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Commentary: Pet adoption is one of life’s best gifts

Posted the Prior Lake American: Friday, December 25, 2015 12:00 pm

By John Diers

Merry Christmas. This column isn’t about the budget, taxes, 2040 visions or why the city is supposedly going to “you know where” in a hand basket. It’s about 17 pounds of dog that wiggles, jiggles, barks, chews and demands undivided attention.

May I present Delilah, AKA Big Ears, a terrier Dachshund mix and my new copy reader.

My wife, Marcia, and I grew up around animals. She loves all of them: dogs, cats, birds and squirrels, but has always had a soft spot for horses. My first dog, a collie named (what else?) Lassie, came along when I was a third grader in 1952. Lassie was followed by a succession of cocker spaniels and shelties. More recently, Marcia and I had a black lab named Santa and then Tino, a Norwegian elkhound, along with innumerable cats. Our last cat, Bailey, passed away a couple of weeks ago. Bailey was special, as cats go, demanding to be brushed and held, and forever sitting on my desk either staring at my computer screen or looking out the window at the dogs next door.

Bailey’s passing left an empty spot. We’re in our 70s and long-time empty nesters. What to do? It didn’t take us long to decide we wanted a dog. In the past they’ve always just appeared. This time, though, we wanted to be proactive. Marcia contacted her cousin, Jane, who’s involved with a group that rescues dogs that have a disability or have been abused. She and others in the group take them in and care for them until a new home can be found. Jane didn’t have anything at the moment, but she referred us to another group, Wags and Whiskers Animal Rescue (www.wagsmn.org), and that’s where the story begins.

We went to their website, looked around and spotted Delilah. We contacted them, and they put us in touch with the family that was providing foster care. They live in Mora, Minn., but arranged to bring Delilah to our house for a home visit. Everything clicked, and Delilah is sitting next to me now as I write this column.

Delilah, like all the dogs from Wags and Whiskers, is current on all vaccinations and has been spayed and microchipped. Microchipping provides information to help track down a pet that gets lost or runs away.

There are several organizations, locally, that provide care and adoption services for animals. There’s the Carver Scott Humane Society (www.carverscotths.org), Southwest Metro Animal Rescue (www.swmetroanimalrescue.org) and Protecting Paws Animal Rescue (on Facebook). We went to Wags and Whiskers based on a referral. All of them do important work.

We know that Delilah came from Arkansas. Her foster family called it Death Row, Arkansas, because she was in a so-called kill shelter and would have been euthanized had she not found Wags and Whiskers and a new home. She’s about 5 years old, has a wonderful disposition and is adjusting to her new surroundings and her new family.

Delilah had heartworm, was treated for it, and is now free of the disease, although she will have to be checked and be on medication for the rest of her life, which, we hope, will be long and happy.

Delilah was the Christmas present we gave to ourselves, and the best Christmas present ever. We hope and encourage other families will do the same. There are so many needy dogs and cats that need a good home. Christmas is a good time to help them find one.

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John Diers is a Prior Lake resident who spent 40 years working in the transit industry and author of “Twin Cities by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul” and “St. Paul Union Depot.” To submit questions or topics for community columnists, email editor@plamerican.com. (Editor’s note: Diers is a community columnist and not employed by, or paid by, the newspaper.)