Every dog really does have his day
By JEAN FAULK
I love happy endings. Big mushy ones, where everyone involved is crying and hugging each other and the emotion is overwhelming. Movies and books are OK, but real-life happy endings are the best.
I was part of one the other day.
There were at least 10 people crying and hugging and laughing. Oh, and licking. That's right, licking.
You must have guessed by now there's a dog in this story. A shelter dog. A very special shelter dog. They're all special, but once in a while one grabs your heartstrings and tugs. Tugs hard.
His name is Munson. He is special not only to me, but also to everyone who ever came in contact with him. That is why I want to share his story with you.
November begins the "Homes for the Holidays" adoption campaign and Munson could be its poster dog.
He was a resident of the shelter four times in his three years, through no fault of his own. Twice because his family was moving and could not take him with them, once because he was taken back from his owners because of neglect, and the last time because he was found wandering along 12th Street. When the phone number on his tag was called to notify his owners, they claimed no knowledge of the dog.
Through this all, he was the happiest dog I have ever met. He was happy in his kennel. He was happy doing tricks. He was happy in the yards digging holes so deep that only the tip of his tail would show.
He loves mud puddles and tennis balls and will play until he is ready to drop with exhaustion. His fur is white and his skin pink with mottled spots, but he always looks gray. He has a passion for dirt and his nickname from the kennel staff is Pigpen. He would snort and grunt as he rolled around in the dirt like a little pig.
He also loves people. I could walk through the kennels and he would bark at me until I came over and paid attention to him. His tail wagged nonstop when anyone came near.
But no one ever looked at Munson to adopt. He was destined to become one of our long-term residents. He was not a pretty dog, with his face only a mother (or volunteer) could love. He was a pit-bull mix with short legs and stocky body; 65 pounds of pure energy.
I tried everything I knew to get him a new home.
Everyone I talked to or brought through the shelter was told about this wonderful dog. All I ever got was no -- except from my mother, who fell in love with him after seeing his picture and hearing stories about him. She is 75 years old, and simply does not have the strength to control a powerful dog. I even flirted with the possibility of buying my son a house (which I really can't afford) so he would be allowed to have a pet, which he isn't in his rental home.
All my efforts failed. No one wanted Munson.
Then a young woman came in looking for a dog. She was not picky but knew she did not want a puppy and preferred a dog that was already housebroken and trained. She was by herself and wanted a dog to alert her to things going on around her house. And a dog with a good personality. That was important. She would know him or her when she found him or her.
Could she be the one?
"Do I have a dog for you," I began. "His name is Munson and he is a pit-bull mix." This is the part where most people respond with a resounding "No way; I'm scared of pit bulls." But she replied: "Wonderful. Let's go look at him."
To be fair, after she looked at Munson, I introduced her to some other dogs, just to make sure. And when she said she wanted Munson, all of the volunteers in the room cheered. Kennel staff and the adoption counselors were cheering and hugging and crying. It was very emotional.
The young woman said she was happy to be getting a dog who was so well-loved and the only thing necessary before he could come in her house was a bath.
With promises to return for visits and calls to keep us updated, she opened the door for Munson to jump in the back of her SUV. He put both front paws up on the back seat, and began wagging his tail and looking around, as if to say, "Thanks guys, nice visit, but I am going home now."
To her I say, thank you, thank you, thank you! My Thanksgiving will now be complete. You gave a wonderful companion his life back and made all of us very, very happy. You are a special person taking care of a very special animal.
Jean Faulk is a page designer at the Herald-Tribune and a volunteer at the Humane Society of Sarasota County