33: Sunny

33: Sunny

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?


If you can look at a dog and not feel vicarious excitement and affection, you must be a cat.

~Author Unknown

It was nearly Christmas when my first foster dog left for his forever home, and in no time at all, I was a proud foster mom to another. Sunny had been in the care of our rescue before. He had been adopted several years earlier, but when the household’s mom passed away, the father had his hands full working and taking care of a young son. The very energetic Sunny proved to be too much and the father decided to bring him back to us.

Sunny was one of the greatest dogs I ever had the misfortune of not keeping for myself. He was just a really cool dog. Easygoing and friendly, he liked everybody and everybody liked him. Everybody, that is, except for one man.

I did not meet this man, but I did meet his wife, his mother and his son. They called several times insisting they wanted this dog. They passed their home inspection, and my director approved the adoption. In retrospect, something niggled at me the day they picked him up. But I had attributed my misgivings to letting Sunny go rather than to the people taking him. A few days later I got a scathing e-mail from this woman stating they did not want the dog and we had to take him back. We would later learn that Sunny was a gift for the man I did not meet, not something our rescue would have approved had the family been honest with us up front. Each e-mail was worse than the one before it. And although she refused to make the trip to return the dog to me, the wife wanted him out of the house.

I was frantic to get Sunny away from these people, no longer sure what they would do with him. It was now three days before Christmas and a dangerous ice storm was predicted. Officials pleaded for people to avoid any unnecessary travel, stating road conditions would be treacherous. I would have to drive three hours north into the storm. In perfect conditions I couldn’t arrive before dark. Then I still had to get back home. My car didn’t even have front wheel drive. Messages flew back and forth via our group e-mail as we tried to put together a transport, when a message from a brand new volunteer named Mike popped up.

“I don’t live far from where the dog is. I’ll go get him.” He assured us the weather was not too bad yet and he could make it there and back home without a problem. The director approved and I talked to Mike on the phone, telling him Sunny’s history and how, to my utter shame and embarrassment, he happened to be in these people’s possession.

“So, he’s good with people?” Mike asked.

“Yes, absolutely,” I assured him. “He was a huge hit with the Girl Scouts who came to my house to make a donation to the rescue. He didn’t bother my cats and he was around numerous dogs while he was here. He’s a great dog.”

“Good,” Mike said. “I have to go if I’m going to beat the storm.”

“Please,” I begged, “be careful and let me know when you get home so I know you are both safe.”

“No problem.”

“And thank you . . ..” I could barely croak the words out, choked with relief and emotion. But he had already hung up.

I prayed. I prayed to the animal gods, the weather gods, the traffic gods, anybody and everybody’s guardian angels and Santa Claus.

Finally, an e-mail arrived.

“We’re back. No problem.”

I called my director to let her know. “Well, that’s one hurdle,” she said. “His wife was not on board with this. They’re having a dinner party for thirty people tonight.” I nearly fainted.

I spent the evening hoping that the theory of mental telepathy with animals was a fact.

“Please behave, Sunny,” I begged. “Please!” He was a great dog, but he was also playful and had a sense of humor. The visions I had dancing through my head were not of sugarplums. They were of Sunny snatching the turkey off the buffet table, chasing the cat, even though he had never bothered ours, dumping the tree, ruining evening gowns, destroying carpets, and being kicked out of the house along with his rescuer, shivering in the snow.

“Be a good boy, Sunny, be a good boy,” became my mantra as I checked my e-mail every few minutes throughout the evening. It was quite late when I finally went to bed, hoping the adage that no news was good news held true. I was up early, again checking my e-mail every few minutes. Nothing.

I finally heard the little chime announcing the arrival of an e-mail early that afternoon. I opened it and found a picture: Sunny’s backside as he was heading under the Christmas tree with no apparent regard for the ornaments or beautifully wrapped gifts. I groaned as I read the caption “I know that cat’s under here somewhere.”

A second picture: Sunny lying on the sofa next to a woman I would later learn was Mike’s wife. She did not look pleased and the caption said: “Ha! She doesn’t even let the stupid cat do this.” Finally, I got to the message.

“Sunny was a perfect gentleman all night. He sat politely at the front door and shook hands with each and every guest as they entered. He did not beg for food, although I suspect he got plenty. We took a vote when the party started to break up. Keep the dog, 30. Don’t keep the dog, 2. One of the two was my wife, the other was her best friend who had to vote no in order to maintain her position as my wife’s best friend.”

I was so relieved I cried.

“I don’t understand why those people didn’t want to keep him,” the e-mail continued. “This is a great dog!”

Several weeks later the director put her foot down, telling Mike he had to list Sunny for adoption on the website. Mike then admitted he couldn’t. Sunny had already found his forever home. That was four years ago, and they are still happily together.

I’m told even the wife loves him, although she doesn’t like to admit it.

~Rebecca Muchow

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