So, it was time.
I'm not going to tell you that I wasn't nervous or that I knew what to expect. My mind was blank, my brain was open. The only thing I had an inkling of an idea about is that, although I'd came to adopt one dog, I was prepared to take two dogs home. Not that that was in my plans, just that something, one of those gut feelings I get now & then told me to get two dog tags made up instead of one the night before I left. I didn't question why I'd need two tags, I wasn't sure why, I just followed my gut. No dog is allowed to leave the Gentle Giants Rescue without a dog tag. No tag, no dog. Period.
I found myself a bit hesitant because I never leave my dogs in the SUV without the air conditioner running, but Burt and Tracy assured me it was cool enough, they'd be ok. Burt gave me that friendly little boy grin of his and promised he'd check on my kids, don't worry.
I walked up the slope of a hill, following the road that wove around and led to the Gentle Giant entrance. Dark wrought iron fencing at least 7 or 8 feet high hugged around a terrace area that flowed with ponds and pools of water and landscaping showering little purple flowers in greeting. The young family that had adopted before me were waiting to sign the final paper work on the midnight black Great Dane they'd adopted. Their restless 4 year old son proudly informed me, "His name is DUKE!"
We discussed how quickly my adoption process had happened (they were surprised, too) and how happy they were with the Great Dane going home with them, he was exactly what they wanted. The young mother was a trainer, so the family had dog experience on their side.
And then it was my turn.
I was escorted into the meet and greet area. A completely enclosed, but large space, much like an outdoor room except gravel glittered across the floor. White benches sat waiting in a half circle to sit on, holding the energy of the unexpected and anticipation of a parade of dogs to begin coming through the large castle like door.
I quietly took a deep cleansing breath, closed my eyes and turned my face up toward the afternoon sun shining it's blessing down upon my day and had my little talk with God, asking for his wisdom and grace.
And that I choose wisely.
I have two awesome dogs and I didn't want to do anything to screw that up. This was more than about an adoption for me. This was about a journey in life, one that hadn't always been easy.
Tracy Ward, Burt's wife and owners of Gentle Giant Rescue first sat and talked to me for a few minutes, getting the feel of me and what kind of dog I was looking for. Studying the kind of person I was.
My mind went blank, I took an invisible breath and pushed my shyness away.
I told her how I'd fell in love with Great Dane's when I'd help rescue my neighbors run away dog, but that in looking at her site (which she informed me is old & not up to date) I also fell in love with Borzoi's. I knew they didn't allow first time adopters or just anyone, for that fact, to adopt them, but that didn't keep me from being fascinated by them.
Finally my brain started to work. "I was interested in Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Grey Hounds, the mixed Deer Hound/Wolf Hounds & any other mixed breeds they had, and yes, if I could, I would love to see the Borzoi."
And then the parade of dogs began.
First she brought in a jewel eyed Harlequin Great Dane pup about a year old she's just gotten back. A rock star and his girlfriend had adopted a St. Bernard & a Great Dane, but when they broke up, the rock star found it hard to handle both dogs in his travels. An awesome pup, who promptly sat on my lap despite his gangly huge puppy body.
Next a seven month old playfully happy Blue Merle Great Dane puppy released by his family because the husband didn't want a big dog. (which makes you wonder why they got a Great Dane) A unique and happy puppy, busy with a capitol B! He hugged me, he sat on my lap, he checked the entire area out. I loved him!
I had heard Tracy mention Fostering to the young family who had adopted before me and something about that tugged at my heart. Before she left to get the next dog I told her that I might be interested in Fostering as well.
What I hadn't told her yet is that I knew there was a reason I was there and I knew there was a reason I'd brought two dog tags instead of just one. I was following that gut feeling. An intuition built on love.
Tracy jumped right on the idea of my Fostering, telling me she had an older Great Dane that would be hard to adopt out because he wasn't perfect and may never be able to walk normal again. He'd been rescued last month from Taiwan, she hadn't introduced him to anyone, would I mind if she took a video of him with me? "Of course not, I'd love to meet him .. "
I waited a few minutes and Tracy was back, "This is Benny," she said, "We flew over to Taiwan and rescued three Great Danes, one died on the way back. He was kept inside of an apartment for most of the 12 years of his life, when we rescued him he could barely walk. He'll probably never walk normal, but he's very sweet and is a really good dog."
From the minute Benny came through the castle like door, his eyes glowed with a happiness I can't describe. One that says, "life loves me" even though, obviously, his life had not been easy. Although slightly bent over, with a walk that shuffled like an old mans, he pulled at the end of his leash and rushed over to the white bench I was sitting on, greeting me like he had known me all of his life, "I'm so happy to see you, where have you been?"
He danced in a hobbled excited way, licking my face with so much enthusiasm he knocked my straw hat off which I picked up and placed back on his head. He loved that. He wore such a grin he looked like he was laughing and having the best time of his life. He was a big boy with a bent ear and a muzzle that said, "I've aged in life, I'm wise but I'm soft. Pet me, love me, you won't regret it."
"makes mental notes"
A wheaten Irish Wolf Hound, so very timid and shy, came through. A sweet, beautiful little girl that wasn't sure if she really wanted to be there. I wanted to calm her, to let her know that everything would be all right. It was moments like those that I was so grateful that these beautiful Gentle Giants had Tracy and Burt Ward looking out for them. The love and care they put into these dogs is so extremely obvious. Then a Deer Hound mix, a tiger striped Mastiff that had just had puppies (the most AMAZING coloring on her perfectly black and fawn striped body).
"making mental notes"
Then came Lava, a black and white year old Borzoi puppy. Quietly, carefully walking through the castle sized door to the meet and greet area. Tail wagging she came up and gave me a kiss. Calm, a bit timid, but not overly so. A gentle energy flowed around her, more watchful than busy. Tracy joked about drawings she did as a child and how she secretly thought Borzoi were the real Unicorns with the way they always held one ear up.
I was surprised but pleased to see the Borzoi's since they were really picky about who adopts them. Tracy brought in long hair, short hair and, like Lava, a medium hair Borzoi. She brought in an older Borzoi to show me how big Lava would get. (big!)
My mind was spinning with dogs and it was getting late. I needed to get back down to the girly-girl SUV and take care of my two Ark Kids... I couldn't decide. I wasn't sure.
I was torn between the 7 month old Blue Merle Great Dane puppy and Lava. One so busy and into everything, the other calm and watchful.
There wasn't any question about Benny. He was coming home with me, but I kept quiet about it. I needed to think everything through. We'd decided I'd take a rest, find my hotel and call her by midnight to let her know which dog(s) I'd be taking home with me ...
to be continued ...
Suddenly what I thought I had weeks, even months, to prepare for needed action in the NOW. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but in the "figure it out" NOW.
After reading the Gentle Giant Rescue adoption regulation and requirements (mandatory) and knowing what my summer schedule was looking like, in order to add to my Ark Family I would have to act soon.
Like within the next week.
Would it even be possible to pull it all together?
Just as the sun was waking up from the night's slumber, stretching it's morning glow across the early horizon the following Saturday, Galen, Izzy and I, armed with luggage and dog food for an overnight stay headed out on a five hour drive to the Gentle Giant's Rescue.
At this point I had no idea of what kind of dog we'd be bringing home or even what was available. It could be big, it could be small. It could be young, it could be old. Mostly, what it would be is a new Ark Child. I loved who ever I was bringing home before I'd even met them.
Everything was piecing together. Everything was going smoothly. Travel and the traffic were clipping right along and I was making good time.
And then traffic came to a dead stand still. Nothing moved. It was like time had stood still and everyone held their breath.
There had been an accident.
Some where between the first accident (a bad one) and the second (because one accident in one day apparently wasn't enough) I got off track and missed my exit.
I'm driving and driving and driving and things just don't feel right. I'm getting that knot in my gut that say's "ummm, blondie, better let the other you drive for a while." (you know, the responsible part time adult that lives inside of me) *grins*
Then the tell tale signs came that you can't ignore. The signs that say you're SO LOST, SO far out of the way that you've actually driven to some where you (small drum roll please) KNOW where is!! (if you know me, you know there are not many places in the world I can say that about.)
Two signs told me I was WAY Lost and hours past my destination.
Ortega Highway Exit 74. San Diego.
Damn and Oops!!
Time to dial 911 Blonde Directions Please. Speed dial.
Fortunately the friend I had on speed dial gives GREAT Blonde directions and had me turned around, taking a shortcut and headed back in the RIGHT direction in no time! Unfortunately my five hour drive had turned into a NINE HOUR drive. I'd all ready called Gentle Giants Rescue to let them know I'd be late and they were totally cool about it.
Calm. Relax. I'll get there in time. I'll get there when I'm supposed to be there.
The original scheduled appointment for our adoption interview was 1 o'clock. Had I not come up on two accidents and taken a scenic detour I would have been very early. Now I was late. And exhausted.
There was no time to give in to fatigue, so after a few phone calls back & forth between Tracy & Burt Ward, owners of Gentle Giants Rescue, I parked below their massive property and crawled in the back with Galen & Izzy to rest and wait my turn while the adoption taking place before me wrapped up.
Time passed at a casual slow pace, I sunk into the dog beds in the back of the girly-girl SUV, snuggling with Galen & Izzy. I realized I'd probably have dog hair every where on me, but I didn't care.
We'd just make it a new fashion trend. *smiles*
Then the call came.
It was my turn. Could I come up to the main gate, please?
to be cont ...
I've always known I would get another puppy. It'd been a plan for the last two years. I'd looked off and on, never quite finding the right fit or deciding exactly what kind of puppy the next Ark Kid would be.
The plan had begun with wanting to find a smaller playmate for Kitty, who was more of a dog trapped inside a cat's body than 100% cat. Sometimes Kitty's feelings would get so hurt when Galen & Izzy were outside playing and he couldn't go with them. We have coyotes in the acreage behind us and I didn't want my little hunter to become coyote bait. Although he'd rather be a dog, he'd reminded us that he truly was all cat and once was enough.
Galen would notice Kitty watching as he and Izzy ran, dodging & dancing around each other in the back yard and often would stop, come back inside and play just with Kitty. Those moments almost broke my heart they were so thoughtful and so sweet, but that's my Galen, he's a sweet boy.
So, fast forward to Mother's Day and me spreading myself too thin, busy, fielding calls & being helpful, catching up & consumed with one of those days where everything clicked even though my head was in a million different places at one time. I was missing Kitty (it is still a great loss & I continue remain hopeful for his return), missing Jo with a more pronounced edge than usual this Mother's Day, and at the same time feeling filled with gratitude for a milestone of time that has passed yielding a celebration in my life.
Some where in the midst of a dozen multi-tasking thoughts, the neighbors Great Dane I'd recently help catch and return home after he'd ran away popped into my head.
And then the dangers of Google began.
Google: Great Dane
The results were many, but in the stream of many one caught my eye. A site I had looked at a year or so before. Gentle Giants Rescue.
Some where in the midst of a really busy day I'd decided, "why not?" and started to fill out the adoption application for the Gentle Giants Rescue. I might as well get the process started, after all, it would take a while. There was plenty of time to get ready.
So there I was, on Mother's Day, filling out this adoption application in between everything else I was doing, thinking that it'd be weeks before I'd have an answer or even know if I was approved to adopt one of these Gentle Giants.
Around three that afternoon I hit the SEND button and there my application went, vanishing into cyber space waiting to land in the Gentle Giants email inbox.
Not giving it a second thought, I continued on with my busy day, thoughts ranging from future plans to gratitude mixed with a bit of grief over Kitty and Jo.
Exhausted, but pleased after a day full of accomplishment, the subject of an unfamiliar email address caught my attention as I was shutting down my computer for the night.
Your Application to Adopt a Gentle Giant -- Approved!!
Approved! So soon? I thought it would take weeks. At the very least DAYS. Approved at 11:52 p.m. on Mother's Day.
I smiled inside.
It was meant to be.
Please Help Me Find My Way Home!!
My name is Kitty. I'm a male neutered house cat.
I was lost at Motel 6, 160 E. Calle Primera, San Ysidro CA at approx 4 a.m. on October 28, 2008.
I could be anywhere in the San Ysidro, San Diego Or Tijuana area.
My family loves and misses me very much.
Please email email@example.com
with information or to collect reward.
If you have, know or can get any information in the San Ysidro area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a $200 reward for his safe return.
Any help or inforamtion is all greatly appreciate.
*hugs* and With Love,