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December 22, 2012

Memories of Mistro

Frequently, it takes a while for a shelter dog to bond with its new companion, but Mistro was an exception.

When I first saw his smiling photo in the Muttmatchers Messenger, a California publication that contains hundreds of photos of shelter dogs, I knew we were meant for each other. But he was in a no-kill shelter in San Clemente, and I lived in Lynwood, almost 60 miles away. If you have ever experienced California traffic, you will understand my reluctance to make the drive, so I checked on Mistro’s availability by telephone.

By the time I arranged to meet Mistro, he had been in the shelter for five months. It is always difficult to find a home for a 3-year-old big black mutt — they are the hardest to place and the first to be euthanized.

I arrived in the early afternoon. Mistro was in a second-tier cage kicking up a fuss whenever someone walked by. A volunteer hooked up a leash, and the three of us went for a walk. I asked if I could be alone with him. She left, and Mistro and I sat down on the curb, his eyes focusing on a point somewhere over my right shoulder. It was almost a year before he would look me directly in the eye.

I talked to him, asked him whether he liked me, what he thought about coming home with me and whether he intended to be a good dog. The people inside, spying through the office blinds, must have thought I was crazy for talking to this big dog, but I knew that he understood.

My mind was made up. Mistro followed me inside and sat quietly while I filled out forms and wrote checks. The staff must have noticed something, too, because they decided to violate their policy of requiring two visits before any adoption. They let me take Mistro with me that same day.

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