There came a time when Benny felt ready to get a dog. He decided to rescue one from an animal shelter, and had found one not too far away. When he walked through the door, there was someone standing behind the front desk with her hand around a steaming mug on the counter, which was caught nicely by a spot of sunlight from the front window (that she seemed unaware of because she was looking away). He could tell it was spiced chai latte when he, and his nose, got closer.
He had called ahead to check that there might be a suitable mutt on hand (and she must have been the one he spoke to) and he was told there were a few small and medium dogs they had available for adoption.
Once taken through to where the animals were kept, standing out from the line up of potential new best-friends was a medium sized biscuit-coloured dog with a happy grin. “He came in not long ago,” she said, “and we haven’t even given him a name yet. He didn’t come in with one, and we’ve just been calling him Boy. But he’s had all the health checks.” She said the dog was already de-sexed, and seemed to be familiar with some commands, like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, so must have had some basic training at some stage.
She said he had a microchip but it wasn’t on the animal register, and they were going to fix that. “Did you have a name in mind Ben?” Before coming to the shelter he had been thinking that maybe Fang would be a good name, and a bit out there too, but right then had a sudden re-think and with a slight motion towards her mug said “Maybe chai… he’s the right colour.” She thought that would be a nice name for a dog.
I must admit that there was also in this choice a subtle nod towards our old dog Milo, who had been a darker brown colour — another grinning friend from long ago.
“Before we look at the paperwork, why don’t you take him for a short walk, just to make sure you’ll be comfortable with him,” she said. “There’s a big grass area over there that’s part of the shelter’s grounds,” and she put on an old leash for Benny to use. “Try a few commands, and practice being in control. Like make sure you walk through gates or doorways first, before he does, to show you’re in charge. It’s good to get him to sit” (and he sat) “before crossing a road, and try a command to get him to start walking again.”
She suggested ‘release’, as it doesn’t sound like many other everyday words, so shouldn’t be confusing, and when she said that the dog (or Chai as he’ll learn to be called), stood up like he was ready to walk. “Hey! You know, he must have been to obedience classes. I’ve heard some trainers actually use the word ‘release’, that’s why I suggested it. He must have heard it before too. You know what, why don’t I come with you for a short try-out walk. We can even go along the streets around here and try a few commands. We’ll find out what he can do.”
So they all three walked out into the sun, to test for that previous training, and also for Benny to start to get to know his new friend. He was glad he had made this decision, and felt no regrets.