Security by Arla M. Ruggles

Cherry Creek, Nevada – USA

I call him Foster because I don’t dare risk forgetting that he is my temporary charge, and will soon go to a new home. And there, presumably, will receive another new name.

Animal advocates have recently negotiated an agreement with the local animal control unit, to offer foster care for unclaimed animals. Currently, animals are allowed only ten days before they are killed. The new foster program provides an additional sixty days to find adoptive families for these unwanted dogs and cats.

Evidently, Foster and I are the first case in the program — and in just three days, Facebook has proven an effective means for this venue; Foster has already been visited by prospective adopters, who will take him home with them on Friday.

Oh my goodness! What a wretched little bundle of distress he was, when I went to pick him up on Wednesday. He screamed and snapped at the animal control officer as he tried to pick him up. I didn’t fare much better with the poor tike, and we finally ended up herding him into a small carrier with the help of a large carpenter’s level.

The “shelter” is a horrible place! The first thing I noticed was the absolutely unbearable acoustics of metal metal metal. Every contact creates a screeching echo that hurt my ears. Just imagine the agony this causes the hyper-sensitive ears of a canine! And while I understand the need for stainless steel for the sake of hygiene, I noticed that none of the kennels had any beddding, whatsoever.

Foster was scheduled to die on Friday – which meant that he had spent eight days in a metal cage with no padding for his delicate little chihuahua bones. He was gaunt and terrified. It’s a long drive from town to my place in the country, and the little one calmed down before long, though he kept a vigilant eye on me most of the way. I talked and talked, to let him get used to my voice.

The first day out of the hole, I just let him stay in hiding underneath a rocking chair. He could come out if he wanted, and the front door was left open so he could go outside into a small enclosure, if he chose to.

Little by little, inch by inch, Foster began to venture out. I talked to him quietly, making no motion toward him. On the second day, he didn’t seem to be making any progress toward socialization. No problem; we’re not on a deadline. I think 59 more days are plenty of time.

Much to my surprise, and for no apparent reason (other than that maybe he wanted to be next to my big dog, Mocha), Foster suddenly decided to let himself be petted. It was obviously an act of great courage, as he crept up and put his head next to my hand. We went about it all cautiously. After a few minutes, he skulked back under his chair, and I was satisfied that we had made progress.

Sometime during the night, I felt a tapping on the side of my bed. That’s Mocha’s signal to go outside (though she rarely goes out at night, anymore), so I dutifully rose up to let her out. Surprise again! The tapper was not Mocha, but Foster, wanting to come aboard! Naturally, his request was granted.

And so, from that point on, Mr. Foster has made steady advancement toward normalcy. He has gone from ratty little hellcat to absolute charmer in just three days. He is one prime example of the power of unconditional acceptance.

Placed in the TOP TEN on *Sleeping Beauties In Dogs Of Any Breed Challenge on Dogs Of Any Breed


  1. Love These Creatures

Canon 60D EOS
Sigma 70-300mm

Great Basin Life exists … between … high desert expanses and majestic mountain wilderness.

Daily, I watch the winds of change sweeping away what remains of our western culture and heritage, and the land that has produced them.

My mission is to preserve as much as I can, of that which will soon vanish, through my photography.

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  • Susan Bergstrom
    Susan Bergstromalmost 2 years ago

    Oh goodness this looks just like Skinny! Adorable capture!

  • Yes – and a similar story, it seems. I thought of asking you if you’d care to have a pair … but it did not take long to find him a forever family here. He has brought laughter to house, for this very short while that he has been with us.

    – Arla M. Ruggles

  • Susan Bergstrom
    Susan Bergstromalmost 2 years ago

    Oh I am so glad… Skinny came to me so I would “never forget the white dog at my elbow”
    Chihuahua’s are part clown, part terrorist! LOL!
    You will have many laughs…!

  • Yes, we have! I know I will miss him when he moves on, but there will be other dogs in crisis, and I feel very fortunate to be participating in this program.

    – Arla M. Ruggles

  • Bunny Clarke
    Bunny Clarkealmost 2 years ago

    Bless you for being so caring. He really looks like a sweet little guy. I get cranky like that myself in noisy situations. :o)

  • Yes, he has turned out to be an alpha chi! Very, very adorable. :)

    – Arla M. Ruggles

  • ♥⊱ B. Randi Bailey
    ♥⊱ B. Randi Ba...almost 2 years ago

    I used to volunteer for a shelter…I know how heartbreaking it all can be. The clanging, the hard concrete floors of the dog units in the case of the bigger dogs, and the amplified sounds, etc. The difference one caring person can make can be tremendous. Thanks for your riveting report on Foster.

  • Thank you, ♥⊱ B. Randi! :)

    – Arla M. Ruggles

  • TeresaB
    TeresaBalmost 2 years ago

    July 21, 2013

    Outstanding work!

  • Thank you so much, Teresa!

    – Arla M. Ruggles

  • Ken McElroy
    Ken McElroyalmost 2 years ago

    I love this shot with the juxtaposition of dog and “cat” and very nice bokeh. Then your narrative seals the deal – nice story and an object lesson for all who love creatures in general.

  • Thanks very much, Ken, for such great insight; artistically and in the humanitarian mode. There is great satisfaction in small efforts to make the world a little kinder.

    – Arla M. Ruggles

  • Sharon Brown
    Sharon Brownover 1 year ago

    October 2013

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