Ethan's Reception, a Story of Hardship and Acceptanceby Author / Kathleen J. Shields
By Kathleen J. Shields
While this story is based on real life events and dogs, it is mostly fictional.
Once upon a time in a town far, far away from the closest Wal-Mart, a young couple moved from the city. They packed up their posh belongings - fancy silver, contemporary furnishings and upscale clothing and headed to Canyon Lake, Texas. While waiting for their contemporary custom home to be finished, they stayed in a cabin that sat next to the Guadalupe River.
Every morning, afternoon and evening the couple would walk their fancy pedigree dog along the banks of the river, and take in the stately cedar and oak trees and the emerald colored water. The dog, however, had another perspective.
FiFi was a fluffy white miniature purebred poodle. She wore a pink diamond studded collar and had pink painted toe nails. When she walked along the banks of the river she found it dirty and wet. She didn’t like the mud and she groaned every time they went outside because it was hot without air conditioning.
Once FiFi’s family moved into their new house, she was much happier. Her luxury leather chaise lounge was finally out of storage and she was able to lay on her cashmere pillows in a beautifully decorated living room. FiFi was finally getting back to her preferred routine of loafing about and watching the clouds go by. That was when things changed.
Her family had to go to work to pay for this amazing new home. She was left alone for long periods of time. Since they were gone all day long, they put her outside. In the backyard. In the Texas heat!
Laying next to her swimming pool and elegantly decorated dog house, FiFi scowled at the back door awaiting the time when she could go back inside. She had an automatic waterfall water bowl, and her parents put out plenty of toys and treats for her, but the fact of the matter remained - FiFi was stuck outside! There was no air conditioning, no cashmere pillows and lots of bugs and dirt.
FiFi became really withdrawn and grumpy. When her parents came home at night, she showed them her disdain by ignoring them. Her humans, mistook her sullenness for loneliness. Being stuck at home alone for these long days might be making her depressed so they decided she needed a friend.
They heard about a local animal shelter and decided, their home was large enough, their love was strong enough, and their hearts were big enough to accept a second dog into their home. That weekend they went down to C.L.A.S.S. and looked at all of the beautiful dogs. There were so many wonderful dogs, begging to be loved. Pouty brown eyes that expressed a longing for affection staring back up at them. Eager young puppies, bounding about their kennels, frolicking with one another in attempts to gain attention. So many dogs barking at them, saying look at me, look at me!
The humans studied each dog, until they came upon a quiet chocolate brown lab, lying peacefully in a corner. The name tag on the kennel door said Ethan, so the woman called his name. He stared at her with the most pitiful eyes she had ever seen. He didn’t look happy, he didn’t look scared… he looked lost. The way he watched her seemed to draw her into his heart and silently he seemed to tell her his story.
The employee at the shelter then began to speak. “He was found in the middle of Highway 306. One car was going west, another going east, and Ethan stood there in the middle of both lanes terrified. When the cars slowed to a stop, he was so afraid, he laid down on the road, trembling. When he was brought in, we looked for a microchip but he didn’t have one. We waited and waited to see if his family came searching for him, but no one came. He’s been here for two months now, and his depression has gotten worse.”
“Oh that is so sad.” The woman exclaimed as she walked into the cage to greet Ethan. He stood to meet her as she crouched down next to him and suddenly his tail started wagging. She patted his head and ran her hand down his beautiful soft fur and he licked her on the face. He was suddenly so happy, he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. He wagged his tail so hard his entire back end wiggled and he just kept licking her over and over again as she tumbled on the floor laughing. “We’ll take him!”
As the family was filling out the paper work, the employee added an addendum to her story. “Now you are sure you want him?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Tell me about your house.”
“It’s new. A two story custom home with a pool in the backyard.”
“Is it fenced in?”
“Yes it is.”
“And the house is large enough for him?”
“It is quite large.” The lady paused, “but we do have another dog.”
“Tell me about him.”
“Her name is FiFi. She is a poodle and she has been so lonely since we moved out here. I wanted to get her a friend to play with.”
“Will she be okay with another dog in the house?”
“I don’t see why not…. Why all the questions?”
The employee sighed a moment, then explained. “Ethan has been taken ‘home’ five times now. On five separate occasions a person or couple will come in, fall in love with him, and Ethan will fall in love with them. He goes home with them. He is there for a few days, giving them all of the love a dog possibly can give, he’s a perfect angel, doesn’t do anything wrong and then they bring him back.”
“We’ve gotten reasons like, he is too big for their house, their yard isn’t fenced in or they simply changed their minds.”
“He didn’t do anything wrong?”
“No. He just gave them his entire heart and they changed their minds.”
“That is horrible!”
“What a horrible thing to do to an animal! Did they not see his size when they adopted him? Did they forget their yard wasn’t fenced in before they took him home?”
“I know; it was a horrible thing to do, but it gets worse.”
“How could the story get any worse?”
“When he was brought back, you could see in his eyes that he was blinded by love for his new family. They didn’t have to see his face as we took him back to his kennel. They didn’t have to watch him sit there wagging his tail waiting for them to come back – for days. He sat and sat, then finally laid down, staring out the gate, waiting for them to return. They didn’t have to watch his heart break as the realization came to him that they weren’t coming back for him.”
By now the couple was in tears.
Their heart felt as broken for him, as his must have felt. When they looked back at the kennel at Ethan, all they saw was an eager, happy, loving dog, watching them expectantly as he just knew he was going to be adopted. A decision, etched in stone and unbreakable was decided.
“We will take him!” the lady spoke confidently. “And we are going to keep him!”
Ethan barked happily at that and all three humans laughed and smiled.