Purebred Chessapeake Bay Retreivers had always been our dog of choice. But in the summer of 2002, about a year after our last Chessie passed away, our daughter wanted my husband and me to meet a tan and white sharpei/pitbull mix that she had taken a shine to at the CRARL where she had been volunteering. So we did, and after we had exhausted every excuse not to adopt him, Booker came home with us, joining our family of six.
During the first two weeks he chased our chickens, ripped clothing, pulled sheets and towels off the clothesline and charged full speed into each one of us, knocking us to the ground. We thought we may have chosen a dog that was more than we could handle, and the day came when we were ready to return him to the shelter. But the kids convinced us to give him another chance. He may have had a few terrible habits, but he was also jaunty, loveable, handsome and smart as a whip. So we kept him, and it wasn't long before he stopped chasing the chickens and began protecting them instead, barking and chasing any fox, hawk or coyote away that came near them.
He also loved to learn and was easier to teach than any other dog we had known. He learned the usual sit, stay, and lie down commands, and then some additional, more unusual tricks, such as to nudge with his nose, sneeze, yawn, growl, bow down, jump through a hula hoop, among others. He was always eager to perform for anyone, filling the kitchen with applause and laughter. A well-behaved passenger, he loved to join my husband in his truck, especially when he plowed the driveway, and would brace himself on the seat with perfect timing. The love we gave him was returned twofold, and he would welcome the kids home from college with a tennis ball in his mouth and tail wagging doubletime.
We were very sad when Booker passed away last month, and miss him so very much. But we are also thankful we decided to give him a chance. In his honor we would like to say that if you haven't tried adopting a dog or other animal from the shelter, you may want to give it a try. You just may find an unexpected, wonderful surprise like Booker.