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Shirley Zindler
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In the Nick of Time
Saving a shelter dog
Tyra, Hula, Breeze and Rocky

I’ve always felt that the best way to remember a beloved dog is to rescue another dog in need. I was missing my previous rescued Doberman when a friend who knows that I have a soft spot for them sent me a photo. It was of a Doberman scheduled for euthanasia in a shelter in southern California, many hours away. The dog was a black female of maybe 3 or 4 years old. The sweet face appealed to me and I requested more information. I was told that she was friendly and had come in as a stray. She had a microchip going back to Oaxaca, Mexico and the unfortunate name of “Slash” but the owner never claimed her and no one came to adopt her.

 I agreed to foster her and waited to hear back. On a Thursday I heard that she had to be pulled by the next day or she would be euthanized. I had no way to pick her up until Sunday as I had to work and there was no one to cover me. I offered to give the shelter a credit card or whatever it took to hold her. The response: “You don’t understand. We want to help but there is no room. She will be euthanized Friday unless she’s picked up by closing.”

It was a sad reality to hear that this shelter was so overcrowded that friendly, healthy dogs were being euthanized. It was a frantic scramble to try and find a way to save the dog. I would have driven there after work but they would be closed. It was a long shot for a dog that I hadn’t even been able to evaluate but I made a bunch of phone calls and fretted.

Finally one of the rescues got back to me with the news that a nearby kennel would board the dog for $10 a night and a rescue transport could bring her part way up to Northern California on Sunday. I was also asked to pick up a Pit Bull who had also been scheduled for euthanasia and had a foster home waiting.  We met on interstate Hwy 5 at a gas station on a desolate stretch of barren freeway.

 The rescue driver snapped a lead on “Slash” and brought her out. The dog greeted me eagerly, her stump of a tail wiggling with delight. I was thrilled with her sweet temperament and confident friendliness.  Her coat was dull and she was thin but I knew that was easily remedied. The Pit Bull was a sweetheart as well and I walked them both before loading them into crates in my station wagon and starting the long drive back.  As I glanced at the Dobie in the rear view mirror I decided to change her name to Breeze.

I dropped off the Pit with her foster family and when I got home I took Breeze out into my fenced pasture and let her loose. She began racing huge joyful circles around the field, darting back to give me kisses before she was off again. As the sun set over the trees I glanced at my watch and realized that she and the sweet little Pit Bull would have been dead by then if not for the combined efforts of a lot of people. My eyes filled with tears as I continued to watch her run.

I introduced Breeze to my complicated family of teens, husband, elderly house-mate and other dogs. She couldn’t have been any sweeter with soft playful body language and a constantly wagging tail. She also had an endearing habit of carrying her stuffed toys, her “babies” everywhere she went.  I was absolutely smitten.

The only snag was introducing Breeze to the cats. She had major cat issues and those took a lot of work to overcome and manage. She is such a truly wonderful dog in every other way though that it’s been more than worth it and she became a permanent member of our family.  Every time I watch her racing joyfully on the beach, playing with the other dogs or feel her sweet head on my lap, I’m thankful she’s alive.

I’m so grateful to all the people who spent their valuable time making it happen. My friend who sent me Breeze’s photo and made rescue arrangements, the overburdened shelter workers, the woman who agreed to board her for two nights and the people who transported her on their own time all had a hand in saving this wonderful girl’s life. For those of us who think dogs are one of our greatest treasures on earth, it’s time well spent.

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Shirley Zindler is an animal control officer in Northern California, and has personally fostered and rehomed more than 300 dogs. She has competed in obedience, agility, conformation and lure coursing, and has done pet therapy. Zindler just wrote a book The Secret Lives of Dog Catchers, about her experiences and contributes to Bark’s blog on a regular basis.

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Submitted by Carolyn | September 27 2012 |

"I’ve always felt that the best way to remember a beloved dog is to rescue another dog in need."

Me too. I have a recent adoptee helping me get over the loss of my beloved Maggie.

Great story, love your writing.

Submitted by shirley zindler | September 27 2012 |

Bless you Carolyn, for adopting a needy dog! What a wonderful legacy to your Maggie. No one will ever take her place, but the new one can occupy a whole new place in your heart.

Submitted by Cindy Tough | March 30 2014 |

I too rescued a beautiful dobie female. She is all that you describe about Breeze. Even the cat dilemma. I adopted a very fat cat before the dobie came to our home. So Francy, being as how she likes to chase cats, went after the fat cat only the cat couldn't run because she is too FAT!! Now the dog just nuzzles her and she hits the dog and that is over. However I have two other cats that are young and can run away which means they have to be seperated from the dobie. How did you train her to stop chasing? I would love to know. Thank you for your stories. I just discovered them on the Bark. Cindy

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