God bless Bernadette Peters.
God bless BARC Shelter.
Because of them, I can’t hear my television right now. There’s a 100 decibel roar in my living room.
Bosco is snoring.
Rewind to early July. My beautiful beagle had just died. It was unexpected and I was devastated. I sat in my too quiet house and wallowed in guilt about everything I wished I’d done differently. Then I hit a wall. I could continue to do nothing but miss my good boy, or I could go out and help other good dogs.
Self disclosure #1: I’m a Bernadette Peters fangirl. Have been since the 80’s. And I admire her devotion to charitable causes, one of which is Broadway Barks, an annual adoption event she runs in NYC with Mary Tyler Moore. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QWEHAT1LEc
I had my wallowing realization a few days before Broadway Barks 14, and asked some of the participating groups if I could volunteer. BARC Shelter said yes. Being the kind of person who does my homework, I studied BARC’s website to learn everything I could. Especially the dogs for adoption page.
Yeah, you know what happened next. I saw those faces. And I knew how I could REALLY help a good dog. I understood I could grieve for my boy and love another at the same time.
And then I figured if I was driving 90 miles, I may as well get there early, and go to the meet and greet Ms. Peters was having. Fangirrrrrrrrl…….
Self disclosure #2: I could never, ever, be an accessible celebrity. Everyone you meet needs to tell you their life story. If I were a celebrity, I would sit there thinking “shut up shut up shut up.” So of course I stood in front of Ms. Peters spewing maudlin words about my dog, and that maybe this was the day I’d fall in love with another. I must have stopped talking long enough for her to ask what type of dog I was interested in. I’d done some reading and pondering. And I said, “I’m thinking pit bull.”
I have never before seen someone actually light up. Let’s just say the woman is a passionate breed advocate. The next five minutes was a rollicking conversation about dogs at BARC, my house and yard, and my fear that a shelter in NYC would refuse to adopt to someone who lived in Pennsylvania.
Ms. Peters’ assistant got one whole word in, but it was the most important word:
She said it with such excitement, and I remember thinking “that must be a very special dog.”
Later that day, the doggie bus from BARC arrived. One big dog was not terribly thrilled to find himself on 45th Street. He really, really wanted to get on the bus and go back to the shelter. His handler made a compromise – they would stand near the bus, but not get on the bus.
Bosco stood next to the bus and stared at it. Every few minutes he’d see if his handler had changed her mind. She wasn’t falling for it, and asked for help in keeping him distracted. And that is how I wound up skritching his heinie for several hours. It didn’t help. He couldn’t have cared less about heinie skritches or the person giving them.
A few days later, I set off to Brooklyn to see all of the dogs. At BARC, they have you take the ones you like out for a walk so you can get to know them. I took Bosco out first – “out” being a relative term. I knew from his story on the website that the world made him nervous, and he didn’t like going for a walk.
That day was no different. He wouldn’t even look at me, and the kennel attendant had to start him moving for me. Every 10 feet or so he’d put on the brakes. The good thing was that he wanted to go back to the shelter so badly that he kept trying to head that way. As a person with a horrible sense of direction, this was very helpful. Toward the end of our walk, he gave me a tiny sideways look.
Then I took out “Opposite Dog.” He was energetic, interactive, affectionate and enthusiastic. He wanted to walk and walk and walk. We got lost and wound up where the attendant said we should not go. I learned that nobody bothers you when you’re with a pit bull.
Back at the shelter at last, I reluctantly returned the dog to Rop, who had just started his shift. I asked him to tell me about Bosco. “He takes a while,” he said, and shook his head. “They kept him in the basement.”
I had an agonizing ride home. Did I want a very young dog who, although he needed training badly, would settle in and be a lot of fun? Or the older dog who was aloof, afraid of everything, and needed a lot of help?
Ten miles from home, it clicked. While Opposite Dog would be a great addition to my life, he would also be a great addition to a lot of people’s lives. No matter what household he went to, he would fit in and thrive. But Bosco…. He needed someone who understood, who could give him a peaceful home, and help him work through his fears.
I could do that.
Bosco had a home.
Two months later, Ms. Peters was kind enough to take a few minutes after a concert and tell me his story. Found as a stray in the Bronx, Bosco was in the custody of Animal Care and Control. His hold time was up, and he was to be euthanized.
I bet you did not know this ….Bernadette Peters spends her free time rescuing dogs from the euthanasia list and bringing them to no kill shelters (fangirrrrrl!!!).
She saved Bosco, and took him to BARC. He was then adopted by someone who had no clue how to provide for a dog. He spent years IN THEIR BASEMENT, ignored, unsocialized, and unaware of the world. The one nice thing that can be said is they eventually realized that they should not have a dog, and returned him to BARC. He stayed in the shelter for two or three more years, terrified of everything outside, and unable to connect with potential adopters.
Now he is home. Now he is safe.
God bless Bernadette Peters.
God bless BARC shelter.