A little over a week ago, a local realtor sent out a query to everyone in our neighborhood that read, “Recognize this dog? She was found this morning in Santa Rosa Valley near Pradera! Help in finding her owner please. No tag – but she has a pink collar.”
The photo pulled on my heartstrings and I immediately responded, “She looks so sweet. I love German Shepards. Let me know if she doesn’t find her home.” Within a few hours, the woman who found her called me and said that her dogs were going ballistic in her backyard and weren’t taking too kindly to “this very sweet pup.” I knew would happen next. This poor dog would be picked-up by animal control and would eventually be euthanized if no one claimed her. So, I did what any dog-loving, lint-brush carrying, American would do; I offered to take her in. My family and our own two dogs took to the animal quickly. “Sasha” as we soon called her, quickly fell into place as a beta female who became subservient to our own alpha female labrador. Our sweet, little, male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, surprisingly, became “boss.” Suddenly, I had a pack of dogs and our home felt smaller, while our hearts grew bigger by the minute as we welcomed our new friend.
By the second day, I brought “Sasha” into the office with me where she laid by the foot of my chair. Wherever I went she followed me. Not once did she have an accident throughout the day. I walked her around outside and learned that she was perfectly trained on a leash. If I dropped the leash, she sidled up next to me and didn’t stray. She jumped easily into the car. She nuzzled me lovingly below my neck. Back at home, she developed a playful fascination with the cat. She fetched a ball. She loved the kids. What started as a nagging feeling, became a clear voice blasting from loudspeakers; THIS DOG ISN’T MINE AND SOMEONE IS LOOKING FOR HER. While the very notion pulled on my heartstrings, I knew “Sasha” was owned by a loving family that wanted her back, and I had to somehow help her find her way home. But, the realtor’s picture returned no response. We called the pound, and no one had inquired about her. I posted an ad on Craig’s List and got no replies. I posted an ad on http://www.petamberalert.com. I posted an ad on every single missing animal website I could find, and still, no clues. Nothing. I started to think that maybe “Sasha” was abandoned after all.
By the third day, I started to suspect that “Sasha” was part Husky/Shepard/Timber Wolf mix. She looked like a wolf, but had German Shepard markings and a husky tail and snow nose. She walked with her tail and head down when she wasn’t engaged by something, a common trait in a wolf. So, I contacted a hybrid/wolf dog breeder who asked me to send her some pictures. The breeder confirmed that likely, this exquisite creature was in fact, fifty to sixty percent timber wolf. Of course, that raised immediate concerns which were all dispelled by the breeder, who educated me for an hour on how wolf dogs make the perfect pets. I wanted to keep her.
By Friday night, I was in love. My heart was telling me to stop looking for a family that didn’t exist, but my head was telling me that I needed to keep trying to find this animal’s home. So, I went to the county animal control website and found a link to http://www.petharbor.com. This website connects missing animals and owners to people who find them. My post read something like, “Found possible Wolf-Hybrid, German Shepard/Husky mix in the Santa Rosa Valley. Beautiful Animal. Sweet as Pie.”
By the next morning, I had received an email connecting me with “Sasha’s” owner. It took every ounce of my being to call her and arrange a time for the pet to be returned. “What’s her name?” I asked in a shaky voice while fighting back my tears. “Nala,” the owner said. While I was crushed, Nala’s owner informed me that her five-year-old daughter had been praying every single night for Nala’s safety and that she’d find her way back home to her.
Around 2:00 that afternoon, a young couple with a toddler and five-year-old in tow, stood on my doorstep. I opened the door and Nala, all one-hundred and twenty pounds of her, stood on her hind paws and licked her owner’s faces, one-by-one. And, then a sweet, little five-year-old girl, hands me a bag. Inside was a box of cupcakes. “Thank you for taking care of our dog,” she said. And, that’s all it took, just a few seconds, for every ounce of my pain to be stripped away, and be replaced by the gladness that I felt that I found Nala’s little girl.
Of course, I had to capture the video of the dog’s reunion with her family. I wanted to remember the animal that we loved so quickly and that we wanted to call our own. I’m sorry the video is cut-off, but the five-year-old is giving me a gift of cupcakes and delivering me the sweetest smile on the face of the planet. I wanted to see that with my own eyes and not through the lens of a camera. So, I inadvertently cut the video short, right at the best part, but you get the point.