I first saw his picture on January 16, 2012. I had been following Urgent for over six months and had seen many other dogs that peaked my interest, but for some reason this time was different. There was something about this guy that made me think about him night and day. I was hooked! His name was Max, #A0921905 a cow print boy from Manhattan. Reading his cage notes, I found that he seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: friendly, sweet, good with kids and other dogs. Now, to convince THE HUSBAND! It was Thursday, January 19th and I finally just put it all out there- Can we take a chance on him just as a foster? The answer was- We can try. I about jumped out of my skin! I couldn’t contact Zani’s fast enough.
Luckily, I had already filled out an application the month before with them and was pre-approved to foster or adopt. I didn’t want to waste one second working to get him out of the hell he was in. We wanted to get him Friday, but he had to be neutered and they wouldn’t release him. Luckily an angel who works near the shelter (who is also an Urgent supporter and adopter) went there and checked on him for me. She even sent us pictures and video of his sad little face. I had never even met her before and she was so incredibly kind!!! It took 2 days to get him neutered and finally on Saturday afternoon, January 21st, (the snow storm day) he was ready to come home. Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night was going to stop me from getting that dog! A second angel (a lifesaver really) offered to navigate and accompany my two children and I to the Manhattan ACC, as my husband was working.
Little did we know what we were in for! The first thing that struck me as I entered was the stench. I wasn’t even sure what I could be smelling… Urine? Feces? Death? I can only describe it as being the worst smell I have ever smelled. It brought tears to my children’s eyes. The filthy waiting room was almost full. There were people surrendering animals, some who looked like they might be homeless and just ducked inside for some warmth, and some people who were waiting to pick an animal up. We put our name on the list and proceeded to stand for the next hour, as people who came in after us were all helped before us. A woman was even there surrendering a guinea pig. It was heart breaking.
The first angel I hadn’t met yet came by to see if she could find us and so we got to meet. At that point I was just so thankful to see another friendly face! After awhile I went up to the adoption area to make sure he wasn’t up there alone, but he was nowhere to be found. What I did find were the saddest souls I have seen in my life. Some of the dogs had lifeless eyes. They had given up. I almost couldn’t look, but I forced myself to look at each one, and remember. When I went back downstairs, some seats had opened up, so I encouraged the kids to sit down as now it was approaching an hour and a half that we were waiting. The chairs were so disgusting, I really didn’t want my kids touching them, but what choice did I have? They couldn’t stand forever. I was feeling like we’d never get our boy, especially after they couldn’t find his meds, his paperwork or HIM. They took an excessively long time bringing him out and I had a real panicked moment when I feared they’d come out and tell me he had been killed by mistake.
Finally the moment came when the doors opened and there he was. I felt like crying, I was so filled with emotion. The kids oohed and ahhed over him and he was all tail wags at the attention. We took a few pictures, but really we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. We had to wait AGAIN though as they forgot to give us the e-collar and it ended up we didn’t get his shot records either. I didn’t even care. I wanted OUT. Mission accomplished! We had him and we were getting him out of there! As we walked out onto the dark city street I think he sensed that he would never see that place again. I felt light as a feather. We did it! He was ours!
Upon arriving home, I realized how very sick he was. He was lethargic and should NEVER have had surgery that morning. He was hacking and coughing and greenish brown goo was coming out of his nose. Nowhere had anyone noted that he was sick, but here was the evidence right in front of our eyes. (even our first angel had heard him coughing at the shelter and told me she was sure he was sick, but nobody there cared- they still sent him for surgery) I rushed him to the vet the next morning. He had kennel cough and pneumonia and was so severely dehydrated that he needed IV fluids. The vet said if he didn’t eat and drink on his own by that afternoon, that he’d have to be hospitalized and still might not make it. I bought him all kinds of wet food, mixed up concoctions, gave him ice cubes and water from my cupped hands. I was DETERMINED that he was going to get better! We gave him lots of love and TLC. He began eating and drinking a little and bit by bit we nursed him back to health.
Despite all he had been through he was so sweet and took everything he had to go through with a tail wag. The first 10 days were hairy, as he had to be separated from our other two dogs (Daisy 14 and Cadi 1) so they wouldn’t also get sick. I was so terribly nervous about the dogs finally meeting. We had already bonded with our boy we named Bandit and he had stolen our hearts. What would happen if the three couldn’t get along? Whatever it took, I was determined that we could find a way to make it work. Cadi and Bandit met first. I tried not to project the nervousness I was feeling. Right away the tails were a waggin’ and the bully smiles couldn’t have gotten any bigger! They were so happy to finally meet, it was like love at first sight. They ended that day with some races around the yard and snuggled together that first night.
It’s been a month and things really couldn’t be more perfect. Bandit is great with Daisy, he knows not to mess with an old lady- and he and Cadi are the best of friends. Cadi and Bandit cuddle up every night, whether it is on our laps, or next to each other on the couch, or at the foot of our bed. They act like they were meant to be together. Even my husband has fallen in love with Bandit. How could you not? He’s a love bug who is so great with everyone he meets and he loves our kids!
We really feel incredibly lucky that Bandit survived the Manhattan ACC and came to live with us in the suburbs of New Jersey. He has a big yard to play in, as many toys as he could play with, and most importantly the family and love he deserves. Bandit is not our first rescue, nor our first shelter dog, but every day he reaffirms to us that shelter dogs are not broken. They are the best and the only thing they need is love to see them through.