Friday, July 11, 2014


oil on canvas
8" x 10"

This is Sailor's story:

I adopted Sailor 2 weeks before I adopted Cleo but I "met" them at the same time. It was fate :-)

Hard to believe but one year ago tomorrow Sailor adopted me.  I initially went to the shelter because I'd seen a photo of Cleo on the New Hanover Sheriff's Office Animal Services Unit and have every intention of coming home with a large black Newfoundland mix.  Teri at NHSOASU walked me into the cage area toward Cleo's area but halfway down the hall was this small, trembling and terrified Cairn Terrier mix who was by far the smallest dog in the joint and without a doubt the most hysterical and frightened.  He was desperately climbing the chain link of his cage in an effort to get my attention.  It was impossible not to notice the little guy and feel his fear.  Teri escorted Cleo and me to one of the "get acquainted" rooms which also happened to be right outside of the little Cairn's cage.  All the while I was seeing if Cleo and I meshed, the Cairn was expending every ounce of energy to elicit my attention.  What to do?

I asked Teri about the little guy and, sensing my weakening resolve, she suggested bringing him in to join us.  I felt my resolve melting like a puddle.  Cleo was mostly just interested in the treats and didn't appear to be in any real distress at all.  Cleo was obviously a shelter celebrity and had everyone fawning over her. 

Sailor burst into the holding room and leapt into my arms.  He was shaking...behaving as if he was scared of Cleo (ha - what a joke that would turn out to be!) and frantic to avoid a return to his cage. 
Basically, Sailor was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  How could I put that little guy back in the cage and leave him behind?  Sometimes I wonder if Sailor and Cleo conspired to lure me into their plan of household domination.  One year later, neither of them will confess or comment.
Teri told me that she was sure Cleo would be adopted before the weekend was over - such a magnificent and gorgeous Newfie mix wouldn't stay available long.  She did her best to pave the way for my change of plans.

Cleo showed no particular unhappiness in being returned to her cage at the end of the room.  I'm not sure Sailor would have lived through another day there and, because of his hysterics, I found myself signing papers, being invited to choose a leash and collar color, and before I knew it I was walking out of the shelter with a mere shadow of the dog I had arrived to adopt. 

I put Sailor in the back seat and just shook my head at how funny life turns out when I make plans.  Before I was two miles from the shelter, Sailor had thrown up all over the back seat.  Ha! 

My sister Sharon Pate Batts had asked me to meet her somewhere so she could see my new baby so we rendezvoused at Petsmart.  Sailor was a scraggly looking, bony and sparsely furred canine who looked as if life had been rough and unkind.  He was picked up as a stray and weighed in at just over 13 lbs.  I can't convey the fright in his eyes but he looked so much as if he wanted to trust that it was all going to be ok.  His tail was firmly tucked and there was no spring in his step at all.  Sharon said he reminded her of her beloved dog Annie who had passed away a couple of years earlier after a long and happy life.  We both, however, thought the little guy needed some good food, a bath and a whole lot of love.  Fortunately, I could take care of all three of those things.

I felt so guilty leaving Cleo behind at the shelter but confident that she would find the right home - little did I know that less than two weeks later I would be back there signing more papers and bringing her home where she belonged! 

One year later, Sailor now weighs a robust 18 lbs, has no fleas and basically runs the house.  He's a wonderful cuddler, poses at the hint of a photo op and can be heard to emit a grumpy growl if he doesn't get enough sleep.  He's also a funny, sweet, smart and savvy little guy who has us all wrapped around his paw.  His coat is no longer scraggly but rich, thick and lustrous and he LOVES baths and a daily brushing.  Oh, and that tucked tail - it wags vigorously and often.

Sailor arrived two weeks after I had to say good bye to my sweet Cassie, who had to be put down following kidney failure.  My heart was still broken but I couldn't handle not having a dog.  Sailor needed me as much as I needed him. 

Thank you Sailor for giving us so many smiles this past year and entertaining us with your Terrier antics and backyard squirrel chasing prowess and for being such a happy and talented swimmer! 
I may have signed the adoption papers and paid the fee but we both know the truth, you rescued me.

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