COLUMNISTS

A furry surprise package

Susan Manzke
Susan picks up Stella, her new forever friend, at Saving Paws, Appleton, Wis.

After sending my dog Sunny over the rainbow bridge, I was heartbroken. He had been my companion for thirteen years and now he was gone. I knew I would eventually get another dog, but not right away. It might take until the end of summer before I would take that big step again.

Someone should have told me to stay away from dog rescue websites. Sunny and his brother had come to us from such a website. Giving another needy mutt a home was my plan, but not yet—yeah, not yet, famous last words.

For a couple of weeks, I checked out rescue cites in northeast Wisconsin. There were plenty of dogs available, but I wanted a puppy. It was my idea that introducing a puppy to my housecats would be the best alternative for all involved—it had worked before with Sunny and Booker.

And then one day I went onto Saving Paws website and clicked on Adoptable Dogs. As I went down the peanut gallery of dogs, I saw big ones and little ones, and ones in-between. Suddenly I saw her face and fell in love.

The name given to her by the adoption agency was Syria. When she was found, Syria was infested with fleas. Flea baths took care of those terrible buggers, but because of them and an allergy, Syria had bare patches on her skin.

I leaped into action, filled out the adoption paperwork, and asked to meet Syria.

I had to wait a few days. Syria and 20 other dogs were being transported to Appleton, Wisconsin from Animal Harbor, Winchester, Tennessee.

Finally, on June 11, 2022, Syria was available for a meet and greet.

I was ready. My daughter, Rachel, came along for the visit. She also brought a crate for my home. It had once been used by her rescue dogs. Now it would house another.

Rachel drove me to Saving Paws. As we rode, she asked me if I was excited about meeting my (possible) new dog. She thought I was too quiet.

“I’m just thinking,” I said. At that time I was both excited and afraid. Would the dog and I be a good match? What would I name her? Syria was definitely out.

My sister was excited for me. She messaged me with a couple of possible dog names: Mabel and Stella.

Stella relaxes in Susan’s kitchen.

I knew at once, that if the name fit, I’d call my new pet Stella.

There was quite a commotion at Saving Paws. As we met Syria/Stella, a three-legged dog was being loaded into a car. It was on its way to its new forever home, even with one missing leg.

Stella was put into my arms and immediately began to cuddle. That was it. She was mine and I was hers.

The ride home was uneventful. When we got to the farm, Stella was able to run free around the gated section of my yard. At home Stella peed when put down in the pen.  Eventually, a new collar was sized to fit her little neck and a leash attached.

Inside the house, Stella met my young cat, Barn-E. They took to each other right away. Soon they were tumbling around the kitchen floor. Car-E, another of my housecats, hid. When he did come out, his back was arched, hackles raised, and the fur on his tail was puffed up.

Barn-E is captivated by his new playmate Stella.

The friendly pup raced up to Car-E, only to hear the cat growl as his paw struck out. It wasn’t a great introduction, but we are making progress. There’s a lot less growling from Car-E these days.

The first night, I went to bed after crating Stella. She cried when I left the room, but I was firm. In no time, the puppy quieted. At one in the morning, I became worried. It seemed too quiet. Maybe something happened to Stella.

I put on my robe and slippers and went to the crate, I found Stella sleeping. Of course, my movements woke her up. All I could do was take her outside so she could do her business—from now on, I will not wake my new dog in the middle of the night. Stella had been perfectly content in her crate.

So far, so good with Stella. Housebreaking will take another week or two, but we’re heading in the right direction. Maybe one day, Car-E will even tolerate his new roommate.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; susanmanzke@gmail.com; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.