Strays know a pushover when they see one.
When I knelt down to pet him, he shrank back a bit but within seconds was sprawled out on the concrete surrendering to a belly rub. He had no tags or collar so I sat with him for a few minutes just in case someone suddenly realized they’d misplaced their Pekingese Shih Tzu. They did not, so I bought him an oatmeal pie and we headed for the nearest vet’s office to check for a microchip.
No again. They suggested I take him to a shelter.
I suppose it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion. I couldn’t take him home. I couldn’t take him to work. I wasn’t about to put him back out on Quintard Avenue.
But after a scraggly furball has curled himself up on your coat and laid his head in your lap, you tend to be a tad emotionally invested. It’s the same reason I can’t watch that stupid Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial.
And it didn’t help that I’d just recently learned about something called Black Dog Syndrome. It seems in shelters across the county, dogs with the misfortune of being born with a dark coat of fur are at a grave disadvantage. With hopeful dogs of every make and model competing against the odds for a home of their own, black dogs are overlooked for being too ordinary or passed up due to silly superstitions. And Big Black Dogs — Labrador, Rottweiler and pit bull mixes — have the hardest time of all.
I’ve been the pet mom of a Big Black Dog for more than six years, a 45-pound Lab mix that my sister found tied to the front door of the vet’s office where she worked in Mobile. Had it been my sister’s off day or the previous owner left him tied to a different vet, Koopa could have easily been a victim of Black Dog Syndrome. And that would’ve been a tragedy as I can tell you with conviction that there has never been a more loving, more loyal, more intelligent and more fun canine companion than my Koopa.
The Shell station stray would not be succumbing to BDS either, not on my watch. When I first moved to Calhoun County last fall, Koopa and I attended PetFest in Zinn Park sponsored by AMC. He did a little paw painting, entered a wiggliest tail contest (we were robbed of our win, by the way) and most importantly, we met the people at Piper’s Playhouse.
If you are a dog owner in Calhoun County and don’t know about Piper’s Playhouse, I am about to make your day. Owner Sara Hare has built a warm, safe, fun and affordable doggie daycare option on Arrow Road off of Highway 431. Unlike many doggie daycares, Piper’s doggie clients are completely supervised, inside and out, and there is a scheduled naptime to keep everyone well rested and playing nice.
Hare and her staff love their clients like their own. I guess that’s why on Friday afternoon, when I found myself with an unexpected furry passenger and no immediate destination, Sara was the first person who came to mind. Within minutes, she’d shared the dog’s picture and information with Piper’s Facebook followers, contacted the Toy Breed Rescue group in this area and found him a foster home for the night — Piper’s groomer, Jennifer Robinson, who offered sight unseen to take Scraggly Furball home with her for the weekend.
For working pet parents who don’t like keeping their dogs cooped up all day or for new pet parents whose puppies have more energy than they do, doggie daycare, even just a couple of times a week, can make a real difference. And for any potential pet parents that may be reading, when it comes to fur, black is back. And if you like that black fur scraggly and covering up just the hint of an overbite, Jennifer Robinson has got someone you should meet …
Dog Dish Pet of the Month
Koopa, my 6-year-old Lab mix, is seen here making friends at the Beneful Dream Dog Park in Alabaster. Koopa likes destuffing stuffed animals, stopping every three feet to smell new smells on nature hikes, and spooning till I fall asleep then stealing my pillow.
Now while I’ve got enough adorable pictures of Koopa in an adorable array of adorable activities, poses and costumes to fill this column for a decade, I don’t want to hog the spotlight like Koopa hogs the covers.
If you’ve got your own endless supply of adorable pet photos, your pet could be featured here next month. Email pet photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send them to Brooke Carbo, Assistant Features Editor, The Anniston Star, P.O. Box 189, Anniston, AL 36202. Be sure to include your pet’s name, age, breed, and tell us a little about your pet baby.