Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Her Pursuit of Happyness

We all want to be happy.

Some of us get it easy, others aren't so lucky.

This is Donna and here is her story of how she chased after that elusive little thing...

Called happiness.

Donna was born at the shelter but we hardly got to know her. 

She was quickly whisked away by a teenage girl who wanted to adopt her. Adopt away, we encouraged, thrilled that at least one puppy out of five wouldn’t need to grow up in the shelter. 

One of the rare few pictures of a 2 month old Donna with us

So Donna was known as Mikki and led a life very different from her siblings, away from the shelter. At home, she quickly got the hang of commands like sit, stay and down. She loved her family and life with them was all she ever knew. 

Donna at six months during one of our house visits

Unfortunately, things just weren’t meant to be. 

There were plenty of unresolved issues within the family about Donna. Every time there was a disagreement, the issue of Donna and her future dangled perilously in the air. 

After six to eight months, when Donna was almost all grown up, the decision was at last made to send her back. 

A fuzzy picture I took from Donna's first adoptor long, long ago

Donna found herself all alone at the shelter. 

Her mother and siblings were still around, but because she was removed from the litter so early on, they no longer recognised her as part of the group. 

But Donna never did let the past get her down. She did not sulk, she did not brood – or at least, she didn’t let it show. Instead, she was desperately eager to please and gave us little trouble. 

And so we christened her Donna. The name was bright and happy the way that she was. We were hoping a new name and a new beginning would pave the way for new happiness ahead. 

Hello Donna

Because Donna experienced life in a home, she, more than any other dog, knew the hardships of shelter life compared to home life. We didn’t want her to stay at the shelter for long. This dog was house trained and affectionate and completely ready for a new home. And so we did our best to find one for her. 

She went for one trial homestay after another, which did not work out because the potential adoptors realised they weren’t ready for a dog in the family. It wasn't anyone's fault, just a case of bad luck time and again. Lady Luck seemed particularly adept at hiding where Donna's homestays were concerned. 

After two failed attempts, Donna was visibly lethargic. She began to retreat into herself and display erratic behaviour, such as refusal to walk. I remember feeling particularly angry when the silly girl stopped in the middle road one fine walk and refused to move, oblivious to the oncoming cars heading our way. But my instinctive anger was quickly tempered by the frustration I could sense in Donna. The poor girl could not help feeling confused over the state of things. 

Nobody loves me?

We decided to give it a rest – at least for a while. Donna needed to feel like she belonged and if no one wanted her… we did. We always did. 

Donna began life proper at the shelter. She was naughty at times, loving at others and she captured the hearts of many of the volunteers. More importantly, Donna learnt to be happy again at the shelter. After some shuffling around, we housed the sunny girl with our senior resident, Buddy. They were an odd pair but these two… they became friends. 

And she smiled again

Things fall into your lap when you least expect it. 

It had been two years since Donna came to us and suddenly, into her life walked Ping Liang and Jing Xuan. They dropped us an email informing us they were exploring the possibility of adoption. They even filled up a form found on our adoption portal that no one ever bothered to read. As potential adoptors go, these two were very sincere and we felt hope spring instantly within us. 

They had no preference for a dog and took our advice readily on the dogs that might be suitable to their lifestyle and circumstance. Florence took the chance to introduce to them three year old Donna with the floppy ears, orange markings and cheerful personality. 

Floppy ears, orange markings, big big smile, yup, that's Donna

They say going slow and steady wins you the race. We learnt that it really does. 

Ping Liang and Jing Xuan didn’t rush into things. They kickstarted the adoption process by coming down to the shelter regularly to take Donna for walks. They got to know Donna and the way she was at the shelter... from how she just could not stop barking at Grace to how affectionate she could be with those she loves, both dogs and humans alike. 

When it was finally time for a homestay, this couple had a better idea of what they were in for. We did a couple of short weekend stays to acclimatise on one hand, Donna to the domestic household environment and on the other, both Ping Liang and Jing Xuan to the experience of having a four legged fur friend in their lives.

Off they go on their first homestay!

The adoption process can sometimes be a long one. But we couldn't help feeling anxious that this might not work out after all. It was time for our annual adoption drive in December. When assessing the number of dogs we had available for adoption, we were uncertain whether to add Donna's name to the list. 

With bated breath, we decided to ask the couple. They were the only ones who could give us the answer. 

And they said... 


Donna was not up for adoption. She was going home with them. It was only a matter of when

So with much elation, we dropped Donna's name from the list and went about organising our event. Perhaps elation is understating it. What we felt was more like euphoria... These people saw the good in our little girl... The good we always lamented that only we could see. 

Christmas rolled by and January dawned, brand new and hopeful. A couple of weekends ago, Donna went back with her folks. Ping Liang and Jing Xuan informed us that Donna wasn't going to be returning to the shelter. (Ohhhh, how our hearts sang!)

Family shot before they set off on the final homestay toward adoption

And just like that Donna was home. 

It is still very much early days for the lovely family. We do know that anything can happen. But we are feeling pretty upbeat. 

Donna sitting pretty on one of her walks with her folks

For the couple, adoption wasn't a snap decision. It was very much a journey. To go through the whole process the way they did requires a certain level of persistence and patience. We hope these very traits see them through whatever ups and downs await and make their home a permanent one for Donna. 

At home, we were told Donna is Queen of the couch

Uncertainty, scepticism, frustration, hope, joy, euphoria, grief. Adopting and owning a dog can be a rollercoaster ride. 

But very often, you'll find out, it can be the ride of a lifetime. 

For good?

For Donna, we hope this marks the end of her chase toward a home and happyness. 

Good luck baby. We love you.

1 comment:

  1. Given the limited amount of space at the shelter, does GentlePaws ever have to turn away people who have found factory litters etc?


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