Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Despite some inclement weather and people's tight end-of-year budgets, the winter holidays went fairly well at the shelter. We have, however, seen more than our usual share of dogs with mange and other ailments over the past week or so - along with more dogs than usual winding up with "unadoptable" ID cards, whether it be for behavioral or medical reasons.

Merlin started out on such a card, due to a lot of skittishness and a somewhat painful-looking collar burn. Understandably, he wasn't too keen on being handled around the face and neck. On our first encounter (while cleaning his kennel for him), Merlin and I had the opportunity to meet on his terms and at his speed, however, and he seemed respectful and gentle, if a bit nervous. Over the next couple of days, he relaxed a lot - and let me pet him gently on his nose, chin and neck; I was, however, mindful not to roughhouse where his collar had bit into him. In return, I got a plethora of tail-wags, some rather awkward licks on the cheek, and a grin that could melt granite.

When I went by the shelter on Monday, I made sure to swing by his kennel. Merlin was a bit taciturn at first, although his tail was going a mile a minute. "Hey, Merlin," I queried, "Who's the best dog in the shelter? Huh?" At that, he broke into an ear-to-ear grin, glomping me affectionately when I stepped into his kennel to refill his water. He does jump up a bit, although he's astonishingly gentle for such a large dog. And before I left, he laid his head on my chest, smiled, and let out a contented sigh.

I haven't checked today, but I'm pretty sure young Mr. Merlin has earned his green "adoptable" card once and for all. He's a bit rough and puppy-like still with his affection, but he certainly seems eager to please and unabashed with his admiration.

UPDATE (1/7): Well, Merlin earned his green card - along with the admiration of pretty much everyone who met him yesterday. Unfortunately, he was put to sleep today; I don't know the reason yet, but I suspect that the winter weather got the better of him and he fell ill last night.

You were well named, Merlin. And I'm going to miss you so very much.

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