Smoochie and Moe

As this New Year came upon me, I gave pause to remember some of the great things that happened to me, and mine, in 2004. Two of my most wonderful events involved WIN.

Having had 2 Wheatens before, both of whom had long since “crossed over the bridge”, my husband, Jeff, began exploring the possibility of getting me (us) another Wheaten in late 2003.

Being the “surfer” he is, he discovered WIN’s web page. Not being sure we wanted to add to our family (we already had an Elkhound adopted almost 10 years earlier from a local shelter), we spent several months considering and looking at the dogs available thru WIN. We had been e-mailing about adopting a dog when we got an unexpected e-mail from Gwen and Tina Thomas telling us that Miss Smoochie was available for adoption. Without hesitation, we wrote back to say we wanted to be her “forever home.”

Even though she was so far from us (she was in Indiana and we live in Pennsylvania), we never hesitated in our decision to go out to Indiana to get her. In fact, we quickly developed a “road” song, which we planned on signing on our trip out to pick her up. (For those of you who are old enough to remember, we used the old song “Going to Kansas City” as the basis for our road song.

The real song’s lyrics go something like – going to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come; they got some crazy little women there and I’m going get me one… We used that tune and fashioned some new words, indicating we were going to Indiana to get Smoochie. While it wouldn’t win any music awards, it was fun to sing and kept us energized during our long one-day trip to ID.)

When we (Jeff, Max and me) started out (at 3 AM) on March 27, 2004, it was pouring down raining. Being March, it was cold; in fact, much colder than normal for that time of the year.

The closer we got to Indiana, however, the more the weather improved. As we crossed over the Indiana border, the sun was shinning bright and the temperature had risen considerable. The weather change was the first indicator of the light Smoochie would bring into our lives, and the warmth she would give us always!

As the drop-off car pulled into the meeting area, we could see this cute, little wheaten head sticking out the SUV window. It was obvious that Smoochie was an alert, active Wheaten. During the transfer, she showed her vim and vigor. While she was curious about us, she was more interested in playing with her wheaten foster brother. Before we pushed off, her foster dad took her a walk around the grounds. (In thinking about that moment now, I’m not sure who walked whom!) While the parting was, as the saying goes, “such sweet sorrow” for the foster family – human and furry members, it was the beginning of a wonderful experience for us – one that continues to this very day.

We stayed over night at a Red Roof Inn in Ohio, and Max and Smoochie were so good together you’d think they had been raised together. During the whole trip back to Pennsylvania, Max and Smoochie rode without friction or incident. It’s been that way ever since!
Given the conditions she endured during her early development, Smoochie does have some “issues.’ However, none of them rise to the level of being difficult or disheartening. Over the almost 10 months we have had her, she has grown in confidence, trust and maturity. (I’m sure those of you who have – or had – puppies or very young dogs would agree that many times maturity cures what nothing else can!)

While she has some way to go (grow), the old commercial slogan is certainly applicable to her – “you’ve come a long way baby!” In fact, the experience w/ Miss Smooch has been so wonderful, that my husband and I have fostered 2 WIN Wheatens. The 1st, Winston, was rescued by us from a shelter in southern PA. After a good clean-up and several weeks of normalization, he was successfully adopted to a Maryland woman who had applied to WIN earlier. As of this writing, Winston, and his new forever Mom (with whom we maintain contact) and sister, Monet (another Wheaten), are living “happily ever after!”

Our 2nd Wheaten foster started on 11/22/04 when my husband and I picked Moe up from Jocelyn and Doug, WIN members who were running the last leg of Moe’s WURL. (He had been an owner-surrender to a shelter in Camden, NJ.) We met Jocelyn, Doug and Moe at a gas station near Allentown, PA. Without a doubt, it was love at 1st sight. Moe was too sweet for words!! It was obvious from the very start that Mr. Moe was a “keeper.” He showed his sweet disposition, eagerness to please, intelligence and more in the first few minutes we were together.

Jocelyn confided in me that Moe had stolen Doug’s heart, and they had only been together for a matter of hours!!! While Doug wanted to keep him, he (reluctantly) agreed that their household was already full (w/ their dog, Maggie, who just suffered a heart attack that weekend and a foster dog.) So, we loaded Moe up in our truck, and started for home. When we got home, Moe’s magic proved to extend beyond humans because he immediately won over Miss Smooch and our “old guy”, Max.

Aside from issues arising from being “in tact”, Moe was a dream guest. He learned our routine quickly and settled into the family. Having been neutered on 11/30, I began thinking about a permanent home for Moe. While I had already decided that home should be w/ us, my (wonderful) husband, Jeff, reminded me that we had undertaken this with the clear understanding that we were only going to foster Moe.

Reluctantly, I acknowledged this, and started reviewing adoption applications. Not really wanting to hurry the process along, I took my time reviewing the applications. A few days later I had identified several promising ones, and was about to make some calls when Gwen issued her reminder to foster families not to attempt to have their dogs adopted until after the holiday season.

Such a sound bit of advice, and one that fit perfectly into my plan to keep Moe w/us as long as humanly possible! I showed Gwen’s message to Jeff and told him that we would have to keep Moe thru the holidays. He reluctantly agreed. The holiday preparations proceeded as planned, w/ little thought being given to Moe’s impending move to a new home. However, my husband, who knows me too well, kept reminding me that Moe was only staying w/ us temporarily – he would have to find a new home after the holidays.

For a moment, my hope soared because my husband got Moe a Christmas stocking, and let personalize it just like they ones that Miss Smooch and Max have. However, Jeff reminded me (over and over again) that he got Moe the stocking so that he could get his presents the same way our dogs did!

Christmas morning came, and true to my nature, I opened presents w/ the hope that somehow Jeff was giving me (us) Moe for Christmas. Imagine how I felt as I got to the last two presents and still saw no signs that I was getting Moe! On one hand, I’m having a great time opening presents, enjoying the moment and being thankful for all I was getting and on the other hand, dreading the fact that Moe wasn’t among my wonderful gifts.

Jeff then handed me my last two gifts. They were (obviously) two pieces of jewelry. Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE jewelry, and Jeff has such great taste! However, I would have preferred a present of Moe. Opening the first box, I found a truly beautiful pendant. I began to open the second box, wondering what “gem” it would hold. Upon flipping it open, I started to (uncontrollably) holler, “Oh my God!. For probably a full 3 minutes, I could do nothing but cry and repeat “Oh, my God! What gem caused me to react so, you ask? A beautiful blue dog tag with the name Moe Thomas on it, along with our phone number!!! I don’t think I will ever again view an inexpensive piece of stamped blue steel as I did this tag – it was priceless!!!!

After I calmed down and stopped hugging Jeff, Moe, Smoochie and Max, I asked Jeff how this came about. Only then did he tell me that Gwen and Pat Simrell had been in on it all along; that he had put in to adopt Moe several weeks earlier; and, had asked Gwen and Pat to help him keep up the hoax that Moe was going on to a different forever home after the holidays. Gwen issued her reminder adoption notice to all the foster homes earlier than she would have otherwise done just so Jeff could stop me from making adoption inquiries that he knew would never be needed. This was just one of the ways that Gwen, Pat and Jeff worked together to give me the best Christmas ever.

So, when you read this (long) story about the success we have had in adopting Wheatens thru WIN, just remember that thru this organization you not only get an opportunity to adopt a dog and give them a good home, thereby helping to compensate for the tough times they had to previously endure, you also get to associate with some of the best People in the world – People who care for animals and People, who work together to bring good (experiences) into the world. Any with that realization, I wish everyone a good 2005. May it be your best year ever (because it will be mine!)