By Liz Mugavero
From the hills of Windham, Conn.
Most people who know me realize how attached I am to my first rescue dog, Shaggy. (Probably unhealthily so, but that’s a story for another blog post.) Shaggy is a Schnoodle, a cross between a miniature Schnauzer and a poodle. She’s a delightful little dog – very well behaved, loves people, other animals, children. Basically one of those dogs who would likely lick the burglar to death if he talked nicely to her and gave her a treat.
But hey, lots of dogs are cute, right? In my humble opinion, Shaggy’s got much more going for her – she’s pretty darn smart, too, starting with saving her own life as a death row dog.
Four years ago, she was a 10-month old puppy 24 hours away from being euthanized at a terrible shelter in South Carolina. This is what she looked like then, dirty and ratty (though still smiling) behind some rusted bars in a place where she was just another dog someone had dropped off, who likely wouldn’t make it out. But we’d already seen her picture on line, and really, who could resist this face?
And Shaggy was smarter than the average dog. She must have sensed she was close to being rescued. According to the transporter, the story goes like this: When the shelter staff came to get her to be euthanized, Shaggy decided to throw them off their game. She started playing with the guy, who in turn got cold feet pretty quickly and left her alone. She got a 24-hour reprieve. The transport group was able to get in that next day and get her out, and she was on her way to New England.
I couldn’t imagine life without Shaggy. She’s such a happy dog, and she makes everyone smile (except for a couple of the cats, whom she enjoys harassing a bit). Along with Maine coon cat Tuffy, Shaggy is the impetus for other main animal character in my series, the dog Scruffy. If you’ve been to any of my book events over the past couple of months, you may even have met her – she’s been allowed to come to many of them as a therapy dog in training.
Yes, she’ll be a working dog soon. It seemed wrong to not share her personality with people who need it most – folks in nursing homes, hospitals, hospice care, possibly even children who’ve experienced trauma, like the therapy dogs who helped the Newtown community heal. She’s already had experience with a couple of these situations, and has responded with amazing grace and comfort.
She’s on track to complete her Canine Good Citizen exam so she can have full access to helping people. She’s got a little more work to do, however – she hasn’t yet mastered the “come when called” command (only when she feels like it) or the “supervised separation” test. Yes, she’s pretty attached to her people as well. But with a little more practice, I have no doubt she’ll be helping and healing many people in the years to come.
Readers, tell us about the amazing animals you know.
Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries. Along with Shaggy, she’s owned by a number of rescue animals.