We are up before the crack of dawn, on our way to the hang gliding training hills. We arrive early–the gates are still locked. As soon as we settle in to wait, two dogs come running down to greet us. They are collarless, thin, very young, and very adorable. There aren’t any homes near enough to explain why these dogs would be hanging out here before dawn.
When the instructor arrives, we drive on, deciding to worry about the dogs on the way home, but the dogs chase us down the dirt road for as long as they can keep up. We lose them when they tire, but they arrive at the parking lot about the time we get out my glider. They jump all over me, wanting to be petted some more. I turn my back on them when they jump and pet them when they have all four paws on the ground. It takes three times and they figure out they can get what they want by standing still. They are smart dogs.
As I go through my flying lessons, the dogs chase me when I fly off the hill and run up and start licking my face if I land on my belly. I’m not sure if they’re worried about me or just having fun, but it’s cute.
After a few flights, they run off to explore something else. I am relieved–these dogs are breaking my heart. But, I don’t want to jump into a 12-14 year commitment because they’re cute and hungry.
When we call it quits for the day, the dogs reappear to “help” disassemble my glider. They remember not to jump on me and I am impressed with how quickly they have learned that lesson. When I am done, I sit on the ground and let them share my lap. They are so sweet. I remind myself they’ve been running around and are exhausted. Tired dogs usually are sweet.
But my husband looks at me sitting on the ground with these hungry, adorable dogs and says, “All right, get them in the van.” They ride comfortably with us to Wendy’s where they wolf down burgers.
We discuss the choices we’ve made since the death of our sweet Mastiffs to make it easy for us to travel. We decide to take the dogs to a shelter and volunteer to foster them.
The shelter is large and clean and the man at the desk is reassuring. I meet the volunteer coordinator and she is equally friendly. I fill out paperwork and we bring in the dogs. It will take 5-7 days for the dogs to get vet care (including spaying and neutering), have their behavior assessed, and be ready for foster care. I am sad as we walk out. I cannot shake a feeling of unease, like I have shirked a responsibility. I imagine their disappointment at being left behind. I feel my own disappointment. I resist the urge to run back inside and ask for them back.