On the day I found Charlie, I wasn’t allowed to have dogs in my rental. My apartment was the second floor of a two-story house, and my landlord and his Rottweiler lived on the first floor. (My apartment, did, however, have the most fabulous turquoise stove in its vintage 1950’s kitchen.)
And so it was that Charlie came to live at the vet hospital pending adoption.
From the moment I found her, however, I knew that she was supposed to be my dog. She had her own large cage in the boarding room, but because it was only a cage, we started to let her roam free in the back of the hospital during quiet times. She was a fast learner, eager to please, so she quickly grasped the rules and expectations. We’d set a blanket on the floor and tell her “go to your bed,” and she turned in circles before settling down onto the blanket.
Charlie quickly mastered “go to your bed.” It got to the point where we’d put a small washcloth on the ground, issue the command, and she’d obsessively circle before settling down and making her body curl up as tiny as possible in an attempt to fit on the “bed”. The word “bed” came to mean any piece of cloth or soft surface we wanted her to sit and stay on.
Despite her talent for making herself nearly invisible, Charlie couldn’t stay in the hospital forever. It wasn’t fair to her, and it was against hospital rules. I wasn’t the only hospital employee who was falling in love with her, however. When the kennels got busy for Thanksgiving, she went home to stay with Candace, who was also crazy about her. I was so worried Candace was going to adopt Charlie for herself!
We told select clients about Charlie, thinking maybe she could find a home with one of them. The man who adopted her seemed to love her.
A few weeks later, the client complained that Charlie was too aggressive towards him. He said she’d growled at him from her cage, and when he hit her to shut her up, she bit him.
I was sickened to hear that someone had hit my beloved Charlie.
We were horrified and immediately requested that he return Charlie. He happily obliged, telling us there was something wrong with Charlie.
In reality, we knew there was something wrong with him.
As winter began to creep up on us, I knew something had to change. My manager started pressuring me to take Charlie because she couldn’t live there forever. Even worse, Charlie looked so dejected when I locked her up in her cage at night, knowing she was being left behind.
I began to hunt for a pet-friendly rental, one that would accept Charlie as well as my three cats, and I finally found it – a tri-level ranch with a large fenced yard. It had been vacant for a few months and the landlords were so happy to rent it that they couldn’t have cared less if I moved in with Noah’s Ark. I could barely afford it, but I was determined to bring my dog home for good.
It snowed on moving day. Our oil furnace was broken and the toilets were frozen solid from a lack of heat, but I finally had a forever home for Charlie. That night we snuggled up together under a blanket, and nothing else mattered.