Today’s installment of Portia and Roscoe is dedicated to a shelter friend of mine who lost her husband this past week. Dave struggled with lung cancer as well as a host of chronic ailments, and he finally transitioned Thursday evening. Valerye has her daughter and her dog to help her heal, but this is a little request for healing thoughts, prayers, and white light. May she find peace and healing in the following days while Dave reconnects with being whole and healthy in whatever afterlife he believes in.
I sat nervously on a bench in an outside visitation pen while the volunteer went inside to collect Prince Twinkletoes from his kennel. I’d filled out the basic application to prove I wasn’t an animal abuser, but I felt a little uneasy to have given up so much personal info before I’d committed to anything. I hoped they were careful about shredding things.
The gate creaked open, and Prince, I couldn’t use his full ridiculous name, dragged the volunteer behind him as he bounded towards me. He reared up on his back legs to tackle me at the shoulders and vigorously licked my face.
“Hey, big guy,” I laughed, rubbing his massive, chunky head. “Nice to meet you, too, but I don’t normally go that far on a first date.”
The volunteer let our her breath. “I was afraid his exuberance would put you off,” she admitted. “It’s lost Prince Twinkletoes several potential adoptions, and we can’t get him to stop despite trying several training methods.”
“I grew up with dogs, so I don’t mind the slobbery kisses,” I replied. “I just haven’t had a dog since I graduated from high school and moved to the city.”
My muscular canine companion removed his feet from my shoulders while I spoke with the volunteer and began running laps around the pen’s fence line. He screeched to a halt when he reached the humans, then rapidly returned to frolicking in the fresh air.
I raised an eyebrow and turned back to the volunteer. “Is he always this…active?”
“Prince loves to run around when he gets out of the cage,” she answered, “but he probably will calm down a little once he’s not spending most of his life cooped up. I don’t think he’s ever going to be low key though, at least not until he’s old enough to be arthritic.”
A large, black shadow materialized at my feet holding a huge stuffed basketball toy in its mouth. “You want me to throw that?” I asked in a high pitched voice. Prince’s tail began wagging in double time, and he put a large paw on my leg. I grabbed the toy and lobbed it weakly toward the other end of the space. It was a terrible throw, but Prince ran after it with as much enthusiasm as if I were a MLB pitcher going for a perfect game.
A goofy smile spread across my face, and I crouched down. “Come here, big guy! Bring me the ball!” Prince ripped towards me, but he miscalculated the stopping distance. About 80 pounds of dog slid into me knocking on my butt. Another laugh escaped, and I realized I felt happier fooling around with this incongruously named pit mix than I had in years.
“I really, really like him,” I told the volunteer. “What would I need to do to give him a try?”
Her face lit up. “Well, our shelter director, who also supervises adoptions, wanted to talk to you a little, but it’s just a formality. She said she’d be at the front desk where you came in if you liked Prince Twinkletoes. I want to let him burn off some more energy before we go back inside.”
I headed back to the front desk and spotted a middle-aged woman with glasses and a short stylish hairstyle typing on a computer. I cleared my throat nervously unsure if I were interrupting anything important.
She looked up and smiled, holding out her right hand to shake. “You must be Portia, right? I’m Martha Jones, the shelter director.”
“I’m Portia Lane,” I said, accepting her hand. “I was told you wanted to speak with me about Prince Twinkletoes.”
“Your application looks good overall,” Martha started, “but you’ve never owned a dog as an adult, let alone a pit bull. I just wanted to see why you’re so interested in the big guy.”
I shrugged. “I just felt something unexpected when we made eye contact, some sort of a connection. Okay, and my aunt, who raised me, is an animal rescuer, so I was drawn to adopting a dog who had been here a while.”
“Who’s your aunt?” Martha smiled. “Chances are we’ve come into contact since the rescue world is pretty small.”
“Have you ever heard of Josephine Lane?” I blushed, ducking my head. “She lives in a smaller town just outside of the city because they have looser limits on how many animals can be at one residence.”
Martha’s warm smile transformed into a full grin. “You’re the baby niece Josephine Lane took in 32 years ago? I should have recognized the name; it’s certainly unique. Did you know she credits you with bringing a horribly abused, undersocialized dog out of her shell?”
“Are you talking about Missy?” I asked in confusion. I had always known that Missy preferred me over Aunt Jo, but by the time I could remember anything we were already attached at the hip.
“Missy came from here,” Martha said. “We didn’t have the resources to help her, and your aunt stepped up to see if a home environment would help. For whatever reason your crying triggered some type of maternal instinct, and that was the key to helping Missy heal.”
My eyes widened. I vaguely recognized the story, but I didn’t realize Aunt Jo had told anyone else. I tried not to make eye contact with Martha, mortified that it had been shared outside of the family and close friends.
“If you’re Josephine Lane’s niece, I know you have a good mentor,” Martha continued. “We’re also here as a resource as well. However, I’d like you to sleep on it, all right? Let’s see if you still feel as enthusiastic in the morning. Besides it won’t hurt to talk to your aunt about your possible adoption if you feel inclined to do so.”
I stood up and extended my hand again. “I need to get some supplies anyway. I should be back tomorrow afternoon.”
I rushed home to take inventory of my basic dog items, then picked up the phone. My aunt’s warm personality flooded through the hand set the second she picked up, and I spoke rapidly. “Hey, Aunt Jo, I think I’ve found a dog I want to adopt. What do you think of the name Roscoe?”