It was a clever marketing approach. Perhaps one of the cleverest I've ever encountered.
While all the other dogs at the shelter were pressed close to the wire fencing, ears at full attention, tails wagging fiercely as people walked by, one named Angel turned the other direction. Her head was hung low, ears drooping, as she faced the corner, trembling.
As Celeste and our friend, Patty, continued walking, looking into other pens, I stopped and tried to coax the little dog over. She wouldn't budge. Perhaps it was just my overactive imagination, but as that shaggy dog looked at me with those doleful eyes, I could feel her shame, embarrassment and fear.
It was Patty who was considering getting a dog. Celeste and I had simply accompanied her to the shelter with the understanding that we'd already met our quota of animals (three cats, two dogs). My dog-loving daughter and I steeled our spines and declared ourselves impervious to the charms of the sad-eyed furry creatures we knew we'd encounter.
When I approached the shelter's staff to inquire about the dog, they knew little about her beyond that she was about 3 years old and had been surrendered by her owner.
Even hours after we left, I couldn't get Angel out of my mind. Celeste and I returned to the shelter and asked if we could take her out for a walk. When the kennel attendant brought her to us, Angel's head was so low that her bottom lip was practically dragging the ground.
But the instant she stepped through the door, a new dog magically appeared at the end of the leash. A high-stepping, tail-wagging fool of a dog, grinning ear to floppy ear.
I bet some of you are getting ahead of yourselves, smugly thinking you know how this is going to turn out. Well, ha! You're wrong. We don't have a new dog.
My parents do.
Like with Patty, it had only been a little over a month since the last of my parents' dogs had died. My folks have always had dogs, often more than one. But after losing three dogs in just a little over a year, they wanted some time to recover and to perhaps do a bit of traveling without worrying about their pets.