Hot Off The Collar Blog

The Long Goodbye

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 24

We’ve had cats that have stayed with us longer. We’ve had dogs that were much harder to train. We’ve had dozens, maybe hundreds of animals who for various reasons, we struggled to rehome, but not a single one has endeared himself to the staff more than Pimms. 

Pimms was one of eight dogs that arrived last spring as part of a transfer from Texas. Texas is one of those states that is constantly overrun with stray dogs. We don’t really know why they have this problem but we do know that adult, mixed-breed dogs have a tragically short lifespan under the hot Texas sun. If they don’t die of starvation, exposure, or trauma, they are often euthanized in shelters that have neither the space nor the resources to hold animals for any length of time. Last spring as we rode out the end of that first wave of lockdowns, we knew we had the room and the time to find a home for eight Texan dogs that deserved a better fate. The transfer arrived on May 25th and we immediately knew we’d made the right decision. This was a group of goofy, spirited but healthy and happy dogs. Within a couple of weeks, we put their pics and bios on our website and watched the applications roll in. The first to find a home was July followed by Hammy, Violet, Mika, Lukey and Beauty. As summer rolled into fall, just two remained – Snoop and Pimms. By this time, we had gathered a lot of information about Pimms. Based on his behaviour, it was likely he’d never had a real home. It was also quite possible he didn’t understand how to be a dog. He wasn’t quite feral but he was a bit wild. He was also a cattle dog and his default behaviour was genetically programmed into his DNA; he wanted to herd everything. Staff? You bet; he’d herd you into a corner by nipping at the back of your pants. Dog walkers? Of course; more nipping and more herding. Other dogs? Them too. However, they didn’t always take kindly to Pimms’ obsessive behaviour so we had to avoid dog-to-dog contact. Cats? We didn’t even try.

After Snoop found his forever home in September, Pimms was like Davey Crockett at the Alamo, he was the last Texan standing. Meanwhile within the staff, doubt was beginning to creep in. Doubt is an occupational hazard in animal welfare but we pushed it aside and held out hope that we’d find an adopter for Pimms at Big Paws in City Park. During the dog adoption parade Boss Lady Leanne and Jesse from Country 93.5 did their best to show off Pimms’ best attributes. He was crazy smart and learning new commands at a rapid pace. He wasn’t aggressive (except for that herding thing) and he had a beauty born from that alert posture and those incredibly expressive eyes. Surely someone looking for the perfect pet would see him and find room in their heart and their home. Sadly, it didn’t happen and once again Pimms was returned to an empty ward. A few weeks later I decided to take Pimms for a walk. I felt a wave of optimism as we wandered the neighbourhood without so much as a nudge or a nip so we started scheduling longer weekend walks. It really seemed to help him, but as fall rolled into winter without any applications, hope was waning. On a winter morning after a huge snowfall, I took Pimms out to pee and then led him into Missy’s Way for a bit of off-leash exercise. After our successful walking regimen, I assumed the worst of his behaviour had been resolved. You can probably guess what happened next. I got herded. A lot. He nipped the back of my pants compulsively until at one point, I was sure he was either going to tear them or tear through them into my leg. 

We started looking into rescues for him but they were all full. We tried specific appeals to former adopters who’d successfully handled dogs with similar issues but at every turn we were met with disappointment. As National Adoption week approached, we decided to feature Pimms on our social media channels for the full week. We were putting all our efforts into finding this boy a home. We posted pics and stories and videos and held our breath. Just prior to the final post on March 1st, we got an application for Pimms. We scheduled a meet and greet with his potential adopter and crossed our collective fingers. Often, these introductory sessions are just a first step and the potential family needs time to discuss and come to a decision. However, this particular meet and greet went so well, they decided to adopt him on the spot. 

On Saturday, March 2nd, 281 days after he arrived from Texas, Pimms went to his forever home. In a traditional send off for animals that have stayed with us for a long period of time, the staff lined up out the front door to say goodbye to him. It’s a strange dynamic when long-term residents go home. We’re often so attached to them that it’s hard to say goodbye but the tears are gently wiped away by the elation and joy of seeing an animal get the home they so richly deserve. 

Since his adoption Pimms’ new family has sent us several updates. This dog who in his brief time on earth had never known an actual home, was now joining his family on walks, going to work to be an office buddy, watching backyard wildlife from the living room window and soaking up the love of his forever family. 

In our role as an animal welfare organization, we get to know thousands of animals every year. They all receive the same high level of love, care and attention but every once in a while, an animal comes along that leaves an indelible mark on our hearts. That was Pimms and while we’ll miss him; we’re thrilled that he’s found his forever home. So, from every vet tech, vet assistant, admin staffer and manager that spent time with him, we’re sending one last head pat and one final “good boy Pimms.” You did it buddy and we couldn’t be prouder of you.


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