Today I’m a guest blogger for the Delta Society in the Seattle PI. Here’s the link: http://blog.seattlepi.com/deltasociety/archives/215769.asp
For those of you who are TOO DANG LAZY to click to a different site, here’s the text:
Growing up, we never purchased a pet. We never even officially adopted a pet – they always adopted us. I think our house emanated a “WE’RE SUCKERS FOR UNLOVED ANIMALS!” vibe that broadcast out to all the homeless pets in a 30-mile radius. They’d somehow make their way to us, whether they were dogs, cats, iguanas or tarantulas, as if on a pilgrimage to the Promised Land.
That’s how we got Waldo, a gorgeous beast of a black lab. I don’t remember the day he showed up; he just sort of integrated himself into our family as if he’d been there all along. We didn’t realize at the time that this was his modus operandi – wandering from home to home looking for someone to shower him with love, in the form of food.
My mom put up flyers and called local shelters, trying to find his original owner. During all of this, my brother and I secretly hoped no one would contact us because Waldo was turning out to be hugely lovable and entertaining dog. We never got the call from his owner so we took Waldo to the vet, gave him a collar and ID tag and welcomed him to the family. And then the calls started coming in.
We lived in a fairly unpopulated area and the dogs were free to roam during the day and we’d put them in the fenced pen at night. It turns out that Waldo was making the most of his free time during the day. We were getting calls from people MILES away saying “We found your dog! He must have been missing for a long time because he was STARVING! “ The calls usually came in around 10 am…and Waldo was last seen at our house eating his breakfast that morning. I think he must have mastered public transit to cover the distances that he did.
These poor people told us how Waldo would wander into their garage looking pathetic and they would feed him dog food or cat food or in one case, burgers straight off the grill. It finally dawned on us that this was Waldo’s shtick. Even though he was large and CLEARLY NOT STARVING he had the pitiable look – you know, the look – down pat and he used it like a professional panhandler. That dog would do anything for more food.
Mom promptly got him a new ID tag that said “Wandering Waldo. Please do not feed me. My owners will pick me up,” and listed our phone number.
Waldo learned quickly that he wasn’t going to trick people into feeding him anymore so he advanced his game and started walking up to the Safeway a couple of miles from our house. During the summer months, they would keep the economy sized bags of dog food outside of the store and he’d just help himself to them. Mom and the store manager became well acquainted during her many trips to Safeway to pick up Waldo, and pay his bill after his feeding frenzies.
We’d watch their homecoming, mom behind the wheel looking appropriately annoyed, and Waldo sitting in the passenger seat looking through the windshield with a sheepish grin on his face. I’m not going to lie; my brother and I got a huge kick out of Waldo’s shenanigans!
Waldo REALLY tested mom’s patience when we got a call at 2 am from the Safeway deli manager informing us that Waldo had escaped his pen and wandered up to Safeway. This time, he figured out how to use the automatic doors, made his way to the deli section and was helping himself to packages of fresh meat. That was an expensive trip.
At the time, I didn’t understand why my mom would get so irritated with Waldo. I thought his antics were hilarious and I loved the “Whoops, guess I really screwed up again!” face he always put on when he returned home. Of course, I wasn’t the one driving around the countryside picking him up a couple of times a week, or worse yet, getting the 2 am call from an angry deli manager.
It’s amazing what we put up with from our pets. But we do it because they’re ours. Our family. Our charges. Our hearts. And they return the favor 100-fold every single day, by overlooking our faults and showering us with unbridled enthusiasm and unconditional love. I am blessed every time one of those goofy critters adopts me – should everyone be so lucky!