Nearly 11 years ago to the day, I walked into the Carson City Animal Shelter for the first time. I’d grown up around animals — from horses and cows to cats and dogs — but I’d never had one of my own since leaving home.
I was working as a reporter at the Nevada Appeal and had just moved into a house with a yard. My friend and Appeal photographer at the time Cat Allison was shooting a story about the animal shelter and went on a ride-along with an animal control officer.
She came back to the office to tell me they’d found a dog that had been abandoned in a backyard.
“You have to go get that dog,” she urged.
So I found myself walking into the animal shelter for the first time, a little overwhelmed and not sure if I even really wanted a dog at all.
The stark concrete and chain link mixed with some dogs barking, noses pressed to the fence, and others cowering in the corner, didn’t do anything to calm my nerves.
But there was something about the aloofness of this dog I came to look at that won me over. We went into the gated yard meant for giving people and their canine counterparts a chance to interact.
We mostly just stared at each other.
Like any good relationship, we started out slow. I brought her home, and we took some time, just giving each other space, getting used to having the other one around.
I can’t say exactly when it happened. But it did happen. We became family.
She came with her own idiosyncrasies — but I have my own so I couldn’t really hold them against her.
Perhaps her worst tendency was one I probably share with her. When Roxy feels insecure or uncomfortable, or just annoyed, she reacts with aggression. A veterinarian even told me once, “That’s the problem when you adopt a dog from the shelter, you adopt someone else’s problems.”
I’ve never once regretted the problems I adopted.
In fact, we went to dog obedience classes. We walked endless loops around the trail in Riverview Park to get her accustomed to seeing — and trusting — strangers appearing along the way.
Her natural reaction to bare her teeth, growl, even lunge at people has tempered over the years. My nieces and nephews lay on her, play with her, feed her from their tiny little hands.
Since I got married almost four months ago, she’s had to adjust to having someone else around the house. (And he’s had to adjust to her little quirks).
But I can’t imagine my life without her. She’s been my companion, my motivator and my protector. Truly, my best friend.
And it all started from a visit to the animal shelter.
Today, I’m going to go back. I’m going to go check out the unveiling of the new facility that’s more than twice the size of the last one, with tiled floors and vaulted ceilings. They have private rooms where you can get acquainted with your new pets.
There will be an open house 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. today and 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Sunday at 549 Airport Road.
It’s an exciting addition to Carson City, and not just for the animals’ sake.
It gives people a better chance of finding that perfect cat or dog that will make life so much happier, like it did for me.
Someone else’s “problem” became my saving grace.