“Hi,” Flower said happily to Polly and me. “I’m so glad to see you both. Adelaide’s room is back here.” Polly and I followed her through the shelter into a small hallway with lines of rooms on both sides. Large dogs barked noisily and jumped against their doors as we passed by. At the fourth door on the left, we stopped and looked through the large window. My eyes fastened on the small black, white, and brown beagle lying on an elevated square cot covered with fleece. She looked at me with fearful brown eyes when I slowly entered the room by myself.
“Hi, Adelaide,” I said softly as I gradually sat down on the small stool by her bed. “I’m so glad to meet you. What a sweet girl you are,” I said, reaching out my folded hand toward her nose. She sniffed slightly for several seconds as I kept talking softly in a voice that sought to give her reassurance that all was well. I slowly moved my hand under her chin and tenderly stroked her soft fur, pleased that she allowed me to do this.
Polly remained outside the door with Flower, and watched us for several minutes, then silently entered the room. Addie looked over at her as Polly also talked in a soft, tender voice and extended her hand. As my daughter and I conveyed caring and kindness toward the little canine whose angry red wounds on her back and rear legs were so visible, Adelaide lay still. I looked around at the walls that encircled Adelaide, walls that had been lovingly painted with scenes portraying a room inside a home. Each of the walls was painted a soft green and each contained a mural. The wall behind me held a 4-shelf bookcase filled with books. The top bookcase shelf supported pretty, colorful flowers arranged in a red vase. The mural behind Adelaide held a yellow loveseat with plump, inviting orange and green pillows. An end table stood next to the couch with a wood-based lamp topped with a green lampshade. A third wall held a table with cheerfully colored knick knacks.
Flower quietly opened the door and stepped in. “Want to take Adelaide for a walk?”
“Absolutely,” I said, beaming. Flower fastened a leash to Adelaide’s collar and opened the door. Immediately a cacophony of loud barking started and Addie dropped to the floor, refusing to walk. Flower picked her up like a two-year-old child and carried her to the side door and outside where all was quiet. She put Adelaide on the ground and stroked her as she handed the leash to me.
A few years ago, the University of Virginia women’s softball team created a dog walking trail in a wooded area behind the facility. Polly, Adelaide, and I walked up to the trail and entered into the silent beauty of natural paths; strong trees; grassy areas; and wildflowers; and watched as Adelaide transformed before our delighted eyes. First her little tail started to wag, then she put her nose to the ground and sniffed as she walked ahead following wherever her nose led. When she headed off the trail, I gently tugged her leash or bent down to lift her back on trail, where she happily resumed her scented search in the outdoor world.
“I think she’d be just fine living with you,” Polly told me.
“So do I,” I replied, then said words from the depths of my heart. “I want to adopt her.”
Polly smiled and nodded. After we’d walked the entire trail, we returned to the facility. When we hiked close enough that Adelaide heard loud barking again, I lifted her into my arms, cherishing the feeling of embracing her. Adelaide offered no resistance as I carried her inside and I hoped that meant she felt some measure of trust in me to protect her. We returned to her room and sat close by as she lay back on her bed. Flower and her therapy friend, Jodie, returned and we talked more about the little canine who was the center of all our attention. I told Flower my wish to adopt Adelaide.
“She’s scheduled to be spayed four days from now and will be ready for you to take home by the weekend, if you decide you want to take her,” Fonda had told me in an email earlier that day. In the room, we all talked quietly a bit more, as we took turns gently stroking Adelaide, who moved her eyes still warily from one to the other of us as we spoke. Flower and Jodie left to see other dogs, opening the door to renewed loud barking. I kept stroking Adelaide to reassure the fear her small body silently emanated.
Suddenly Polly said, “Mom, can you take her home today? Do you have what you need for her? She’s terrified here. She would do so much better at your house, where it’s quiet.”
A few seconds later, after a quick mental inventory of what I needed to have for Adelaide at the house, I said, “Yes, I can. I’d like to borrow your small crate though. She’d feel lost in my big one.”
“We can stop on the way home and pick it up at my house,” Polly said. I nodded, then went to tell Flower our plan. Within ten minutes, Polly was driving us home as I sat in the back seat holding a trembling Adelaide, softly telling her, as I used to talk with foster children when I’d been a social worker, exactly what was happening. “Everything’s going to be fine, Adelaide, I promise you,” I said. She might have trembled a little less but her breathing remained rapid for the entire ride despite my efforts to calm her.
After Polly pulled into my driveway and turned off the engine, I remained in the car with Adelaide as my daughter carried the small crate into the house and quickly assembled it. She returned to the car, where I was talking to Adelaide. “You are home, Adelaide. This is your home and we’ll soon explore the glen, the woods, the stream, and the huge dog pen where we can run and play together.” I lifted her from the car, placed her on the grass, and said, “This way, Adelaide,” as I led her around the house to the back sliding glass door. She sniffed her way forward and my heart melted as I watched her tail wag just a little bit.
Addie’s first afternoon at home
Not a good shot above, but shows her trauma in her eyes