I can’t even remember the specific dog we were going to look at, but that's all we were doing - looking. All I remember is driving half an hour to the Saint Paul Animal Humane Society to look at a dog we were absolutely sure we would not come home with (I even made her say it!). It was a large herding type and as we were petting him through the chain link door we saw another couple also eyeing him. Knowing full well that we were not going to adopt him my wife and I stepped back to allow the other couple to check him out.
Now if you haven't been there the dog area of the St. Paul Animal Humane Society is setup with individual large dog areas on one side and smaller kennel type dog areas stacked on the opposite wall. So as I backed up I found myself against the smaller kennels facing a sad yet hopeful set of eyes. With his head down, ears back, resting his chin on his tiny paws and looking up in a submissive posture he looked at us as if to say “I don’t expect anything but I’d sure appreciate everything.” Everything for him in that moment was a simple thing, a gentle stroke of the finger from the nose to the forehead. His eyes closed in ecstasy as I stroked his tiny nose gently through the bars of his kennel (I could only use one finger his head was so small. After a volunteer unlocked his kennel we were allowed to see him. Holding this tiny pup in my arms I decided that if my wife was ok with taking him home then I would be too.
Shortly after handing the dog to her I said it. “Well we could, ya know, since he’s small, probably be ok with the cats…” I don’t think she believed me at first but her disbelief quickly turned into excitement, then a concern as the reality of taking care of another animal hit her. After some discussion and division of labor we filled out the paperwork and were on our way with an undernourished Chihuahua we called Radar (due to his impossibly large ears).
I’d like to say it was easy, but that would be an enormous lie. After a brief honeymoon period it became apparent that he had issues - he was afraid, he was protective, he didn’t know how to properly interact with other dogs or even people. It took time and considerable effort on our part but now he is the nicest dog, loves meeting new people and other animals, he even plays well off leash at the dog park and we take him hiking with us and everyone loves him. Those that saw him in that original fearful state cannot believe he is the same dog and not because he’s gained 3 lbs (nearly double his starting weight). Though we’ve taught him much there are still things he’s teaching us and we can’t imagine life without him now. He’s even inspired me to volunteer at the Golden Valley location which has been a wonderful experience so far.
Our mission, vision, and values
Mission: To engage the hearts, hands, and minds of the community to help animals.
Vision: To compassionately and responsibly create a more humane world for animals.
Values: Be good to animals. Partner with people. Lead responsibly with compassion.