Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hair today, gone tomorrow


Before I started doing this volunteer thing at Toronto Animal Services, I was never really into puny dogs. Don't get me wrong. I didn't dislike them. I just wouldn't have chosen one as a long term companion. They were too akin to tea cozies or purse adornments for me. I thought their DNA was barely a step above that of my childhood teddy bear - a teddy bear which, I might add, eventually lost a close fight with my first dog and was thus eviscerated - and justifiably so, as it was a weak, unambitious teddy and hardly put up a fight.

However, things have changed. One thing I've discovered over the past couple of years, is that all dogs, while they may not be created equal, can be equally endearing. Those little ones, the bouncy fluff balls, may not have the strength to help with any heavy lifting around the house but they sure are cute enough to pluck your heartstrings and make you want to wub their wittle tummies (another thing I've discovered is that I've also become less manly).

Mya was an owner surrender. When I first saw her in her kennel, I couldn't tell her head end from her ass end and had a hard time trying to figure out what to put the collar around. My first attempt resulted in a loop around her waist. My second managed to snare a front leg. Mya wasn't happy with all this fussing so she started to struggle a bit which didn't help. It was like wrestling with a squirmy wig. When I finally did get the collar on right and we started walking, it looked like I was pulling along one of those lumpy flesh balls covered in hair that people occassionally give birth to. You know what I'm talking about right? Those lumpy flesh, hair baby things? I didn't just make that up did I? - because if I did, that's kind of sick and I'll need to get stronger meds.

Anyway, it was a warm day and once Mya started panting, visually it made a bit more sense and it also became obvious that despite the funny 'do, Mya was not having a good time. First of all, she could barely see. She kept bumping into stationary objects: fire hydrants, car tires, garbage cans. This semi blindness combined with the fact that she had just been dumped by her shit-fer-a-heart owner and was in a strange new environment made for some skittishness whenever I reached down to pat her. She was hot and uncomfortable and stopped and shook herself several times on the walk, trying to unsuccessfully relieve herself of some discomfort on her skin. She was also quite sensitive about some of her mattes, pulling away if I touched the wrong clump of hair. Maybe all this discomfort explained why she didn't stop once to sniff anything at all during the whole time she was outside.

Mya liked people, though. You could tell. She wanted to be patted and picked up but the pain from the out of control matting made her reticent about approaching strangers too closely and it was this little thing, this push and pull of emotions, this trying to be friendly but being afraid of being friendly that made her "complicated" but in a way that made me empathize and not turn away.

As opposed to whenever someone tells me about someone they know being "complicated" and all I want to do is thwap both of them in the face with a wet sponge.

When we finished our short walk and I got Mya back at the shelter and told them how the walk went, they decided to get Mya to the groomers asap.

Later, I heard that the grooming experience did not go well but Mya survived it (and I think the groomer did too but that hasn't been confirmed). Freshly shorn of hair with a few razor burns to show off as battle scars, Mya was a brand new dog. Her shag was gone but you could see her big brown eyes and that more than made up for it.

And now she was lovely in looks and personality both. She was no longer holding back. She was all kisses and butt wags.

Mya, destined for someone's lap to snooze the afternoons away.

Update: adopted on Friday June 27, 2008

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