Monday, January 31, 2011

My Impromptu Experience with Open Adoptions

Now, don't get excited. My kids are all too old to give up for adoption like I probably threatened a million times. And there's no way I would ever consider giving up any of my grandkids. This weekend did, however, provide an interesting 'adoption' experience for me.

Back in 1998, after burying a couple of pet dogs in the backyard, Alan and I opted for a Shih-Tzu puppy. It was Alan's idea, too, which came as a double surprise. Alan suggested we name her Candy. I thought it was because he'd bought a bag of caramel taffy things that were caramel and vanilla swirled together and that was what her original puppy-coloring was. Not sure if that was the real reason or not, but Candy she was.

Candy was a crazy dog with a psycho personality {not Alfred Hitchcock Psycho, just wild, weird, crazy psycho; which means she fit right in}. I used to blame her 'unique' personality on the fact that right after we got her and before Joe left on his mission, he would play ball with her. After he threw her ball, she would chase it, grab it in her mouth and then flip end over end, until she would eventually have a head-on with the door or the wall or whatever barrier was just beyond the ball. I purchased her first ball not long after we got her and she was hooked for her lifetime. The only time she was without a ball or squeaky toy after that was if she lost it and it took me awhile to find a replacement. We tried hiding spare balls around the house because she would literally get depressed when she misplaced it. But she could smell them - new or used - and it drove her crazy to know there was a ball close by and she couldn't reach it.

Candy loved to go camping. She loved to work in the garden with Alan. She especially loved to pick peas and beans with everyone - and she ate what she picked, too. She hated car rides and so the actual trek to get to a camping spot or our trips to Flowell were very painful. After Nellie and Carter moved into the basement, there were some boundary issues that needed to be worked out. Carter sported his share of "you're in my space bubble" nip marks and Candy got her hair or her tail pulled more times than she cared to. Eventually they developed an understanding and Carter took very good care of her - especially when we were camping.

Candy couldn't be groomed like the prissy Shih-Tzus you normally think of. She enjoyed chasing her ball into irrigation water and ponds and mud too much to be bothered with a coat of hair that hung down to the ground and was combed between her eyes, up over her head and clipped with a bow or a barrette. But, just because she didn't have the patience to look the part, Candy was every bit the 'entitled' princess Shih-Tzus are famous for being.

Carter and me with Candy right before we left the

house to take Candy to her new home.

 About three years ago, however, it became apparent there were some allergies developing in the family and so I started advertising and looking around for someone who needed a good companion dog. It wasn't long after I started looking that I got a call from a young girl down in the Provo area who had a grandfather in need of a friend. We talked back and forth a couple of times and then it was decided we'd meet up in Provo and she could see if Candy was what they wanted. {Someone had given her grandfather a Jack Russell terrier for a companion dog and it was way too energetic for him}. Of course she liked Candy {what wasn't to like????} and on November 10, 2007, Candy was adopted by Mr. Flint. Candy wasn't a purebred and so there were no official papers to send with her. However, I did send her with unofficial papers, i.e. a letter explaining a little about her personality and her likes/dislikes. And, of course, I put my phone number in the letter. If anything went wrong, I wanted him to be able to get in touch with me so I could take her back.

Mr. Flint, who lived with a son and his family, called me about a month later, right around Christmastime, to let me know how much he loved her. Candy would come and get him and they'd go for walks together and she'd sit by him and curl up next to him. That was the last time I heard anything.

Yesterday I got a bunch of calls on my phone from the Portland, Oregon area. No way was I answering them as I figured it was telemarketers or scams or whatever. Each time a message was left but most of them I couldn't hear any talking - just open air so you knew someone was there. Today the calls started again. There were three of them right in a row - just like yesterday had started out. I listened to the messages and this time there actually were messages. The first message a shaky old voice got his name out and the beginning of his phone number. In the second message, he finished his phone number and said he was the owner of Candy. The third message he said, "So call me back at that number."

My curiosity was peaked so, yes, I called him back. What a sweet old man! He said they loaded up their stuff (I assume the same family members he was living with when he adopted Candy) and their trailer and moved to Portland last October {I always thought addresses and phone numbers and pieces of paper were the first things to get lost during a move}. He said Candy made the move okay but she had already gone blind in the left eye and was going blind in the other eye. Also, she had arthritis pretty bad and had a hard time getting around anymore. He called to tell me that he'd had to let them put her out of her pain yesterday. He cried. I cried. He told me a couple of times how much he'd loved her and that he'd taken good care of her. I regret not answering the phone yesterday. Even though we didn't have to actually dig a hole and bury her in the backyard with the other pets, she's there in spirit. And what a pure act of charity for Mr. Flint to let me know! You have to have loved an animal to understand that! 


May 1998 - January 29, 2011


  1. Made me teary. I forgot about carter taking her for walks like that at camping. Sure do love that candy lou, poo poo!

  2. What a sweet story. It's okay for adults to cry over the loss of a pet--ask Roger and Dartell. Sorry for the allergies. And then what? I remember Candy, maybe one time. We haven't been able to visit often. Sorry.

  3. I'm so glad he would call & let you know about Candy! She was so cute, I miss her. I was secretly hoping you had her back when I first started reading...

  4. Dogs are the best aren't they? Glenn tells the story of when God created the earth He put the animals on one side and the humans on the other side. The earth started to split in half and just before it got too big, the dogs jumped over to be with the humans. We sure have loved all our dogs and Basha. Thanks for sharing that story.