Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guest Blogger Jenn McKinlay on Her "Orphan Annie"

We are celebrating an anniversary in my house -- a happy one. A little over a year ago, I was walking my five month old puppy Otto, a Schnauzer with very expressive eyebrows, through the neighborhood when I saw a very large dog off leash. Not knowing if the dog was friendly and not wanting Otto to become the big guy’s appetizer, I took a short cut.

Halfway down the alley, I saw a mid-sized brown and black brindle dog, huddling against the fence. My first thought was: Oh, crap, out of the pan and into the fire! As there was no escaping this dog, I scooped up Otto and put on my best mean face. As we passed, the dog hunkered low and growled, a very scary growl.

I got Otto home and then began to worry about the stray dog. It was the end of summer in Arizona, temps were still in the low hundreds and not likely to break soon. I decided I had to go back. Now, having been bitten by a few dogs in my time, I have a healthy respect (also called sweaty-palmed-terror) of dogs I don’t know. I decided to bring canine ice breakers, i.e. Milkbones, to see if I could get close enough to the dog to assess the situation.

The brindle was in the same spot, still hunkered low, still growling. I offered a biscuit. She growled. I offered another. She growled and thumped her tail at the same time. Hmm. I tried to get close.She growled and scared me so naturally I went and woke up my husband.

The Hub came back with me and talked so nicely to her, that if I had been her, I would have been in his lap immediately. He got her to come forward a little bit, where we could determine that she was a her. Given the heat, he figured she was dehydrated and went to get water. I waited with her not getting any closer. She and I stared at each other, each trying to read the other.

I started talking to her as nicely as the Hub had. She thumped her tail and growled. I held out a biscuit.

She stayed low to the ground and belly crawled toward me. I had a moment of panic (she has a gorgeous face with definite pit bull bone structure) but I kept my hand steady and kept talking. She scuttled until her nose was just under my hand. I held my breath. She nudged the biscuit aside with her nose and pressed the top of her head into my palm and looked at me with her big baby browns.

Then she gave a huge shuddering sigh, as if she were psyching herself up for something, and she climbed into my lap. She leaned against me but held herself stiffly as if bracing herself for rejection. There was no question that she was taking a huge leap of faith by trusting me. When she looked at me, it was there in her soft chocolate eyes: Please don’t hurt me!

I carried her home, talking to her all the way. The Hub was just bringing out a big bowl of water and she slurped it down and promptly threw up. She had a collar but no tags. We didn’t know what to do.

My sons, the hooligans, came out to meet her. It was love at first sight on both sides. Then we let Otto out to see how it went. He and Annie did the butt-sniffing “How you doin’?” thing that dogs do and then ran around the yard about eighty times, alternately chasing one another, until they both passed out in the grass.

There was silly talk about finding Annie’s owners, flyers were put up, but no one ever called. Clearly, she had been tossed out with the trash. Since we already had a dog, a fish, two hamsters and two cats, I was not super up for another pet, but how could I send her away, knowing that most dogs that have any pit bull in them end up being euthanized, and after witnessing her incredible leap of faith when she chose to trust me?

Names were tried out; Pepper, Scarlett, Tiger, Cinnamon Bun, but Annie from Little Orphan Annie (the Hub’s last name is Orf, so it’s really Orf’n Annie) stuck. The Vet was visited repeatedly until she was immunized and nipped and tucked. We were told that she was about a month younger than Otto and just a puppy herself.

It took her about 6 months to understand that she had found her forever home. She still has phobias (the broom, the garden house, loud male voices), but it’s been a year now, and she has settled into our house of clutter and chaos as if this is where she was meant to be – and truly, it was.

Annie has inspired me in so many ways. Honestly, she makes me a better person and probably a better writer! In two of my mystery series, the Cupcake Bakery and the Library Lover’s, my heroines rescue abandoned animals. In the upcoming, DEATH BY THE DOZEN, readers will get to make the acquaintance of Captain Jack, a stray kitten with a taste for cupcakes. I hope he wins your hearts like Annie has won mine.

Thanks for inviting me to blog today! It’s always a treat to visit the Cozy Chicks! - Jenn McKinlay

20 comments:

Linda McDonald said...

Great Post! We are celebrating an anniversary this week too....10 years ago this Saturday we brought home our white shepherd mix Sandy who we adopted from the local animal shelter. Seems like she had been dumped, just as your Annie was. I'm so happy that Sandy and Annie found their forever homes. I wish all the homeless pets out there can find just that. I'll check out your series and congrats on your upcoming release.

Dru said...

I'm so glad that Annie has found a good home with you and your family.

Deb said...

Years ago my son found 6 abandoned kittens in the desert. We bathed the fleas away (that was much fun) and the local pet shop found good homes for them. You have a kind heart!

Ellery Adams said...

I was so moved by this story! It was so easy to picture Annie coming into your open arms and putting her trust in you! What a lucky doggie!

And I want every one of the dozen cupcakes on the cover of the new book!

Sarita said...

What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. And happy anniversary!

dollycas aka Lori said...

Great story, we have 3 rescue kitties and 2 dogs we bought from a near by farm for 40 bucks each. We had 3 other cats a couple of years ago but they moved with our oldest son. One of them was found at a gas station in the rain, huddled next to one pumps. Our oldest cat had died just hours before. We did not just rescue that cat but he rescued us as well.

The best pets you can have are not the purebreds but those we find lost or abandoned and save their lives, that look of unconditional love they give you when they first look up at you and know they are safe and they have found a forever home.

Barb Goffman said...

Really great post! And she has such a beautiful, expressive face!

One week from tomorrow will mark the fifth anniversary of Scout finding his forever home and coming to live with me. There's nothing like having a furry friend!

He says woof!

Erin said...

What a precious story. I wish I could rescue them all.

Erin

Cheryl said...

Our basset was left at a shelter with his puppy collar embedded in his neck. People can be so cruel. Six years later he is our spoiled big boy. It is so important to tell their stories.

Jenn McKinlay said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone! I feel very fortunate to have had all sorts of pets all my life -- I am an unabashed animal lover. The hooligans know this, which is why they are lobbying hard for frogs. Heaven help me!

Liz V. said...

My husband attracts strays.

One had been hit by a car at some point, and his deformed paw dragged and was raw. So, we got peroxide and bandages, and I held the dog's head, while hubby attended to the paw. Instead of a bite, I got a lick. And the next morning, the dog was under our window, having jumped a fence. Any wonder he got shipped home from Greece.

Katreader said...

What a wonderful story! It's amazing the trust these wonderful animals have-she's lucky to have found you. My home is full of strays and rescues and I wouldn't have it any other way! This post is also fitting as October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. If only everyone were kind enough to open their home to a less fortunate animal-or donate time or money if they aren't able to give a good home.

Books by Heather said...

I love this story, too! I remember when you posted on FB about finding Annie--I'm so glad she's fit right in with the family.

Nancy said...

This is such a touching story and brought a lump to my throat when you wrote about Annie climbing on to your lap.

ev said...

All of our animals- 4 dogs, 3 cats- are rescues. Charlie,our longest, is a pit bull/Lab mix that I rescued in Jan 01 in -20 below weather. He's my love, my shadow, my bodyguard and best friend. (Don't tell the others that)

Annette said...

Thanks for bogging your story about Annie. She sounds like a treasure.

Vickie said...

Such a wonderfully warm story! Thank you for sharing how Annie came to join your family and how her spirit meandered into your books.

Aurian said...

Ooo so lovely. That you rescued a dog you were scared of, and kept her, and are happy all together.

Last saterday, I only found a canary in the street, and a strange man helped me capture it. So then of to the petshop to buy a cage and food and everything. € 104,00. My boyfriend declared me a fool, but I don't care. Googling, found out it is an original "singing canary". Luckily, the bird has a very soft voice, and not one that I want to shut up after half a minute.

My parrot is jealous, but will get over it in time I hope.

Jenn McKinlay said...

Big "YAY" to everyone who has adopted an animal (or canary) who needed you. When I took Annie to my Vet (who has 4 adoptees of his own) he said, "There is a reason she came into your life. I've seen it again and again. A person will save an animal and later on that animal will save that person. It's amazing." So true.

Michelle said...

I love kittens and cats. I have a bunch of cats and they were all strays. More come around because we feed the outside cats. Animals are like people in that they each have a distinct personality.