By Leslie Gallagher
It was time to find Kenny his forever home. Fortunately, I had a few things in my favor. One was the Kenny is the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen. He is just stunning. He is also incredibly sweet with people, female dogs and little dogs. For an older male Doberman who’d been in a shelter for years (and had been paralyzed in all four legs for months), that’s pretty amazing. He should have been an aggressive head case all around. Kenny took people’s breath away. I was constantly surprised at the reaction he got almost daily in our facility. People who were terrified of big dogs fell in love with him. People who were terrified of Dobermans fell in love with him. People who had only ever loved little dogs fell in love with him. Even cat people fell in love with him. He was just so, so special. How hard could it be to find him an amazing home???
I knew of a veterinarian who absolutely loved Dobies. Well, actually two veterinarians but one of them really wanted a girl. So of course I drove out to Dobie Rescue with our trainer Michael Chill to pick out a girl for her but that’s another story. The vet I had in mind (who just happened to be an oncologist. Perfect! Ken had melanoma!!!) had lost his two Dobies and was currently Dobieless. In my mind, no one should ever be Dobieless. He utterly, desperately wanted and needed Ken. He just didn’t know it yet.
So, because I’m evil I found out his schedule at his hospital and just “happened” to be there the next day when I knew he didn’t have a client. And I just “happened” to be there – with KEN! And I just “happened” to be walking Ken past his office as he finished a phone call. It was pure coincidence! And, who knew he loved Dobies?! And that he was Dobieless?! He took one look at Kenny and literally dropped to his knees. My heart went into my throat. So far, so good. Another vet friend, the one that I was walking through the hospital with, and who knew of my evil plan said, “Doctor, he needs a home! You would be perfect for him!” Dr. L immediately went into vet mode and started checking his lymph nodes (I had to stifle a laugh!), listening to his heart, palpating his entire body…..asking all the good medical questions that few people ask when considering adopting a dog they’ve just been seduced by. “How’s his heart? Any indications of dilated cardiomyopathy?” “Well, Doctor, he’s been seen and checked out every week by Dr. Ettinger” (one of the most famous cardiologists in the US who happens to be our Medical Director). “Any history of cancer?” “Yes, melanoma but we got good margins and chest films have all been clear.” “Is he good with children?” “As far as I know, yes. He seems to love everyone he’s ever met.” “How about babies?” “Don’t know, we don’t know any!” “Can he handle hardwood floors?” “Yes, but I’d prefer carpets or area rugs, just to be safe.” “Would he be ok being alone even though my wife’s always home, just in case she has to do errands?” “Of course. He’s PERFECT.” I felt like I was in the hot seat here but I’m a good salesman when I love my product. And I loved Ken!
Dr. L took several pictures of Kenny and messaged them to his wife. He said that his wife would probably be a hard sell as she was expecting their fourth child and had her hands full with the three little ones already. She called back instantly. “I want him. Bring him home.” He took a deep breath and said, “Can I try him out for the weekend?” Again my heart skipped a few beats. I hadn’t expected it to be so sudden! I was just trying to sell him on the idea, not to actually have him take Ken with him! As it was a Friday afternoon and Dr. L was an observant Jew, he would be out of communication from sundown that evening through sundown on Saturday. That meant I could not call or text and help out if he had any questions or concerns. He was clearly nervous about the whole prospect as it hadn’t been in his plans that day to come home (on his motorcycle) with an enormous male Doberman! A vet tech standing nearby offered to help out and drive Kenny to Dr. L’s house by sundown. Suddenly, everyone at the hospital was in action, figuring out how to make this work. Dr. L said, “OK, let’s do this!” and the tech took Kenny’s leash and led him away to be put in a run. I just about went into shock. My evil plan was working but suddenly I was having major second thoughts. Those thoughts only consisted of, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
I gave Kenny a hug and a kiss and told him I was always going to be there for him, that I was not abandoning him, but trying to find him a better home for him. He looked completely stricken. I was holding back tears and trying not to fall apart in front of a hospital full of lovely people, all of whom were rooting for the beautiful Ken. I gave Dr. L my cell phone number and walked out with Charity, a dear tech friend who also works for me one day a week. As soon as we were out of the hospital I burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably in Charity’s arms. I was almost hysterical. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I had just given away my Kenny. My love. The dog who adored Bryan and I more than life itself. What had I done?
Charity said all the right things, reminded me that Kenny needed a different home, and that Dr. L’s was going to be the best home ever. A wife and children home all day long. Tons of loving attention. Perfect vet care. People who would adore him and play with him and spoil him rotten. A home where he could be the only dog! It was the kind of home all rescuers dream of! I got into my car, called Bryan and burst into tears again. Bryan was speechless. I’d given Ken away without him being able to say goodbye. He had to see Ken and tell him goodbye, too. He got in his car and drove like the wind to the hospital while I, in turn, was driving to the office with tears streaming down my face.