Davis County's animal shelter has a place for the dogs and cats to play and interact with potential new owners, thanks to a volunteer group of good-hearted people who donated their time, talent and means to make a play yard.
The remarkable part of the story is that the chairman of the group discovered the shelter's need when he stopped by to pay a fine because his dog wasn't licensed. The average person would walk away from that experience grumbling, swearing never to return, certainly filled with nothing that could be called human -- or humane -- kindness. But Rudy Larsen, chairman of the Building Owners and Managers Association's Helping Hands division, apparently stayed around long enough to learn that the animals at the shelter didn't have anything like a yard to run around in.
So naturally, after paying a fine to the place, he figured out a way to help it. You have to admire that.
I could have told Mr. Larsen about the need for a play yard for the animals. Years ago I took my young son to the shelter to see if he could find a dog. We ended up going there three times as he looked for the right companion. She told him the first time he came, but it took him a while to figure it out. A plain brown mongrel, she wasn't nearly as flashy as some of the pooches in the pound. But I watched her watch him each time he walked past and wondered how long it would take him to figure this out. I'm certain she was wondering the same thing.
On our third visit, he decided to take some of the dogs for a walk -- a "test run" so to speak. There wasn't anything you could call a romp area back then, so the folks at the shelter just put a dog on a leash when someone was looking for a pet. The first dog my son pointed to turned out to be wound tighter than a watch spring. She must have weighed all of 7 pounds, but the moment her leash was in his hands she took off like a bullet, dragging his 120 pounds along behind her like he was nothing. He finally wound her leash around a parking lot post and hollered for someone to come get her.
The second dog he requested spent the entire time with his leg in the air, watering everything in sight. Not exactly a great impression.
My son finally pointed to the brown mutt. She ambled alongside him with a quiet, dignified air. They sauntered around the parking lot. She ran when he ran, walked when he walked, and stopped at the edge of the property when he stopped. He sat down on the grass, she sat down beside him, and they remained there a long time, staring out at the valley. When I saw his arm reach over to pat her shoulder and scratch her ears as she leaned into him, I dug out my checkbook and went inside to pay the licensing fee. All signs said she was coming home.
That was nearly a decade ago. He's grown up, gone to school, married and moved away. She's gone through all of that with him, and lives at his home now, still happy, still a sweetheart of a dog.
The strange thing is, when I paid the fee to take her home all those years ago, I learned she'd been sitting in that small cage at the pound for nearly three months. It kind of broke my heart. Knowing the bright, energetic, people-hungry dog she is, I can't imagine her patiently waiting in that kennel all those days and weeks for the right person to come along so she could go home with him and teach him about things like sacrifice, looking beyond himself, caring for someone else -- the stuff "dumb" creatures teach brilliantly.
It's the stuff that Mr. Larsen and his 40 volunteers represent. Thanks to them, the animals will have a place to play, to work off some the stress of living in a pound, and to make favorable impressions on folks who come looking for a companion.
Bravo to them. And especially to Mr. Larsen -- for letting his best efforts go to the dogs.
Louise Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her editor at 801-625-4223.