Today is my anniversary; that is, four years ago today I started volunteering at the shelter. Or at least, four years ago today, I was logged into its electronic scheduling system. I can recall snippets of first experiences, but most memorable is Constance, my first love and my introduction to Pitbulls.
As I remember, Constance arrived as Gizmo, a medium to smallish black and white Pitbull mix who occupied a run in what would now be called the holding kennels. In those days, staff and walkers made up names for strays that sometimes stuck and sometimes didn’t when the dog moved into the adoption quarters. Whether she was a stray or a surrender, she definitely was once someone’s pet, a sweet and happy wiggle worm.
On one of my first walks with Constance, I took her to a play yard, which then was an expansive stretch of fenced property. We played fetch. We ambled. Constance wandered to one end while I explored the other. When I looked up, I saw her racing toward me at full speed.
I felt a stab of fear: Here I was with a Pitbull hurling herself at – my feet. She stopped, showing sheer delight at my presence. How could I have let you get that far away from me, she seemed to say. Never again.
Constance occupied the first kennel to the left as customers walked into the building, a drafty concrete enclosure. Weeks passed by with no adoption. We enjoyed many walks through fallen leaves, followed by a companionable rest on a bench, Constance snuggling under my arm.
Pits, I learned, love to snuggle.
One day as I walked her, I noticed blood splattered on my pants leg. I stopped, looked over her body, her face, her feet, into her mouth. No obvious wounds, but nonetheless alarming.
Whap whap whap, she slapped me with her tail. Then I saw, the end of her tail was raw, a fairly common condition nicknamed “happy tail” that results when dogs wag their tails against the hard cinderblock walls of the kennel. After that, Constance donned a bandage on the tip of her tail.
More weeks with no adoption, although several customers admired her disposition when they met her. One man commented that she clearly adored me. She would worship anyone who gave her the chance, I suggested. A young couple showed a keen interest in her but they lived in an apartment. I didn’t understand why that was a deal-breaker, until I learned that some apartment complexes don’t allow Pits, even perfect ones.
Snow started to fall. Constance, like many of the Pits, needed extra protection from the cold. For her, it was a red sweater with loops that strapped around her legs. She looked clownish, but accepted whatever we wanted of her.
Then one afternoon I arrived to walk dogs and she was gone. When, to whom, where, I don’t know. I trust to someone who appreciates her. Adopted & Gone! ©