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The miracle of social media and a 9-pound dog



The dachshund thing began for me, as for so many people, with one I knew as a kid.

The schoolteacher who lived in the apartment next door to us when I was in second and third grade in Cheney, Wash., had an excitable red dachsie named Hot Dog. My parents became good friends with his owner, Mrs. Bonney, who was a character, and my brother and I became devotees of Hot Dog, who was another. He (or she—we were never too clear) had a nest of baby blankets on Mrs. Bonney's couch, an impressive array of squeaky toys and a boundless appetite for running around with us on the lawn and barking. We felt like part-owners—I remember confidently advising other kids that he wouldn't bite, no matter how wild the chase became—and my feelings were genuinely hurt the winter of the Asian flu when Mrs. Bonney had to go to the hospital, and Hot Dog wouldn't eat the whole time he stayed with us. She told us that he wouldn't, but we didn't believe it: He was our dog, too.

Many years later, when my 7-year-old son began begging for a puppy, I mentioned dachshunds, and my husband, Ed, revealed that he had always wanted one. It was, to conflate the titles of two old dog books on my shelf, The Allure of Our Friend the Dachshund. So we got our full-size brown guy, Biddo—a legend to all who knew him—and, in time, his little black-and-tan sidekick, Lulu.

More than 20 years later, with both of our much-mourned dachshunds buried in the backyard (after 15- and 18-year runs, respectively) and a big huskie mix lording it as Sole Dog in Residence, my friend Susan Roe hit me on Facebook one day with a photo of a worse-for-wear black-and-tan wiener out at the Pima County pound.

What could I do? What could Ed do after I shared the picture of Mr. Man—a rescue, 10 years old, male—on Ed's page, and his kids saw it? Drive out to Silverbell Road and Sweetwater Drive, and pick him up, that's what. We'd seen him, and he'd looked back at us.

Thanks to quick, reassuring, expert work by Connie out at the Pima Animal Care Center; Terri Goddard at Tucson Cold Wet Noses, a mixed-breed rescue organization; and Dr. Wulf at ABC Low Cost Pet Clinic (Country Club Road and First Street), Mister is in my lap as I write this: dear, uncomplaining, recovering nicely from a case of kennel cough, and smelling like a Dumpster in the sun. (His horrible teeth are coming out as soon as he's over the upper-respiratory crap.) But Dr. Wulf says that his spine looks good; his organs are sound; and he's probably got another good five years in him—which he's more than welcome to spend sleeping on the couch, joining Fu in meticulous inspections of the backyard, greeting us at the door and hanging around the kitchen, hoping for treats.

Human beings let this little guy down, big-time—someone let his teeth go to hell, didn't neuter him and dumped him or let him wander off when he started to get old. But then—redemption. People who care and know what they're doing stepped in to help, picking him up off the street, sheltering him and then locating other people (us) who understand and love his fussy, valiant, luxury-loving breed.

The hookup happened online. Among the virtues of the Internet and, specifically, of social networking, is its growing importance to animal-rescue organizations. Social media have a simply stunning ability to help us find things we want before we know we want them: a catch-up with an old friend from high school, a funny video or a sad little dog who needs a home.

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