By Janet McAfee
I recently met up with Wayne Karson and the handsome rescue dog he named “Lucky”. Lucky was gorgeously groomed, and happily bonded to his human. He scarcely resembles the thin bedraggled dog I rescued four years ago in the parking lot of the Devore San Bernardino County shelter. Wayne gratefully told me, “You know how much you do for these dogs when you save them, but you don’t know what you do for the people who adopt them. He is my first rescue dog, but the best dog I’ve ever had. Lucky brings joy to my life every day, and I am the ‘lucky’ one for having him in my life.”
It was heartwarming to hear how cherished Lucky is today. I recalled the January day four years past when I rescued Lucky, and thought about the contrast between his first home and his “luck” in finding an incredible second home with Wayne.
I was at the Devore shelter rescuing a dog for my “Mobile Mutts” program with Loving All Animals. A staff person pleadingly asked, “Will you take another dog?” There was a man at the counter trying to turn in a dog he had in his car, and there seemed to be an argument ensuing. I took him aside and said, “Let’s go outside to the parking lot.” He was relieved by my offer to take his dog after discovering that this public shelter charged relinquishing owners a $90 turn-in fee. I peered through the tinted car window and saw a small thin bedraggled white poodle who looked to be about 14 pounds. When he was lifted out of the automobile, I spotted horrid black marks on his face and prayed they were only tear stains. In broken English the man explained this happens “when he sleeps at night.”
I asked the dog’s owner, “Why are you giving him up?” His story stunned me. “We’ve had him one year and he grew too big. My daughter now has a little puppy her grandmother bought for her and she doesn’t want this one anymore. He makes too many messes. He grew too big.” Anticipating a negative answer, I asked if the dog was neutered only to hear the reply, “What is neutered?” Did he know this was a high kill shelter and his dog might not come out alive? He shrugged, not knowing and not caring to know. I grasped the sweet animal, biting my tongue not to say what I thought so as to not jeopardize the transaction.
The dog named Chato began to cry desperately scratching at my car window. I rolled down the window and yelled, “This dog is crying for you. I want you to see how he misses you!” I pondered the reality that this small dog had more capacity for love in his heart than the human who discarded him like an old coat.
Dogs tend to live in the moment, and I could soon feel the love from the grateful dog beside me in the car. He relaxed, gave me kisses, and enjoyed the view from the car window as we headed down the 10 freeway to the Coachella Valley.
That night the dog clung to me with incessant hugs, proving to be a sweet animal whose devotion to humans seemed intact in spite of his past. He soon moved on to another foster home. When I visited him, he bounded towards me with immeasurable joy from the connection between savior and the saved. I hugged my precious boy, and cried a few tears when I heard he was adopted shortly thereafter. I hoped he got the fabulous home he so deserved after the family who had no regard for him. I was gratified to meet Wayne Kantor of Culver City soon afterwards at one of our Yappy Hour parties. The transformed dog he renamed “Lucky” ran joyfully into my arms for a reunion hug. I was happy to hear the wonderful report from Lucky’s adopter.
Wayne reports he and Lucky became best friends that first day. He recalls Lucky slept at the bottom of his bed that night, and he awoke at 7:00am to the sweet pup giving him happy kisses. Lucky gets to go to work with Wayne to his office some days and is an integral part of his life. When he goes out for an evening, the first thing Wayne sees in the window of his home is the head of his loyal dog waiting. Wayne says, “I love this dog with all my heart. I hope more people understand how giving a rescue dog a second chance is one of the best things you can ever do.”
Visit Loving All Animals’ adoptable dogs and cats at www.lovingallanimals.org or call (760) 834-7000. You can get lucky and create your own happy ending.