Finding Charlie

A stray joins The Bark’s family
By Claudia Kawczynska, June 2012, Updated June 2015
Charlie A stray joins The Bark

Charlie, n

Charlie & Lola

As many of you know, losing Lenny, our 18-year-old Border Terrier mix who passed away late last year, was terribly hard for us. Although we have three wonderful female pups, I longed for a small, scruffy boy dog. I also knew that if we found one, he had to be able to successfully cohabitate with our girls. I wasn’t concerned about our Pointer, happy-go-lucky Lola, but the needs of Kit and Holly, a pair of scrappy but shy Beagle-mix sisters, had to be considered.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I spent an inordinate amount of time online, scouring Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet, and rescue and humane sites. I also visited local shelters and attended adoption events. Strangely I could not find many dogs with the appearance and temperament I was looking for. There were more females than males, and a few of these had fear issues, especially men-centered. But then, a few days before Christmas, I did my usual search for “small, male, young, JRT” and was rewarded with this charming photo of a 15-pound, year-old pup named Boca.

By this point, I had extended my search nationwide, which was an education in itself. For example, I found that some rescuers didn’t approve of the fact that we already had three dogs. A woman in Texas told me that, while they could arrange an out-of-state adoption, they would not consider adopting a dog into a “pack,” even though we more than met the other criteria, including having a fenced-in yard and devoting oodles of time to walks and doggie adventures.

Luckily, Boca was being fostered in Auburn, Calif., only two hours away. I immediately emailed them with a flurry of questions and information about us, as well as the kind of life we could provide for him. Once again, I lucked out. Not only did I get a fast response, but I was the first to express an interest in him. He had been assessed in his foster home and did well with (hatless) men, other dogs — including Greyhounds — and cats. I broke the news about Lola, Holly and Kit; and got their ok for a visit.


Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know.

Email Address:

Soon thereafter, Cameron, Lola and I drove north to meet him. He was being fostered by Shana Laursen of Greyhound Friends for Life at her remarkable, 1,000-acre facility, where she cares for both Greyhound and mixed-breed rescues. She had seen a photo of the little guy taken by Kern County Animal Control, who classified him as a stray, though whether or not he had been one was hard to know. Many shelters charge people a fee to surrender a dog, but no fee for bringing in a stray. This means that any history that could aid in placement is lost (definitely a policy that needs to be reconsidered).

Shana told us that this Bakersfield area shelter — which takes in an inordinate number of dogs and has one of the highest euthanasia rates in the state — is proactively transporting dogs to rescue groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, saving local rescuers a more than 12- hour round trip. Boca had only been in the shelter for about two weeks before grabbing Shana’s attention with his brindling and oh-too-sweet face. (She was fostering him in conjunction with another 501(c)(3), the Sacramento Independent Animal Rescuers Inc., which provides invaluable assistance to independent fosterers.)

By the time we met Boca, he had been with Shana for about three weeks, one of 47 dogs in her care. (Not only does she have lots of land and a truly amazing facility — with multiple buildings, and indoor and outdoor kenneling areas — she also has dedicated volunteers and a vet tech to call upon.) One look at Boca in all his high-jumping splendor told us that he was the dog for us. Once the papers were signed, we took him home.

Much to my great relief, when he met Lola, Kit and Holly there was no fuss whatsoever. It was as though they considered him to be a much younger, sprightlier Lenny. All was definitely right in their world — they were once again a pack of four.

As I write this, it’s been about six weeks since we adopted Boca — whom we renamed Charlie — and we still can’t believe how blessed we were to find him. (Read more about my observations of pack living)