Lots and Lots and Lots of Dogs

By Linda Porter Carlyle

 MacKenzie Isabelle Evans wrinkled her nose. “Whew!” she whispered. “It smells in here!”

“That’s just the smell of wet dog hair,” G.M. whispered back. “Some dog must have had a bath.”

Joseph followed Mac and G.M. through the front door of the Humane Society. He pushed the door shut again against the wind.

A blond-haired woman behind a counter looked up. “You people must really want an animal to show up here on such a stormy day!” she exclaimed.

“Yes!” Joseph answered, a big smile on his face. “I’m getting a dog today!”

“I hope you find just what you are looking for,” the woman said. “We have 32 dogs and puppies here right now. And 65 cats and kittens,” she added.

“I don’t want a cat,” Joseph said quickly. “I just want a dog!”

“Sixty-five cats!” Mac exclaimed. “Can we see them?”

“Sure,” the woman said. “You can see them all. Well, all except the ones that are in quarantine.”

“I am not taking you home with another cat!” G.M. eyed Mac. “Don’t even think about it! Your parents would not be happy.”

“What’s quarantine?” Joseph asked.

“Separate kennels,” the woman explained. “Any new animals that are brought here have to stay in quarantine for two weeks—separated from the other animals—so we can make sure that they are healthy.”

“Can I see the dogs now?” Joseph asked, standing on his tip-toes.

“First you have to fill out an adoption application,” the woman replied.

“What’s that?” Mac asked.

“We have to find out some things about you and make sure you will be good pet owners,” the woman explained. She picked up a piece of paper from her desk, fastened it to a clipboard, and laid it on the counter.

G.M. took the clipboard and headed for the row of chairs. Joseph and Mac sat down on either side of her.

“This is complicated!” Joseph muttered, kicking his legs back and forth. “I thought we’d just look at the dogs and pick one out! What if they don’t think I’ll be a good dog owner?”

“Let’s just fill out the paper and see,” G.M. suggested. She adjusted her glasses. “I guess I have to put my name on this application because you have to be over 18 years old to adopt a pet,” she said. “And I am over 18. Stop giggling!” she said to Mac.

G.M. filled in her name, address, and telephone number on the correct lines. She marked that she lived in a house, not a mobile home, or an apartment. The list of questions went on. “‘Where will your dog sleep?’” she read aloud.

“In my room, of course!” Joseph answered, sitting up straight.

“Humm,” G.M. said. “I don’t know yet. I’ll put outside and maybe inside.” She read the next question. “‘How long will your dog be left alone during the day?’”

“That’s easy!” Joseph exclaimed. “Hardly at all. I don’t even have to be away from it for school!”

“Another good thing about home-schooling, I guess,” G.M. commented as she filled out that line. She read the next question. “‘List the pets you have had in the past three years and what happened to them.’ That’s easy too,” she said and wrote down, “None.”

Joseph squirmed in his chair. “How many more questions are there?” he asked.

“‘Is anyone in the household allergic to animals?’” G.M. read. “I’m almost done,” she said, marking, “No.”

Finally the paperwork was completed. Joseph handed the clipboard back to the woman at the desk. She looked it over. “It seems like you’ll make good dog owners,” she said with a smile. “Now you may go see the dogs. The kennels are through that door.” She pointed across the room.

Joseph pulled open the heavy door and was greeted by barking. Deep, loud barks. Shrill, high-pitched barks.

The kennels were cages made of chain-link fencing. Each kennel had a food dish, a water bowl, and a doghouse in it. There was a dog door at the back that led to a long, narrow, outside part of the kennel so each dog could get some fresh air and sunshine.

“Look at that dog!” Joseph said. A big, chocolate Lab stood at the door of his kennel. He barked twice at Joseph. “What are those papers for?” Mac asked, pointing at the white papers that hung on the door of each kennel.

G.M. looked at one. “It tells the dog’s name,” she said. “And it tells a little bit about the dog. This dog is named Omar. He is a Lab. He likes children. He likes to ride in the car, but he also likes to run away,” she read.

“Look at this one!” Mac exclaimed. The dog in the kennel in front of her snarled in a most unfriendly fashion.

“I don’t like him,” Joseph said. “Oh, look at that one!” The dog in the next kennel had a shiny black coat. She wagged her bushy, white-tipped tail back and forth. She gazed at Joseph and panted. “She has friendly eyes!” Joseph said. “I like her.” He stuck his hand through the space where the kennel door met the wall. The dog licked his fingers.

G.M. read the information on the white paper fastened to the kennel door. “It doesn’t say much about her,” she said. “She was a stray dog that was found near the highway.”

“I wonder what happened to her family?” Mac said.

“It’s impossible to know,” G.M. answered. “Maybe they were traveling and lost her somehow at a rest stop.”

“They probably miss her!” Joseph said. He squatted down in front of the kennel.

“She looks like she’s laughing,” Mac said. “I think she’s the perfect dog for you! She’s not too big and she’s not too little. And she’s really pretty. And she likes you!”

“Maybe we should look at all the dogs here before you make up your mind,” G.M. suggested.                 Continued next week

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