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Come and Meet My New Dog!

My Dog's Home.10.29.09

Here he is, at long last: “Tony,” formerly of the Humane Society of Indianapolis, now living at my house (and currently hiding under the bed).

Tony, or Julian, or maybe even Jamie, I haven’t decided which. In a way I want to wait until I know him better to rename him; his name should fit him, not me. I’d previously decided on Julian, for Dame Julian of Norwich, the 15th century English mystic whose work I’ve gotten to know this year. But now that I see who I’m going to bestow a new name upon, I’m not sure Julian quite fits. It’s an awfully serious name, but dogs should have fun. So I’ve been calling him Buddy till we come up with something permanent.

Here’s what I can tell you about him: he’s a little guy, three years old, a terrier mix (mostly rat I think), about a foot tall, maybe 12 pounds, in good health, not skinny, not fat, rated a 5 (just right) on a 9-point ideal weight scale. He’s white with a mostly black face, except for where some vanilla ice cream dripped down his forehead to his chin.

He’s quiet, I haven’t heard him bark yet. He tolerated a long drive (two hours) in the car just fine, staying in the back seat, not hiding, just watching me sometimes. When we pulled into the garage, he knew this is the place; I got his leash, he jumped out and we went exploring the back yard. He may have gotten his first sense of where the boundaries are (I don’t have a fence here). He lifted his leg next to the basketball pole (perfect spot), handled the steps on the deck just fine, and walked right into the kitchen. I took off his leash and he went exploring, the kitchen, the dining room and living room. I think he likes the dining room rug the best so far, so that’s where his bed goes tonight. (We’ll see if he sleeps there or under mine.)

But he wouldn’t come upstairs, where I spend most of my time. I fed and watered him, then brought a sandwich up to my room and ate in peace; he didn’t feel like following me. I finally brought him up in my arms; don’t know yet whether the steps are too tall for him or he’s just kinda scared about being in this unfamiliar place.

He comes when I call him, and seems like a well-behaved boy. When I sit on the floor, he comes and sits in my lap for a little while; he likes to be touched. He licks my hand when he’s happy. I think that’s great for the first night.

I can’t say enough about the Humane Society of Indy. It’s a fairly busy place, with dogs and cats and humans in and out all day long, so the staff and volunteers need to be gentle yet outgoing with everyone—and they are. The adoption process is easy, though they do want to make sure you’re capable of caring for the animal you propose to take home. I got a complete medical history on my pooch (so far as it can be known), which I’ll take with me to the vet next week. They have two veterinarians on staff and the operating room is busy, not just spay/neuterings but broken legs, eye problems, minor dental work, even major surgery. The volunteers help with chores and answer questions; the girl who helped me is a high school senior who’s applied to Purdue for animal technology, a four-year degree, plus some extra training in dog psychology.

Even though the drive was long, and I had to overcome my disappointment at coming home empty-handed last week, I decided to try HSI again because I’d started to get to know the organization and see how it functions; I’d started to trust them. In adoptions it’s important that the animal and the human start to develop some trust, of course, but you also have to trust the people you’re getting the animal from. I felt like the Humane Society of Indy knows what they’re doing, they provide good care and have many relationships in the community, so my dog and I are the beneficiaries of all those years of building up trust. The kennels are clean, everyone gets good food and exercise and attention, as well as professional services, and I feel confident that no one could take better care of “Tony” until I showed up to take him out of his cage and give him a house to run around in.

In the olden days most adoptions were informal, at least here in the country; if you wanted a dog, somebody said that Mrs. Smith’s collie had a litter a month ago. But now there’s money in animals, puppy mills, backyard breeders who’ve got inventory to move, rescue societies you don’t know from Adam, the Westminster show on TV; dogs are big business. I not only felt comfortable with what I saw and who I met at the Humane Society, I know that if something went wrong there would be an uproar in the community because they don’t conduct their business in private, but in public. That’s as it should be. Buy from someone who’s accountable; go with an organization of volunteers and professionals that’s been around for a hundred years and plans to be here for another hundred.

Besides, the fees they charge are modest ($105 for this boy, AFTER they cleaned him up from getting hit by a car) and you get a whole bunch of freebies and discounts in the deal: microchip included, discounts at area animal hospitals, a month of free insurance, low-priced obedience training tailored to your dog, use of their dog park for a measly 50 bucks a year. I live too far away to take advantage of some of the offerings but still, this guy’s a deal; they give you peace of mind about the pooch you’re taking home, which frees you up to make the relationship you’re hoping to have. Did I mention that the cats are 2-for-1?

No, it’s not the same as the old days, when you could pick up a stray at the county dog pound for a song; it’s better, I think, even if you have to drive a ways. I know exactly what “Tony’s” been through these last few months (they got him from the Humane Society in Kokomo, a reciprocal arrangement that helps both organizations manage space, supply and demand); they disclose everything they know about him, including whatever problems he might have.

Sub-total: they catered to me, they catered to “Tony,” they catered to Luke (who got adopted today!) and they do the same for hundreds of animals every year. So I foresee the start of a beautiful relationship.

Bottom line: I’m loving him already, sweet and gentle and kind.

Here’s another photo; tomorrow I’ll take some more pictures and maybe get his first smile. It’s hard on a fella to have to move, even from a cage, to go live with some stranger, but time will bring familiarity, and familiarity builds trust. The Humane Society has given us a great start.++

My Dog 10.23.09

Episcopal Church Announces Special Outreach to Roman Catholics


“All of the pageantry—none of the guilt!”
— Robin Williams

Dear Catholic Friends,

You may have heard recently that the Pope has announced a new “ordinariate” that allows Anglicans and Episcopalians to become Catholics while keeping their Prayer Books, hymns and married priests.

(Is there a special office at the Vatican that comes up with words like “ordinariate”? After all this time they still can’t speak English?)

We want you to know that the Episcopal Church has a much easier portal for Catholics to become Episcopalians: it’s called the front door. Just come on in!

The Episcopal Church receives more Catholic converts than it sends to Rome. Why?

• Mass on Sunday, same as always. Free bread and wine!

• We elect our priests and bishops. They serve us, we don’t serve them, except as fellow Christians deserving our love and support.

• The People govern the Church. We don’t do pronouncements from on high.

• Wonderful music—our congregations like to sing!

• No known pedophile problems. No $100 million victim settlements or diocesan bankruptcies.

• We have a culture of openness, not of secrecy. We expect money to be accounted for.

• You don’t check your brain at the door. We don’t tell you how to think or how to vote.

• Confession aims to be transformative, not legalistic.

• We believe God calls men and women equally. Men don’t tell women what to do.

• Plenty of opportunities for mission and service, peace and justice, caring for Creation.

• We don’t preach shame to anyone, including our Gay sons and daughters.

• We’re all about spiritual growth through the sacraments, prayer, meditation and work.

• Jesus was infallible. Mortals are not.

Come join us. Feel good about coming to church again!

For the nearest Episcopal Church by Zip Code, click here.++