This is Dribble. He just turned two today!
He has floppy ears, long soft fur, the most dashing bushy tail and an orange heart-shaped face.
He loves to topple water bowls, bully other dogs (including puppies, jack russells and oh yes - a German shepherd) and chase birds and cats. He will also snap at other dogs when vying for treats. He thinks sitting on command and looking cute can get him everything his heart desires.
See how gleeful he is to topple the bowl?
He always gets a shock each time I lift the lid of the roadside dustbins and let it fall with a bang. He doesn't dare to walk across metal sewage covers along concrete pavements. He is scared of construction workers and he is very wary of jumping across even the smallest drains (because he always falls in before he reaches the other end).
In short, our Dribble is a weird mix of gung ho bravado and a scaredy-dog.
But there is also so much to love about him.
Dribble grew up in the shelter. We're his family and the shelter is all he has ever known as home. I brought him back for a home stay once. I felt so terrible because I could sense he was bored with mundane home life and that he missed the shelter an awful lot. Dribble was also adopted once by a young family... but they intended for him to be a garden dog. Being used to company and pining for some desperately, he screamed throughout the night and made a ruckus. The next day, he was back for good.
Through a strange twist of fate, precocious Dribble didn't get adopted again and I was given the chance to know him better. I was around during his puppy hood days. But the funny thing was... I only began to fall in love with this naughty boy after our disastrous home stay, well past his puppy days.
Dribble as a puppy - with his sister, Denise
Pitiful look #1
He peed on my carpet and my comforter. He looked so bored and woebegone I felt obliged to bring him for four walks a day. He squeezed out of my gate once and gave me the shock of my life. But late at night, after I cleaned up the mess and was so worn out I collapsed on my bed to sleep, he laid his head in the crook of my neck and slept with me.
And from that moment on, this boy with the heart-shaped face totally and completely captured my heart.
Loving a shelter dog isn't easy. You don't know when they'll find a good home and leave the shelter for good. You can't expect them to reciprocate a fraction of what you feel for them because after all, you aren't there with them all the time. They're so many other volunteers around, new and old, to shower them with love as well. You're nothing special - just one of the humans who come and go.
Pitiful look #2: Cultivated since young! (refer above)
But dogs are habitual animals. They fall into a routine quickly and happily. I couldn't give Dribble a home but I could give him a routine. It was nothing much, but at least it was constant. I started bringing Dribble for an hour long walks each weekend, navigating the busy roads leading from the shelter into the more quiet ones further ahead. I taught him how to jump across drains. I chided him when he ate too much grass. I made him stop and drink water before we continued. I would bestow him with my horrendously out-of-tune singing. I would complain to him about the problems in my life (read: too much school work!). Then inspired by that dog whisperer Cesar Millan, I decided to implement a "rigorous" walking regime with Dribble. I made him walk beside me even though he wanted nothing more than to dash forward. I made him stop and sit after every 20 steps or so, pushing his butt down and refusing to walk to show him I meant business. I felt mean and domineering at first. But eventually, Dribble was resigned to his fate and did as he was told. Today, months on, when I brought him out for his birthday walk, I was mighty surprised to discover Dribble sitting automatically when commanded without me having to tap his butt at all. I was so pleased with Dribble that I felt my heart expand just a little with pride. We've tried different walking routes and sometimes we meet other stray dogs. The encounters were really scary - it is no joke being outnumbered - and now I just stay on the straight and narrow, tried and tested route. Safety is the best because Dribble and I are both scaredy dogs.
I never meant to be so shamelessly biased towards one dog at the shelter. After all, each one of them is a wonderful dog in his or her own right and deserves as much love as the other. I can't explain what I love about Dribble. He is non-cuddly most of the time (meaning he will sit by himself near you - but not on you or with you). He will also be too busy barking at other dogs over the fence to care about you. But there are occasions when he will come forward and lovingly lick your face or lie beside you for a tummy rub. Moments like these are rare but for me, they're enough.
Dribble's only two this year and there's still a slight chance he might find a family who loves him. And I'll be all for it. Dribble just needs someone with patience, someone who will always be there. And then that naughty heart-shaped face (as they like to call him) can be a loving family dog too.
Happy birthday Dribs!
You are loved.
[Just so you know... Dribble's sister, Denise, has been successfully adopted. Happy birthday Denise! Do come back for a visit soon!]