interior gate by patting their legs and trying to get him to come with them. Max wasn’t taking the cue. My husband watched for a few minutes and then took Morgan’s leash off from around his shoulder where he keeps it fastened while we’re at the park and told them to try using a leash with him. These poor people didn’t even know that you need to snap the leash clip on the D ring of the collar. They clipped it on around the whole collar. My husband is a much better person than I am (because I would have laughed at that point) and he told them where to attach the leash. After that, Max just sat there. Mr. Taleteller told them to take a few steps and Max would follow — and he did. They were so pleased that they managed to communicate this with the dog. My husband also reached into his bait bag and gave them a few treats so they could start really making friends with him, too.
It struck me that we are all beginners in something at some point. Some of us pick things up more intuitively, but we all make clumsy first attempts. This family seemed truly happy about having their first dog, and I foresee many new firsts in their lives. My husband predicts that Max is about to become his own ringleader in the family. He might be right, and I hope that Max takes them on a wonderful journey they never expected. While I can say that I hope the woman who was placing the dog learns a lot of lessons, too, a part of me realizes that rescue people have to start somewhere, as well. I give her credit for getting off the bench and trying, and I’m sure Max does, too. It also gave me a few fond memories of our own mistakes as new dog owners. There’s something special about your first dog, both as a child and as an adult, that marks a golden era in your life. I’m glad we got to see Max start his beginning and realize how far we’ve come.