Sunday, December 13, 2009

Suzy Jean the Beauty Queen

Well, Auxiliary Dog (Suzy [Jean the Beauty Queen]) has been living with the groomer for a week. I must admit, I miss her. She has a sweet, happy little face and is always so glad to see her human. I felt horrible having to bring her to the groomer's shop last weekend, and even more horrible as I drove away and saw her looking forlornly out the window. Poor little girl, passed from person to person. As the kiddo reminded me, though, "We just have to remember it's best for Suzy this way."

Very true. When we first took Suzy in, I was a stay-at-home mom and could take Suzy with me most of the time. My son was still small enough and willing to sit in a grocery cart, and he would hold Suzy while I shopped. Restaurant owners occasionally let me hold her on my lap while I ate; she was content to sit still and was unnoticeable to other patrons. I took her to the kiddo's baseball games and other parents joked that I should charge $5 for them to hold her and let her warm them up on colder evenings. Everyone thought she was a cutie, and younger than her eleven years.

At home, she would hop up on the couch and snuggle behind my knees as I lay on my side. If I picked up her leash, she would perform her unique "tap dance of joy."

Then life sped up. I got my current job, which kept me out of the house for long stretches. The kiddo's activities got more complicated and it was harder to bring Suzy with us to all the places we needed to go. We got another dog in the hope that he would keep Suzy company, but she hardly noticed him; she wanted only us, only me, really. When we had to leave the house, Suzy would cry and cry, and exhibit other nervous behaviors, like constant paw-licking, indiscriminate peeing, and chewing on her crate door (she broke a tooth doing this).

I looked for another home for Suzy. A lovely woman I met while dogwalking said she would take her, but I wasn't sure her home was the right environment for Suzy. The woman already had a very large dog and I just wasn't convinced the change would be for the better. I posted an ad on Craigslist and several people replied. The thing was, most of the them didn't care that they didn't meet the requirements set forth in the ad. "Oh, I've been looking for a dog for my kids," said one, despite the fact that I'd decribed Suzy as a one-person dog and specifically said she wasn't a good dog for children. One respondent, who supposedly worked in a vet's office, said she could take Suzy with her to work. I thought I'd found the right owner, but then the respondent disappeared when I said I'd like to see her work environment.

We kept Suzy and did our best. I was determined not to send her to a shelter; she would have been scared and miserable there. I was also determined to give her a much better home than she had with us -- not just a different home, but a better one.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, our groomer called and asked if we still had our "little girl." I said we did. She asked if we were still looking for a home for her. I said we were. Turns out the groomer had lost her little girl dog a couple of months ago and although she still had her "little boys," she and her husband had decided it was time to bring another little girl home. We agreed to let Suzy spend a night or two at the groomer's house and see how things went.

My son carried Suzy into the groomer's shop last Saturday morning and we petted her goodbye. The groomer picked her up and kissed her and snuggled her. I hoped everything would work out. I tried not to look at Suzy's face in the window as we drove away. I felt like I'd given away one of my kids.

The next morning my cell phone rang. I recognized the groomer's number and cringed. Was she calling to say Suzy had had a rough night and things wouldn't work out? I let the call go to voicemail so I could listen to the message and prepare myself to call back.

The message was amazing: "We are IN LOVE with her!" said the groomer. "She is SUCH a LOVE! She just followed my husband around all over the place and laid down to watch him decorate the tree. Then she was sitting in his lap and he was petting her as he watched TV and she started to fall asleep. She is SO CUTE!" And so on. I was thrilled.

When I called the groomer, she said she definitely wanted to keep Suzy. So now Suzy has a new life. She has other dogs to keep her company at home, along with the groomer and her husband. She has a house with a yard. She has experienced owners who truly love dogs. And best of all, she gets to go to work with the groomer!

I miss her little face around here, but I know she's much happier in her new home. And I feel good knowing I held out long enough to make sure she went to the right place. Suzy will rarely be alone again, and is loved and adored. Just as she should be.

This is where Suzy will spend her days -- with dog lovers
and dogs, in a cozy environment with plenty of soft beds
and full water dishes scattered about, near her new owner.
The best possible world for this sweet little girl.