Can’t Help Falling in Love

Can’t Help Falling in Love

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Can’t Help Falling in Love

A good dog deserves a good home.


Every once in a while an animal enters our shelter and touches hearts in a special way. Tino was that kind of fellow.

He came to the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) as a stray on July 5 sporting an ID tag in the shape of a purple bone. Repeated efforts to contact his human companion failed. After completion of his legal holding time, Tino was checked for health and behavior and deemed adoptable. He settled into his new home: kennel nine.

At first the large black and tan Siberian husky/German shepherd mix didn’t turn heads. Understandably. He was a rather plain-looking guy, a little paunchy and rarely sought the attention of passersby. His salt-and-pepper muzzle and yellow teeth didn’t help either. Flecks of gray, coupled with his quiet manner, suggested to all that this guy was eight years old and counting. Since the majority of customers who visit HSSV are looking for puppies or small dogs, Tino’s prospects for a quick turnaround were slim at best.

As his stay extended throughout the month of July, a funny thing happened. Both staff and volunteers alike began to take note of this sweet old guy and wanted to spend quality time with him. Tino’s life skyrocketed from ho-hum to sizzle as dog socializers began scheduling community outings and adoption counselors advised customers to view the special boy in kennel nine. Unfortunately, all this additional PR did nothing to move Tino into a loving home. Potential adopters continued to voice various reasons why Tino wasn’t quite right: too big, too old, too something or other.

Tino’s fate looked bleak.

Upstairs, someone else was becoming the object of shelter PR. Laura, the new communications manager, joined the staff on July 9. After several weeks of settling into her busy new job, she found herself darting downstairs several times a day to visit our animal guests. And it wasn’t very long before she noticed the cutie in kennel nine. Laura always had a soft spot for older dogs—they are loving, easy to train, and unlike puppies, there is no second-guessing as to how big they are going to get. Laura’s job as communications manager allowed her to champion Tino’s cause in a special, very public way. She featured his photo and bio in several community newspapers. She also featured him as a cyberpet on our Web site. She was sure someone would see his smiling face and fall in love, just as she had.

But despite Laura’s continuing efforts, nothing happened. Even though it is HSSV’s policy that adoptable animals can stay on as long as they are happy and healthy, the Tino Fan Club worried. Mid-September was approaching and he had already racked up more shelter days than any dog in recent memory.

Around that time, a bolt of lightning ignited Laura’s imagination. Maybe a little flash and dash might call attention to this low-key canine. With that insight, Laura made an executive decision: Tino’s name would be changed to Elvis. On September 19—Tino’s seventy-seventh day at the shelter—fate stepped in.

Laura was in the kennels dispensing her daily ration of doggy treats when a kindly seventy-six-year-old gentleman named Maurice approached her. “I’m an old guy looking for an old dog,” he said. “I want a gentle dog who won’t sit on the furniture and is smart enough to use a doggy door.”

With Maurice close behind, Laura marched up to kennel nine. “Meet Elvis,” she said.

Laura held her breath, waiting for sparks to fly.

Nothing. Elvis stayed focused on Laura and her treat sack.

“He seems a lot more interested in you than in me,” Maurice announced, disappointed.

Laura’s hopes were dashed. No sparks. No fireworks. The attraction so crucial for the human/animal bond to take hold just wasn’t happening for Maurice and Elvis.

A saddened Maurice left the adoption kennel and walked around to the courtyard. He glanced back at kennel nine. There was Elvis. For some reason, Elvis had run out into the open and stood at the fence. Their eyes met. In that moment Maurice knew he couldn’t leave him there. And that was that.

A few days after the adoption, Maurice took Elvis to the vet for a general checkup. He had a few things wrong: a little lump that needed to be removed and a sty on his eye, but nothing major. The vet cleaned his teeth and said that Elvis was in pretty good shape—for an old guy. In keeping with the spirit of his namesake, Elvis boasts one more attribute. The vet told Maurice that Elvis “has hips to die for.”

So now Elvis and Maurice’s days are filled with three long walks, visits to the Las Palmas Dog Park in Sunnyvale and quiet evenings sitting together. They even share treats every now and then.

Maurice told me that last week he prepared a nice banana split for himself. He left it on the counter and went into the garage for a minute. When he returned, it was nowhere in sight. Elvis, who was sitting nearby, had a smirk on his face. It was the whipped cream on his nose that gave him away.

Elvis touchedmany hearts during his lengthy stay here— our dog socializers, adoption counselors, Maurice—but most of all, our communications manager, Laura. Her tireless efforts paid off on the day her special ward was adopted. In order to spread the good news, she wrote a memo to her colleagues that day. It read: “Elvis has left the building.”

Patricia Smith

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