I first looked into the dark-brown, trusting eyes of Dusty at the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) adoption center in January of 2011. My daughter had driven me there in hopes of filling my need for a new dog.
I'd discovered they had an Australian Kelpie available for adoption. I knew these dogs were extremely intelligent, and I thought it would be fun to have one.
When we walked into the adoption center, we were greeted by a volunteer. I said I had come about the Kelpie if it was still available.
"Yes," she replied, "if you don't mind a dog who will destroy your house any time you leave it there alone."
I gulped. "That's not exactly the kind of dog I want."
She smiled wisely. "Take a look around. We have many dogs. All kinds of breeds."
I began to walk past the many cages of hopeful adoptees. Hovering in a corner at the back of a cage, a small brown-and-white Brittany Spaniel with a freckled nose caught my gaze. Her liquid-brown eyes beseeched me. I felt as though we bonded immediately. She was the dog for me.
I later learned that Dusty was rescued in Red Bluff by volunteers who drive through the Central Valley every week to all the local animal control centers. ARF had named her Dusty Springfield.
As we drove back to Berkeley, I sat in the back seat with Dusty's head in my lap. She was skin and bones and she had no front teeth. Because she was probably starved in her childhood, she has always had a food focus and is currently a tad overweight.
Recently Dusty sprouted a couple of sores, and she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I was very concerned, because the vet wanted to anesthetize her to get a sample of the wound tissue. I had a dog previously who had this procedure, and he died from the anesthetic. I consulted another vet for a second opinion. Under this vet's care, she has improved rapidly. Dusty is vigorous, eats well, and enjoys her life.
If you meet us at the park, please stop, say hi, and pet this beautiful, loving dog.