Monday, February 23, 2009

Belle Gucci - Eleanor Shepherd

We have been empty nesters since 1999 when our daughter took the dog to live with her, when we were returning to France for a second assignment there. Now that we have moved into our retirement home, we decided we needed a little company, so on Saturday we went to the SPCA in search of an orphan.
The moment we walked into the room where the dogs were kept, I spotted him and he spotted me. It was love at first sight. His name was Shadow and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get acquainted. But, first the paperwork. We had to complete all of the forms so that we could be entrusted with this animal. I answered the questions to the best of my ability, but my confidence wavered as the adoption agent raised questions about some of my responses. In one case, I had checked the wrong box and gave the opposite answer to what I meant. In another case I had misunderstood the question. I began to perspire. This was obviously not going to be as easy as I thought.
Shadow was a golden retriever mix. He was a dog that needed space and I knew that. One of the questions on the form was what kind of a dwelling we lived in. I indicated that it was a condominium. There was no place for me to write that, this condominium was larger than the house where we lived in France for four years with our very active Brittany spaniel mixed dog. The other requirement for Shadow was access to a fenced yard. There seemed to be some possible negotiation about this one.
Do we live on the first floor of the condo? No, we are on the second floor. There is one flight of stairs to the outside door. We are not next to a park, although we are on the lakeshore and there is plenty of parkland there. No, it is not right at our door, we have to cross the street. The adoption agent tried to be helpful. She asked at least three people in charge if it was possible for us to have Shadow, in spite of us not meeting the exact criteria. There was no way they were going to release him to us. Despite my sadness, I knew they wanted to do the right thing for the dog. They were thinking of his needs and if you really love someone that is what you do, you put their needs before your own. I had to let Shadow go.
But we still wanted a pet. Maybe a cat is more realistic for a condo. We wandered around the cat room looking at them. After completing the forms, we were able to have a visit with a few of them. The first was a feisty little male kitten. He was not the least bit interested in cuddling. I suspected that life with him could become a battle of the wills. This was not the one.
The next was a female named Rose, who was reluctant to come out of her cage. She accepted some cuddling, but wanted to keep her distance, just the same. The chemistry was not working with her either.
Then we saw a kitten that seemed full of fun. Her antics amused us as she threw her ball into her water dish, just before coming out of her cage. She seemed like a good candidate.
We were trying to decide whether we should go through with this, when I spotted another cat. She was the only one in a stack of cages that were separate from all the rest. The place was a little overcrowded and I guess this was the only place they had left. She was a year old and had just returned from foster care. She peered out at me, as if to say, “Please, take me home?”
I asked if we could have a visit with her. As soon as we held her, we knew she was the one. She was both affectionate and independent and not too much of either, so we signed the adoption papers and she became ours. We could not bring her home until Monday, as she had to be sterilized. That was one of the clauses in the adoption agreement that we signed. The name she had been assigned was Gucci but we wanted her to be called Belle, because we think she is beautiful. So Belle Gucci has joined our lives and I am sure will teach us much and bring us joy as we make our home together.

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