I was at MCACC West to pick up a foster dog, armed with the Animal Numbers of the latest souls that were seconds away from the e-list. My scientific method of choosing a foster dog was to read off the numbers to the counter person and the first dog still there would be the foster dog. Gender, age, size, health status, demeanor, none of this was known to me. None of it mattered. Saving one who was so close to death, that mattered.
West had upgraded its facilities to have viewing rooms at the main counters. While I was waiting in line, I happened to glance over at one such room just in time to see a volunteer attempting to collar a matted mutt. That matted mutt bloodied the volunteer’s hand.
That bite didn’t mean e-list for the dog, it meant a one way trip to “The Back”. Fortunately, the volunteer was more interested in saving dogs than adhering to MCACC policy, and that dog became Stanley, our foster kid.
For the next 2 years, Stanley dictated all rules and regulations at The Ranch.
Playing was permitted, provided all who wanted to play would play only with Stanley. Pity the poor dog or dogs who were not on Stanley’s approved list of playmates. Not only were they not allowed to play with Stanley, but they were not allowed to play with any other dog either. Even Stanley’s approved playmates were forbidden to play with anyone but him, and even then, it was only when Stanley wanted to play.
Stanley also dictated who had permission to sit on the couch. Problem was, only Stanley was ever allowed. Similar rules applied to the people bed. Lord help the poor soul who wanted to sit in the Crazy Dog Lady’s lap! That real estate was also reserved for Stanley and Stanley alone.
Despite biting at the pound, Stanley let us do anything with him, and was pretty friendly with people, at least as long as they didn’t try to pick him up. To those who could see beyond snarlies at being picked up, he dazzled at every meet and greet, up to the point where the discussion turned to the possibility of Stanley leaving The Ranch. As if a switch was flipped, he would snarl and snap and generally make himself as undesirable as possible. All this despite the fact he was sweet as sugar just seconds before .
There came a point, about a year after bringing Stanley to The Ranch, we gave up trying to rehome him. He had nowhere else to go, and he had everyone at The Ranch trained pretty well, so he was safe and accepted right where he was.
Then came that fateful day we took Stanley and Hector to dog park. It was the first time we even went to dog park. Why we chose that particular day to drive down to the city, with of all dogs Stanley, to go dog park still mystifies us . But in retrospect it is clear Fate was at work that day.
While at dog park, suddenly and without warning , a strange lady (unknown to us, not weird ) proclaimed that she had never seen such a beautiful dog, and before we could stop her, she had picked up Stanley and was holding him inches from her face. Rather than being snarly, Stanley’s tail was wagging and he was kissing her, a behavior previously reserved only for Crazy.
A year after giving up on finding a home for Stanley, two years after saving him from the pound, Stanley found his home.
DISCLAIMER ON VIDEO: I DID NOT REALIZE I WAS SO CLOSE TO SQUSHING BERTIE! JUST KNOW, I WASN’T ACTUALLY SITTING ON HER!!!!
You may or may not have remembered some comments I’ve made about there being a point when rehoming a foster dog is no different getting rid of the dog. We still stand by that philosophy, but clearly Stanley was an exception to the rule . We were only a way station for Stanley until he chose his home. And his perfect home was found: A mom and dad , and a same age, same sized sister (Bertie), all ready willing and able to live by Stanley’s rules .
The days grow together in my old age, but I think it’s been four years maybe three, since Stanley went home. Since he left he’s come back twice to visit with us when his parents went away. Despite the years and living somewhere else, Stanley never forgot Run a Muck Ranch or the rules he imposed. He has taken his visits as an opportunity to reinforce the rules, and add a few more:
He will not respond to Max, his current name, at The Ranch, he will only respond to Stanley.
No one is allowed to play unless they are playing with Stanley. Those allowed to play must be on Stanley’s approved playmate list. If a kid is not on that list, that kid is not allowed to play at all.
No one but Stanley is allowed to play with his sister Bertie. Also, Bertie is not allowed to invite anyone but Stanley to play.
No one, and sometimes not even Bertie, is allowed on the couch with Crazy or Crabby. If there is no human on the couch, Bertie and a few of the “approved” kids are allowed up. The same rules apply to the people bed.
Same old Stanley! But if he were ‘normal’ he wouldn’t be as much fun.
Stanley is truly blessed. Despite his near death, and his less than perfect behavior, he found the place he was meant to be. Run A Muck Ranch was only the way station to him going to his only true home: The one with a Mom who loves him, a best friend he calls Dad, and a sister who he adores and who adores him back. It doesn’t hurt that he has a babysitter who can’t wait to see him from time to time either.
Of all the fosters that have darkened our doorway, it is Stanley more than any of the others that stands out as our greatest success story.