Flashback Week: All About Pom Pom

Pom Pom is the quintessential poofy poster-child of why people should adopt senior animals. She’s currently 12 years old and every bit the spunky, tough little girl she was when we got her from a San Diego animal shelter nearly six years ago…

How Pom Pom Came To Live With Us (by Cindy–Originally Published on AVE: Dec 20, 2007)

I grew up with no pets–well, that’s not completely true. Technically, my first pet was a goldfish my cousin won at the State Fair by throwing a little white ball into one of those small water-filled fishbowls. The extent of my interest in the fish involved staring at it for oh, I don’t know, five minutes.Needless to say, I never thought I would have a pet of my own. Honestly, I can’t even remember what triggered the idea of getting a dog. I believe the timing coincided with my family getting their first dog, which prompted Dustin to bring up the idea of us getting one together. Dustin, who grew up with lots of animals, assured me it would be a joint effort.

This is how Pom Pom first came to live with us.

We arrived at the San Diego city animal shelter one day in July 2004 and proceeded to walk through the kennels. This was my first experience with an animal shelter and it was really intimidating–walking through it all and seeing all the cute, adorable dogs who just wanted attention. The only way I got through it was knowing exactly what I was looking for: a small, lap dog who was in his or her senior years (senior dog = less energy, previously housetrained = great for first-time dog owner).

After browsing many aisles of large dogs, I saw her: a small, hairy little dog with big puppy eyes and a small round head, standing by the front of the caged door quietly looking at me. She didn’t bark, she didn’t growl, but she didn’t wag her tail either; she just went up to my outstretched hand and sniffed it as I knelt down in front of her. Directly next to this small dog was another one who looked just like her, but with only three legs. This one was happily barking at us. Dustin and I just KNEW that we had found what we were looking for, especially after we read her file and found out that she was estimated to be around 7-years-old (how’s it possible…she looked like a puppy!). The three-legged one was 1-year-old (perhaps her puppy?).

Anyway, the story gets interesting here: We went up to the front desk, expecting to interact with the little dog. Instead, we were greeted by a burly woman who practically laughed in our faces when we told her which dog we were interested in. She then proceeded to tell us how “they (meaning the two little dogs) bite”, were “unfriendly,” and here’s the real kicker: “You won’t want them around once you have little ones of your own.”

WOW. Here we are, dating for less than a year and having recently decided to get a dog together, and here’s an animal shelter worker not only DISCOURAGING us from adopting a dog, but also planning our future together! It was all just very strange¦got even stranger when she recruited other shelter volunteers to chime in with her crazy rant. So we bolted.

Over lunch, Dustin and I discussed how weird that whole experience had been. I mean, aren’t shelter workers supposed to want to adopt out their animals? We went home and emailed the shelter administration, asking if the little dog was still up for adoption. Turned out she was (of course), and we were encouraged to go back for her if we wanted.

Two days later, we were back, and there she was again: A little hairy girl who wasn’t barking, growling, nor wagging her tail and unadopted. We saw that the one-year-old with three legs got adopted, probably because she was the younger dog. This time, we were helped by a different shelter worker who let us interact with her. All went well, and we said we were taking her. Then the shelter worker told us that this little doggie was pregnant. Yes, pregnant, and when they spayed her, they were required by law to remove the fetuses.

Two days later, just a few hours after her huge surgery, they also told us that she had a lump on her mammary gland and it could be cancerous. WOW (hmm, that seems to be the theme of this story).

We took our little Pom Pom (so named after my high school days of cheerleading) to the vet two days later, got her some doggie morphine shots, and spent over $500 in meds, shots, and surgeries to fix her bad teeth and mammary lump. And found out she was a Papillon (with just perhaps a tiny bit of Pomeranian?).

Our beginning days with Pom Pom were very pricey, and we made a lot of silly mistakes (buying a doggie/baby gate that wasn’t necessary, and doggie litter box–what were we thinking?), but within a week, it was as if we had had her forever. Pom Pom picked up her name ridiculously fast, was already potty trained (with additional assistance from dog-master Dustin, of course), and after her first groom, her finely-textured hair has remained forever soft and fragrant.

Today, Pom Pom is a happy, energetic 10-year-old who still jumps on and off beds and couches as if she could fly. She owns this household. She sets all the rules for humans and other animals alike, determines how long we leave her alone in the house, and takes up more than half of a full-size bed with her small eight-pound body. I love her more than I can ever express in words. We share this bond that I could never have imagined possible between a girl and her pet. I look back to the days when I didn’t want any pets, and I don’t even know who I was.

Having Pom Pom in my life has shown me how rewarding rescuing animals can be, and even though we spoil her with a cushy life, what she gives back to me is so much better than any life I can give her. Plus, having a dog together has really enhanced my relationship with Dustin. I mean, I have a glimpse into what Daddy Dustin will be like! Honestly, I’m not trying to get all sentimental now (that’s just not my style!), but when it comes to my little girl, I won’t hold back. Pom Pom is not only my first baby; she’ll always be my forever baby.

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