75: You Gotta Love a Tootsie

75: You Gotta Love a Tootsie

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

You Gotta Love a Tootsie

Fate loves the fearless.

~James Russell Lowell

Several years ago, I founded a Labrador Retriever rescue. With the job came many perks: kisses, handshakes and snuggle time. With it also came heartache and irritation.

I found myself in total disbelief at the number of Labs stranded and abandoned in shelters. Who would want to give up a Lab? Or any pet for that matter. It was mind-boggling, frustrating, and extremely upsetting. Those emotions were what fueled my desire to help as many of these precious animals as I could.

My rescue work often led me to a shelter in South Carolina. I lived in Georgia at the time, so making this lengthy trip was always tough, but it was worthwhile. On one particular trip, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my feistiest rescues yet.

As I pulled into the shelter, I was greeted by Brandy, the shelter manager. Brandy always tried her hardest to save as many animals as she could. She knew that my five-hour drive should not be in vain, so typically she would “save me” four or five Labs that were about to be killed.

We gave our standard greeting and then she took me to the holding tank, where she had four beautiful chocolate Labs in need of saving. They had already been spayed and neutered.

I gave Brandy a quick hug. “Thank you again for helping me help these Labs.”

I noticed that Brandy had something on her mind. I was eager to get on the road, but I had time to be a friend.

“Brandy, what’s up? You seem a little down.”

“Lisa, I kinda need your help with something. I hate to spring this on you, but . . .”

I interrupted. “Go ahead. You know if I can do it I will, and if I can’t I will anyway.”

This made Brandy laugh and she relaxed a little.

“I have a senior Lab in the back. She tested heartworm positive and is in really bad shape. Every rescue that has come by has turned her away. Can you just look at her for me? No pressure.”

No pressure? This was nothing but pressure. But I promised I would take a quick look.

We headed to the back of the shelter, which I often referred to as death row. If a shelter puts a dog all the way in the back, the chances for adoption are pretty slim.

When we approached the kennel, I looked down and just had to laugh out loud. Brandy looked at me a little strangely.

“Oh my, this Lab is adorable.” I saw a chunky chocolate and rather round, older girl, with a silvery-gray muzzle. She even had gray between her paws. She looked right up at me and gave a simple bark, letting me know she didn’t appreciate my chuckle. “She is built like a Tootsie Roll!”

This, of course, caused Brandy to laugh and then we both looked down to see our senior girl wagging her tail. I walked into the kennel and sat down. Looking at Brandy I said, “You know I am going to have to call her Tootsie; it would be a crime not to.”

Tootsie seemed to like her new name and curled right up in my lap as if she’d known me forever. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t leave her there. She needed to be in a loving home and spoiled rotten for whatever time she had left.

“I can’t thank you enough.” Brandy was just about in tears. “Tomorrow was her scheduled kill-date and I just didn’t know what I was going to do.”

We walked Ms. Tootsie to the front office and I filled out her paperwork. In the meantime the other four Labs inspected her from head to toe, and she didn’t like it. Out of nowhere came a ferocious growl that made me put my pen down.

To my amazement, the other Labs crouched down in a submissive stance. This old girl had laid down the law. She was a lady, and ladies don’t wish to be sniffed from head to toe. I would discover that this was one confident, savvy, and courageous dog!

I loaded up my original four Labs and realized I had nowhere for Tootsie except for the front seat. She gladly took it.

“Thanks again, Lisa,” Brandy said. “You just made my day.”

I smiled. “No, Brandy, you just made mine.”

With that, I hopped in my 4Runner ready to go home. Glancing over at Tootsie, I smiled. This silvery, round senior sat tall and majestically, with her eyes facing forward . . . towards her new life.

Tootsie came through her heartworm treatments like a champ. The vet also treated her for several skin irritations and an inner ear problem. This girl had been in bad shape. She even managed to gain a few more pounds, which only added to her delightful girth.

About two months after I rescued Tootsie, a delightful couple named Sue and Bill, a little older themselves, came to spend some time with a yellow female Lab named Hannah. After about an hour, they decided that Hannah just might be the one for them.

“Honey, I’m home!” my husband announced. He had taken a quick trip to the feed store and had taken Tootsie with him as usual. As the two strolled into the den, I heard Sue let out a small gasp.

“Oh my . . .” Sue sat on the loveseat and motioned for Tootsie to come to her, which she gladly did.

“Is this girl in need of a home?” Bill asked. “Because I think my wife just fell in love.”

The love was mutual. It was as if those two had known each other for a lifetime. Tootsie and Sue were in heaven and completely oblivious to anyone else. I knew Tootsie had just found her forever home.

Hannah went on to find her own forever home with a household full of little girls, which was just what she needed. And the last I heard about Tootsie, well let’s just say that sleeping in Sue and Bill’s bed, sharing their morning breakfast and vacationing at their beach house was right up her alley.

~Lisa Morris

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