SCRUGGS MEETS THE “KIDS”—
(34th installment, Scruggs and Samantha, by Mary de la Pena)
The afternoon of the adoption meeting I had finally controlled my two dogs, Fina and Tara enough that we could sit quietly outside of the Humane Society. As we waited, Agent Tamara drove into the unloading area of the shelter. She saw us waiting on the grass and came to greet us.
“So, you’ve brought the kids?” she asked. “Do you need some help?”
I almost laughed out loud but managed to smile instead. “Sure,” I answered. “Why don’t you take Fina, the Rottie mix, and I’ll take
With both dogs under control, we were able to enter the shelter to meet Scruggs. But my reason for anxiety wasn’t over yet.
Once inside the compound, Agent Tamara handed both leashes to me as she headed into the office. “You wait here,” she said. “I’ll get someone to bring your new dog out here so that everyone can meet.”
I started to protest, hoping the “meet and greet” would occur at the safe haven of the adoption pen. It was quiet there, and I hoped my dogs would settle down enough to make a good impression. The last place I wanted it to occur was in the yard with the trucks. But before I could raise my voice to ask for a quieter place, Tamara was out of sight. I was left to handle the dogs on my own, apprehension filling me.
While we waited, I kept both dogs in a “sit” position; both of them were acting like it was no big deal to wait quietly at the dog pound. But I knew it was an act.
Tara was panting heavily as she split her attention from my face to the distracting sound of confined and barking dogs. Fina kept shifting from a “sit” to a “down” position, inching closer and closer to the pens as she changed position. She was doing her equivalent of a doggy sneak, but it was easier to ignore her than reprimand her.
Agent Tamara appeared a short time later with a broad smile on her face. “One of the volunteers will bring your dog around,” she said. “I’ll just wait here with you.”
As she stood next to
the dog took the opportunity to give her hand a swipe with her large
“How sweet your dog is,” she said, patting
I knew it wasn’t affection. I could tell from the look in Tara’s eyes. She was pleading with someone she sensed had authority and was asking to leave that place. Fina just kept inching closer and closer to the sound of the other dogs, silently inching until she was almost at the end of her leash.
I could see Scruggs coming around the corner. He was a whirling dervish of golden activity, twirling and jumping as he used the volunteer for a Maypole. Scruggs wrapped the leash around the volunteer’s legs, causing him to pirouette to unwind. All that was missing were a few ribbons and some music.
“Here,” Agent Tamara said. “We’ll take the Rot up first to meet the dog. If that goes well, then we’ll bring the other dog. We don’t want a pack issue if the two decide they don’t like the new dog.”
I knew she was concerned that the two buddies might decide for whatever reason not to like Scruggs. Because they were pack mates, they could turn on the new dog instantaneously if either one of them decided the new dog was a threat.
Okay, so that was the plan, but in keeping with the day, the plan didn’t work. As soon as Fina saw Scruggs she bolted from my hand, ripping not only the leash from me, but taking at least two layers of skin with it. She ran headlong toward the dog. Tara seeing Fina’s reaction started to stand to follow.
“Oh, crap,” I said as I started to run after Fina. While I was on the move, Tara started moving, too. She ran in front of me, cutting me off like a nose tackle. I sprawled headlong on the concrete, skinning my knees and my hands. I looked up just in time to see Fina wiggle a greeting at Scruggs. Soon both dogs were sniffing each other’s’ butts, both laughing a greeting. Then
the more reserved of the two dogs, joined them and created a circle of
butt-sniffing and tail-wagging.
By this time Agent Tamara and the volunteer were laughing. “Looks like there’s no issue if the dogs will get along,” she said.
“No, just a question if the two black ones will live,” I said under my breath.
“Huh?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I answered. “I’m just glad they all get along.”
“Okay, then, I’ll sign this form giving the okay for you to adopt your dog, and you can pick him up tomorrow,” Tamara said.
“And the kitten?” I asked. “She has to be spayed. Will you keep her a couple of days to recuperate?”
“Oh, no,” Tamara responded. “We perform the surgery in the morning, and they’re ready to go by four o’clock. We close at six, so you need to get them sometime before then.”
I was a little shocked. Samantha was little; I wasn’t even sure she was two pounds. Being such a tiny baby, I was afraid for her safety. Just as I was starting to protest, I heard a familiar voice behind me.
“I hope I’m not too late,” Prince Charming said.
I squinted and hunched my shoulders, looking at my raw and blistered hands. Oh, hell no, he wasn’t “too late.” I wanted to yell at him for making me suffer alone. But by that time he and Agent Tamara were chatting amicably about the great social greeting the dogs were having. She reiterated to him the animals would be ready for pick-up the next day as he nodded agreement.
“Great,” he said. “If you can hold them till about five o’clock, I’ll make sure I keep my calendar clear. I want to be here when Scruggies and Samantha come home.”
I found myself squinting at him in disbelief again. Not for one moment did I believe he’d remember to come with me. I was too used to being alone, and I was positive something would come up to keep him from coming with me.
Just thinking about the imagined future slights fouled my mood. I stayed silent and cranky all the way to the car. Never mind that Prince Charming was there to handle the more rambunctious Fina. Never mind that it would have been almost impossible to get both dogs back into the car without his help. My focus was on my bleeding palms and my torn pant leg. I wasn’t ready to forgive and I definitely wasn’t ready to forget.