The pound was a stark and depressing place—damp, poorly lit, noisy, and smelly. Cages filled with dogs lined the walkway of doggie death row. I could see how living inside this "jail" would make dogs feel terrified, especially those who were former family pets. There were literally hundreds of dogs and only a handful of people looking to take one lucky dog home.
I walked up and down the aisle, carefully scanning those faces that said “Take me, take me!” A golden retriever mix ran up to the front of its cage to greet me. A pit bull mix licked my fingers when I tried to pet him through the cage. Others just barked uncontrollably as I walked past.
And then I saw her: a beautiful golden dog with thick, fluffy fur and eyes the color of amber. She lay there, motionless in the back of the kennel. As I walked by, she looked up at me, moving just her eyes. She was medium-sized with pointy ears that were pulled back tightly against her head. Her entire body was shaking uncontrollably as she lay in the back of her cage. Even her face was trembling. When I saw her dejected little, quivering face, I felt her pain in my heart like an arrow shot though my soul.
My friend Mary was standing near me, trying to get my attention and steer me to the cages that held Chihuahua mixes like my childhood dog, Siesta, and other miniature breeds. But I couldn't take my eyes off the golden dog. She was in a cage with three other rambunctious canines. They were loud, rowdy, out-of-control dogs who ran around in circles and lunged at anyone that walked past. One was a pure bread black and tan Rottweiler and the other two looked like shepherd mixes of some kind. They were knocking into a couple buckets of filthy drinking water, spilling it all over the bare, cement floor. Dirty water puddled underneath the poor golden dog, but still, she didn’t move.
Her eyes locked onto mine as I passed. She kept her watch on me without moving. Just her eyes followed me as I walked back and forth in front of her cage. Her silent despair spoke louder than the deafening growls, barks and whimpers that echoed and bounced off the walls.
I spotted an attendant a few cages away hosing down an empty kennel. She didn’t look too happy about working there, in her blue uniform with tall rubber boots over her pants. Her strained mouth told the story of a woman seeing death everyday as dogs were put down due to over crowding. As I walked toward her, I could feel amber eyes on my back. The golden dog had chosen me. There was no doubt about it.
“When is that dog going to be put down? The one in the back with the golden fur,” I asked.
She looked at her watch. “In about an hour.”
“I want that dog.”
Surprised, Mary asked if I was making the right choice. “Isn’t that dog sick?” she questioned.
“No, she’s just scared,” I explained as if I were a pet psychic. “I’m not going to keep her. I’m going to find her a good home.”
That day, Blondie became the first dog I parented all by myself. According to the pound’s records, her name had been Prissy, but that didn’t fit her at all. She needed something more hip to fit her new life. I named her Blondie after the famous ’70s and ’80s rock group.