Alibi V.26 No.4 • Jan 26-Feb 1, 2017 

Feature

Oh, What a Lucky Dog You Are

Adoption is cool for cats, too

Eric Williams Photography
Dogs are dandy; cats are cool. Rabbits and rats rock righteously, too. Bring them into your lives before you forget, there’s an ocean of wonder alive in that set.

Listen: If I further frame what I am about to tell you within a narrative, the idea that is central to such signifiers—as they appear in this feature for Weekly Alibi—ought to come clear. That idea should form an indication of the importance of actions involving safety and rescue. I hope you will joyfully undertake such movements forward in order fully comprehend the importance of animals who need a home.

Let me put it plainly to you before you proceed. You, your family, your friends—hell, all of the people in your social media circles for that matter—would do well to consider adopting a pet.

There are sentient creatures ranging from high-energy hound dogs to courageously curious cats—not to mention rambunctious rats and the occasional beatific bunny rabbit—available for adoption at facilities citywide.

There are sentient creatures ranging from high-energy hound dogs to courageously curious cats—not to mention rambunctious rats and the occasional beatific bunny rabbit—available for adoption at facilities citywide.

The mission of each of these organizations, some government-based, some nonprofit and some privately owned, is to pair up likely companions for a lifetime of love, comfort and growth in environments that are sustainable. Providing a forever home to a shelter pet is a rewarding experience because it saves lives, because it demonstrates how humans can create and maintain communities that are based on mutual support, respect and hope for the future.

My own story, the narrative that supports the above proposition and its sunny sub-clauses goes something like this.

Eric Williams Photography
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (read: the aughts) a workmate sent me a picture of a pit bull dog that had been living at the city pound for a few months. The owner, a metal yard operator, had surrendered the dog because he said she was not mean enough. And she seemed to like me fine when I stopped by the place for a look-see. Of course the old gal had seen sunnier days, but there was a spark in her eye and a twist to her tail that piqued my interest. As I drove away from the shelter with Mookie, I knew it was the start of a great time together.

Mookie lived to be 17 years old, never missed a nightly walk or a hearty dinner and guarded the front door with keen attention. She fancied the other dogs at our house just fine and they all slept together on a big bed in the spare bedroom. During the day, they'd play in the yard, race through the house and generally have a damn good time barking and living.

Mookie's death was dignified and though it saddened me, it caused me to think about the whole concept of pet adoption. In a world filled with chaos and constant change, nothing affirms our power over those sometimes dark forces, our innate proclivity toward mercy and our desire to make life on this watery globe better than adopting an animal whose life has been bereft of the comforts we take for granted.

Eric Williams Photography
On the day after Hanukkah ended, I decided to stop sitting shiva over Mookie. I met with my friend Karen Houser. Involved in the City of Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department's foster program, Houser is tasked with providing temporary respite for shelter animals. She told me, “Fostering provides a chance for dogs and cats at the shelter to get relief from the sometimes chaotic environment there.” She is also convinced that fostering provides educational opportunities for pets and people too, emphasizing that the foster program makes pets more adoptable and their human counterparts more aware of and accountable to their culture.

Then she introduced me to Columbus, a 9-year-old dog that had been living in the AWD shelter system for just over 6 months. Columbus was listed as a cattle dog crossed with a pit bull, but to me he seemed more like a pointer or hound dog, lanky, laconic and looking for love and whatever birds came his way.

My wife and our other dogs (a shepherd mix named Sarah we inherited from a Japanese writer on his way home to Osaka and a miniature pug called Hannah we literally found running down the road on the rez) spent some time with Columbus and hit it off. There were no conflicts, no fur flying nor teeth baring. I called up Karen on the phone two weeks later and said to her, “Let's head on over to Lucky Paws at Coronado Center and do the adoption paperwork there.”

Eric Williams Photography
Lucky Paws is a storefront adoption facility helmed by the City of Albuquerque. They'll be celebrating their 10th anniversary in February with special adoption events and a visit by the mayor, I learned while researching this article. Lucky Paws is designed to provide a second chance, through visibility in a smaller setting mostly, for dogs and cats that are being held by the Animal Welfare Department. Lucky Paws manager Cecila Payne, like the rest of the staff there, was receptive, friendly and most importantly, actively advocated for the animals in her charge. The dogs and cats at Lucky Paws are well cared for, and I spent just as much time visiting with each of them as I did filling out the paperwork for Columbus' adoption (be prepared to spend about an hour going through all of that sort of thing, by the way). I asked after several of them and the staff members, including Cassie and Kamber, knew each animal by name, inclination and disposition.

Now just because I found my new best friend at Lucky Paws, doesn't mean it's the only place to go when the urge to adopt a pet comes to fruition in your heart and mind. And just so you wouldn't have an excuse to delay that imperative, dear reader, I made a list for you to start looking through. The first step should be easy enough then. When you do decide it's time to adopt, take a look in the mirror before you head on over to this or that shelter, give yourself a firm pat on the back and say, proudly, with proper gravitas, “Welcome home.”

Animal Humane New Mexico • (505) 255-5523

New Mexico Animal Friends • (505) 881-7297

Lap Dog Rescue of New Mexico • (505) 934-2202

Watermelon Mountain Ranch • (505) 771-0140

Desert Paws Animal Rescue • (505) 702-9396

High Desert Cat Rescue and Adoption • (505) 888-4327

City of Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department • (505) 768-2000

New Mexico Rabbit House Society • (505) 435-9916

Tiny Toes Rat Rescue of New Mexico (505) 263-2960

Squeeze: “Cool For Cats”