It turns out that adopting a dog from a Hospital is quite an undertaking. Laboratory dogs are born and raised in crates and so Trouble was used to being in one. We needed to have a vehicle that the crate would fit in to transport her home. My now mother-in-law, Kim, offered up her minivan and her city driving expertise to travel down and pick up Trouble. We both got off of work a little early and headed down to Thomas Jefferson to get Trouble. We had strict instructions to park behind the Hospital in the loading zone – it’s not as if they can just bring a dog in a crate out the front door – imagine what the populace would think?!
We parked in the back and waited for them to bring Trouble out. Suddenly a lab technician came around the loading dock with a rolling cart covered in a white sheet – was that really her? We went over to meet him and sure enough, Trouble was in her crate under the sheet. He stressed to us that she might have a tough time adjusting to the outdoors and to keep the sheet on until we arrived home. The entire ride home she made not a single peep. It was very eerie.
When we arrived home, everyone was waiting to greet her and welcome her home. We opened the back of the minivan and took off the sheet. She was curled up in a tiny ball in the back corner of the crate, and had gotten sick all over the rest of it. She hadn’t even made a sound, I felt horrible. We lowered the crate to the ground and opened the door. Not surprisingly, she made not a move and we decided we would have to undo the crate to get her safely out of it. My Dad set to work unscrewing the top and once we had it opened, the poor thing just shook and tried to find a place to hide from all of us. I couldn’t blame her – this was all so new to her.
We carried her inside (no small feat, she probably weighed around 50 pounds) and my mother set to work acclimating her to the environment around her. No one was to encroach upon her space, talk loudly, or approach her at all. She needed time to figure out what exactly was going on. It took quite some time for her to adjust. She did not leave my mother’s side for days, even weeks after that first day home. It took her a while to eat and drink, and even at that my mom would sit next to her and drip the water onto her lips so that she at least wouldn’t dehydrate. This was such a foreign world to her and we were determined to make her feel like she belonged in it.
The first time she went outside it was quite evident she was outside of her comfort zone. The sensation of the grass on her feet, the smell of the grass, the wind and air, the sunshine – all were entirely new to her. It was as if we were watching a new born child discover the world for the first time, and it was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience for all of us.
I mentioned before that one of the first things we knew was going to change once we had her home with us would be her name. Trouble just didn’t seem to fit her personality. When she sat she bent one of her front paws as if she were a true lady – and we decided that her name would be Lady.
To Be Continued...