Mourning the past. Fearing the unknown.
Contributed by Claudia Salem
The garbage truck hauled all kinds of junk away, boxes were packed and furniture wrapped. There was so much activity. It was a little unnerving, but kind of exciting too. I mostly stayed on my bed, to be out of the way.
When the day finally came, everyone was smiling. I smiled too, wagging my tail in anticipation of an exciting new adventure. But when my family closed the door for the last time, I was still inside. That's when I realized they were leaving me behind.
I don't know how long I waited. But I was definitely hungry and thirsty. I was so relieved, when I heard the key turn in the lock again. For a few seconds I thought to myself, "It was a mistake. They hadn't meant to leave me."
But the people who entered weren't my family. And they seemed very surprised (and annoyed) to see me, just a silhouette in the darkness of their new home.
If I was a thinner, younger, smaller, cuter dog, then maybe this new family would have wanted me. But 40-plus pounds overweight and a dog of indeterminate age, there was no brotherly love for this Philly-born shepherd mix. They were quick to drop me off at a shelter, which is where the folks at Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation found me.
At the rescue kennel in Virginia, I heard the staff whispering. They said I was anxious. I felt their words wash over me as I lay in the corner in my kennel, not moving. Freaking out at the unknown. What was going to happen to me?
When my new foster family came to get me, I didn't want to get in the car. To be honest, hearing someone refer to me as a "hippo-sized" dog as they strained to lift me into the SUV, didn't help. When I got to my new house, I just lay there, mostly not moving for the first week.
But my foster mom, Claudia Salem, has lots of experience. She has fostered about 50 dogs and puppies before me. She and her kids have decided they like to foster older dogs best – they totally get that older dogs have lots of love left to give. I'm very lucky they picked me.
Claudia knew that I just needed a little bit of time to decompress and start to feel secure here and she didn't make me feel bad when I didn't respond to attention from her and her kids right away. They have three dogs besides me. The dogs were very friendly and I could tell they like it here. That helped me to feel at home
I've been here in Arlington for about three months now and boy-oh-boy are things different. I love spending time with the humans here as well as my four-legged foster sibs. Now when I lay around it's because I'm relaxing, not terrified. I'm a pretty chill gal overall.
Claudia estimates I've lost about 20 pounds. it's hard to know for sure, she doesn't have a dog scale at home. But I'm determined to keep losing. Now that I know life has a lot to offer, I want to live a long time. Claudia thinks I might be younger than my posted age of 13 or so. I definitely have the energy of a younger dog, now that I'm happy.
As for my secret to weight loss? Well I'm eating less for sure, that part I don't love. I'm also getting lots of exercise. I love taking walks and playing outside. But, I think the real secret is the calorie-burning happy dance I do whenever my humans come through the front door.
I'd love to do my happy dance for you.
Sage is waiting for her forever family. If you are interested in adopting Sage, you can check her out on the Lost Dog and Cat Foundation website and/or email Claudia directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ArPets is a weekly feature for highlighting the well-loved pets of Arlington as well as animals who are available for adoption. If you or your dog, cat, iguana, bunny, rat or any other pet, has an interesting pet story to tell, send email to: email@example.com.
Joan is an award-winning Connection Newspapers columnist and local photographer specializing in pets, children and families and contemporary business portraits.