Second Hand Dog

by Lu Wyland

It’s come to my attention that some people don’t know about us second-hand dogs. Being that I AM one, I thought I’d tell you a little about me and about us. My sisters, Cali and Mira, said they’d help me out if I get stuck for ideas or need help spelling something. They came to our house when they were puppies and my Mom had been waiting for them since before they were born. That’s not how it happened with me. I got here all grown up and had been waiting for her! She’d been waiting for me too, actually, but she just didn’t know it. Sometimes two-legs aren’t as smart about things as they think.

I’m a second hand dog, but I’ve got first rate love. I wag my tail just for you. I practiced for the others that took care of me before you, but there’s a special wag and a little noise I make only for you.

I’m a second hand dog. Sometimes we second hand dogs get to you because somebody who loved us died. Sometimes we get to you because somebody we loved left us. Sometimes we never had anybody before we got you. Sometimes we lived forever in a cage until we don’t know how to do anything except spin in circles. We made puppies for people who walk into pet stores to pick up a book or some fish food but want to be able to leave with a puppy besides. Mom says dogs aren’t meant to be impulse buys, but so far America doesn’t know that. She wants to tell people to look me in the eye, both the good one and the one that got ripped open in the puppy mill, and tell me why it’s important they have the choice to walk into a store to buy a dog without a plan the way some folks buy a magazine or a pair of socks. But Mom says that isn’t very nice of her so she tries to say it in a better way.

We second hand dogs often have old eyes even when we’re babies. I think it’s because we’re used to looking at people who don’t see us. Once you DO see us though….our old eyes are sparkly (even if you’ve got a blind one, like me) while also being soft with love. It can take a long time for the sad to drain out of them though, or the scaredness. You might have to wait a while for that to go away for good. But most of the time, you’ll get the soft and cushy love like something you can just rest in. The first time we fall asleep on you, my mom says it’s like somebody gave you the best present ever.

We second hand dogs come with things we know, but there’s plenty we don’t, so we need you to help us learn what’s important in our family. Can I go on the furniture? Where do I eat? How do you want me to let you know when I need to go outside? Can I chase the cats? How should I say hello to people who come to visit? Will you leave me when you take me on a car ride? What if I eat your slippers (because you forgot to tell me I shouldn’t and left them where I found them)? I’ll learn the things I need to know, but I need you to figure out the lessons and practice the homework. I love the sound of that….HOMEwork. Second hand dogs love practicing their HOMEwork.

So if there’s ever a time when you think there might be room for a second hand dog in your family, don’t be afraid to bring us home. In fact, you can try it for a while and be a foster mom or dad. If you help us practice our HOMEwork, then one day we’ll be ready for a family of our own. And for us second hand dogs, just like the dogs that were waited on before they were born, a family is the best thing ever.

Yours Truly, Tansy “I’ve got a home now” Pansy Pants

POSTCRIPT: Tansy has been home now for more than eight years. As the senior dog in our family, she’s helped many Havanese foster dogs learn the ropes as they do their HOMEwork in preparation for adoption. This second hand dog has shared her first rate love with many dogs who needed a second chance.

©Copyright 2002-2009 Lu Wyland – Volunteer and former president of Havanese Rescue Inc. Reprinted with permission of the author, this article also appeared in the August 2009 issue of Top Notch Toys. If you are interested in providing a loving foster or forever home for a second hand Shih Tzu, contact the ASTC Rescue Committee.

View A Complete List of the ASTC Rescue Committee.