Not all shelter dog adoption stories have fairytale endings.
Her name was Kona. I first saw her sweet face on a Facebook post. She had one brown eye, one blue eye, and an adorable doggie smile.
I waited near the play yard at the back of the county animal shelter while a worker went to get Kona from her cage. The back door opened, and there she was: 40 pounds of brown, white, and black patchwork, pulling hard on the leash, sniffing everything in sight. Looking at her, I couldn’t help but think she’d been put together by an indecisive creator using leftover scraps. She squatted to pee.
“That’s a good sign,” the shelter worker said. “When they go as soon as they come outside, it usually means they’re house trained.”
One of the reasons I’d wanted to adopt an adult dog was because I didn’t want the hassle of house training. Our last dog, Buck, who had passed away several years before, had been six years old when we’d adopted him from the shelter. He was a great dog.
They made their way over to me, and I held a hand out to Kona. She gave it a cursory sniff, glanced at me, then looked away and kept sniffing. She’d been cooped up inside a cage for weeks– of course she was more interested in the great outdoors than she was in me.
The worker brought her into the fenced play area so she could take her off her leash. Kona trotted away from us and kept sniffing. I watched her for a few moments and chatted with the shelter worker, then I tried calling her to me. She didn’t come.
“She’s a little shy,” the worker said. I understood. I’m shy when meeting new people too. It was endearing.
I picked up a ball and threw it for her. Kona barely noticed as it bounced away. “I’m sure she’ll warm up once she’s in a more stable home,” I reasoned. The shelter worker agreed.
Within a week my husband had gone to the shelter to meet Kona, and we’d taken all the kids to meet her as well, with much the same results. We’d petted her, but she’d remained reserved. Still, we were all confident that once we got her home, she would relax. We were so excited to finally have a dog in the house again.