Dogs taken home from the cages at the SPCA seem to hold a special affection and love for their owners. Those owners are likely to experience at least an equal measure of blessings and joys.
The story below is an excerpt from our March/April 2015 issue. For the full story download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
There aren’t many subjects that I’m more passionate about than my dogs Lucky and Lily.
I love my dogs. They are easier to love than children, less complicated than a spouse.
I guess it’s the unconditional-love thing. My wife doesn’t greet me, tail a-waggin’, every day when I come home.
But Lily and Lucky do.
My wife doesn’t follow me to the door with sad eyes every morning when I leave for work.
But Lily and Lucky do.
Some people think “rescue” dogs are best. I’m not talking about dogs that rescue people, like the Saint Bernard, but orphan dogs – those wonderful, pitiful dogs that look at you through the cages at the SPCA or local dog pound.
Lily was such an orphan. She was picked up off the streets of southeast Roanoke as a frightened puppy. Alison and I had lost Rusty, our beagle-mix rescue of 10 years, just three months earlier. She was ready, I wasn’t quite there, but then I heard about this poor little puppy who was scared to death by all the barking and noise in the RVSPCA holding quarters.
When I first met Lily, she was in a separate part of the kennel to isolate her from some of the noise. It is so hard going to the pound and walking among the cages, having those pleading eyes begging you. I wish I could take them all. So does Alison. But that day there was a four-month-old scared puppy jumping up on the pen reaching for human contact. How could I say no?
On the way home in my Mini Cooper, she rode in the driver’s seat between my legs, shaking and scared. It was our anniversary and we’d planned to go out to dinner, but when my wife saw her, after the tears, we built a fire and spent the evening on the floor with our anniversary present. Over the years there’ve been some nice trips and expensive jewelry, but my wife says I’ll never top that anniversary present.
Lily was the name given at the SPCA and we thought it fit this very feminine little dog. The SPCA guessed she was half beagle and half collie (because of her long collie-like nose). Everyone complimented her beautiful markings, black and tan with a white collar and four white paws.
As a Christmas surprise for Alison, I ordered a DNA kit, swabbed her cheek and sent it off to the lab. Surprise, no beagle blood. She was 50 percent Treeing Walker Coon Hound, 25 percent collie, and 25 percent some sort of miniature. The photo they sent along of that breed showed a hound standing with paws up on a tree, baying. It was an image my wife and I had seen many times as we walked Lily each day. She was always looking up and seemed to spot every squirrel in the woods… on the ground and high in the trees.
Lily is five now and has brought us great joy and good exercise, insuring that my wife and I get a brisk 2.2-mile hike every morning. Heavy rain is the only excuse allowed.
After four years with Miss Lily, something remarkable happened in December 2013. We live on a small neighborhood lake near LewisGale, surrounded by the late Marion Via’s conservation-easement woodlands, the lake, a neighborhood common area and the acres of wetlands. It feels like we’re living out in the country and Lily is allowed to roam a bit around the lake.