Boo and Buster    

Courtesy Diane Suter

We put out a call in Caliente for people to share their animal rescue stories.  

Craig Suter was the first to reply with his story that shows the importance of friendship and never giving up:

When my Chihuahua/Pug (Chug) Tasha died of a heart ailment in March 2012, we took it as a hard loss. Our kids had all grown and moved on and our two dogs were our family. Tasha's companion, Flaco was especially affected. She was his "big sister" to play with and tease. He moped around, showing little interest in anything. We are very concerned with our animal’s happiness and believe in the companion dog principle.

We tried to get another Pug but none were available locally. About two weeks after Tasha died, on a hunch, I stopped at the Pima Animal Shelter. There were no Pugs but a shy and withdrawn white dog intrigued me. He would approach the gate but the other dogs in the pen would push him aside until he was at the back of the pack, where he seemed to be content. The attendant told me that dog had already passed the usual time allotted for adoption and had been extended for another week. He added that the dog was "blue lined", meaning he was on that day's euthanasia list.

Just then this dog yawned and I saw that he had a protruding lower jaw and teeth. That's a feature of the Chug crossbreed. I got to take him to the visit area where he paid very little attention to me until I began to pet and talk to him. Then his tail came up from its place firmly tucked between his legs and curled into a magnificent "O", another Chug attribute. That settled it. For the price of a handicapped owner's license, ("blue-lined" animals are free of adoption fees other than the annual license) Buster, the most gentle and unassuming dog we have ever seen, came home.

Sadly, Flaco succumbed to a chronic lung problem seven weeks after Buster came home. He had shown some interest in Buster but we could sense he still mourned Tasha. We believe that he really died of missing her. We prefer to have our dogs companioned and so Buster and I set out on a quest. Small dogs were in short supply at this time locally, so, after referring to and creating a list of interesting dogs, we drove up to Pinal county.

Several hours later, Buster and I met Clooney at the Humane Society shelter in Casa Grande. He was not on the list, he just happened to kennel with a dog that was on the list. As soon as Buster set eyes on the little jet-black dog with white features, the game was on. They began to chase and tumble in puppy play, growling and snarling, gnawing at any available body part without inspiring so much as a whimper. It was all in pure fun.

Then the lady at the shelter told me Clooney's story.

A family with a toddler adopted him right from an eight-week old litter along with Clooney’s sibling-brother. Apparently, the new owners never taught the child that dogs are not like toys and should not be scrunched, thrown, kicked or any of the other things toddlers do to inanimate objects. The brother dog did not survive the experience. Clooney must have resorted to nipping the child as a defense. Animal control was called when the father was beating Clooney and the mother did not want a second dead dog. Eventually, Clooney found himself with the Casa Grande Humane Society. 

I could not get too close to this dog, all of ten pounds of miniature rat terrier. He would duck, jump and do the most impressive acrobatics to avoid me. Finally, one of the shelter girls swooped him into my arms. I carefully petted the shaking dog. I could tell he was a sweet little guy and had had a rough start in life. I was not sure I could do much for such a psychologically damaged dog but the bond between Buster and Clooney was undeniable. Buster was practically striping the skin off my legs trying to reengage play with this little dog. Clooney had a new home.

And name. He had four white paws contrasted against black fur so he became Boots. Something about his reaction to that name told us that it was not acceptable. We started calling him Boo, for the way he hid behind furniture and poked his head shyly out. That seemed to be better to his taste. His whole essence changed and seemed to be happier about it.

Two years later now, Boo is a different dog. He would not let me touch him for months. Then, it was okay if he was with Mom, my wife Diane. Slowly, he began to appreciate that I would never hurt him and he was safe. In just the past few weeks, after being gone for a two-week vacation, he craves my attention and wants to engage with me. He and Buster are the best of friends and share everything, including treats and lickable plates. And best of all, Buster and Boo have healed our hearts so broken after the loss of Tasha.