This is the text I sent to the SPCA where we adopted the greatest dog ever. If you can open your heart and home to a dog from a rescue organization, the rewards are endless.
My name is K****, and I was 10 in the summer of 1983 when my mother brought me and my 7-year-old sister to the SPCA to look for a dog to adopt. She had been researching breeds and we had decided on a cocker spaniel, but all the dogs we looked at kept barking at us, and didn't really seem very friendly. As we were about to leave a woman at the desk told us there was one dog that they had to put all by herself because she was too scared to be around all the other dogs, but that we might want to see if she was the dog for our family.
She took us in another room with some couches and brought in a small light brown mixed terrier who was just shaking from fright. When the woman put the dog on the floor, the dog went straight under the couch, crouched in the back, and we spent the rest of the time there trying to get her to come out. We finally managed to get her out, and Mom decided we would go home and talk to Dad about this dog, then come back the next day.
My sister and I were in LOVE. This dog needed us! So we came back the next day and picked up Sandy, named after the dog in the movie "Annie", even though she bore a resemblance only in color. I got to hold Sandy on my lap on the way home, and she shivered the entire ride from Salinas to Monterey.
We were told that she had been found on the highway by someone, and there were marks on her tummy that suggested that she'd been beaten. Even at 10 I knew that was a horrible thing to have to go through, and wanted to protect her from ever having to be hurt again.
There were some psychological scars as well. For the first two years Sandy would not go anywhere near Dad. She was afraid of all men for about that long, too. And we had to get a new leash for her after seeing that she was afraid of the chain one we tried to use to walk her, so we surmised that someone may have used one of those to punish her at one point.
After a couple of weeks with us, though, Sandy had learned her name, and was responding to it by wagging her tail with such force that we were afraid she'd hurt herself on the furniture. But we knew where she was! We'd just call her name, then look to see where the tail wagging thump was coming from.
We took her back to the SPCA Open House about then, and she was a little more comfortable being around other dogs at that point too. We even entered her in a contest, the Waggiest Tail contest. I got to be her human for that event, and while other contestants were being fed treats, I just stood with her and called her name and pet her, and she wagged like she was the happiest dog in the world. And she won first place. I truly think she was the happiest dog in the world at that point. She had a new home with a Mom, Dad, and two little girls that loved her unconditionally.
Over the years Sandy would sleep on my jacket, no matter where I'd put it, teaching me the only safe place was hanging in the closet where it belonged. She'd also put up with the indignities of little girls dressing her up and parading her around the neighborhood, but I think she may have secretly loved it. My Uncle T somehow found out that if you meowed at her she'd howl back at you, we're not sure if she thought you were singing and she wanted to sing too, but he made it seem like he was giving her pet therapy. He'd meow and get her going and then go, "There, there, let it all out. We know how your mom treated you like a cat!" It was a little bizarre, but we thought it was pretty funny, too.
Most of all, she liked to sleep touching me. In the chair on my lap, or in bed with me at night, it didn't matter, but she had to be touching me.
Sandy lived to be about 17, having to be put down in 1997 when her organs starting failing, but she went through a lot with our family. Lots of moves with the Navy, a divorce, college with me, and my first apartment. She was a loving and wonderful companion and growing up with her love meant so much to me.
I want to thank the wonderful people at the SPCA, and especially that woman behind the desk, who cared about a scared little dog that someone had discarded on the highway, who went on to be a great set of paw prints on my heart.