My neighbor Julie’s heart is too big, especially when it comes to animals. She works at New York’s ASPCA and has two rescue dogs, both Tibetan terriers, one of which was in a puppy mill and used as a breeding dog for seven years, kept in a cage all that time with numerous other dogs, and never saw the light of day. Two years with Julie and he is almost not scared of his own shadow and he loves being outside. Watching him thrill in the outdoors is in itself a thrill.
A few weeks ago Julie brought home Iggy, a terrier who was on death row at the shelter where she sometimes volunteers. It is SHOCKING the number of animals that daily get put down/euthenized/killed in New York, and I won’t even give you the figures. You won’t be able to eat your dinner. Animals that people don’t want, dogs that people have used for fighting, animals that are so messed up that no one can fix them up without a lot of money being invested in them.
Every now and then Julie finds a dog she thinks is redeemable, and she brings him home to foster until she can find him a home. It is a reprieve. And that’s where Iggy comes in.
I sometimes take Iggy for a walk. He reminds me of the Tramp from ‘The Lady and the Tramp.’ He is a real character, with a bit of white scruff on his face, a trip in his step, and a curious habit of sometimes walking on three legs like a circus dog. He loves other dogs, doesn’t bark unless he has to, and he walks like a dream on a leash.
In New York, you come to see lots of dogs. Lots of people have dogs. Lots of people who shouldn’t have dogs have dogs. Lots of people who live in tiny apartments and have no time to walk their dogs have dogs. Often they are purebred $1000 specials that are neurotic (possibly because of their owners), yap, go berserk when they see other dogs, pull at their leashes, and are basically the kind of dog that make you not want to have a dog. Then along comes Iggy, a mutt fresh off of death row, pure of spirit, no hangups, walks like a dream, causes no mess or fuss.
The neurotics have a home, but Iggy doesn’t. Yes, life sure is mean sometimes.
Two people who were sure, absolutely sure, that they wanted Iggy backed out at the last minute. When they give their final answer, my heart falls even more than the previous time. But I am positive Iggy will find a home – I hope, I hope, I hope.
And one final thought: Next time you think of spending a fortune on a purebred or you pass by a mutt without a home, think of Iggy. Mutts can be the best.
(POSTSCRIPT: Iggy was adopted.)