Penny’s Tale


The shelter was about to put down the little brown dog, and then someone noticed that she might have some dachshund in her. They called Dachshund Rescue of North America to see if they’d take her. A volunteer went to pick her up, and realized immediately that she was no dachshund. But instead of leaving her to die, they took her to a foster home in Ohio.

Her picture appeared on the DRNA web site for months, but there were no takers. When people from the Ohio rescue came to Pennsylvania for a training session, they brought Penny along. They turned her over to the rescue that we were working with, thinking she’d do better with an organization that wasn’t breed-specific.

A few weeks earlier, Raleigh had gone to his new family, and we somewhat reluctantly agreed to take Penny in as a foster. She had been put into rescue originally because she’d bitten the toddler in her home (in Marietta, Georgia). They had tried and tried to make it work, but in the end decided it was just too risky. See, Penny thought she was the alpha. She tried to dominate the toddler, and I suspect that she also was dominant over the parents in the home (I now wonder how they’re doing with the toddler!).

When we brought her crate into the house and opened the door, she walked out like she owned the place. I thought she was the ugliest dog I’d ever seen. She wore a filthy pink harness, and honestly, she was a little scary. When we first got her, she’d growl if we tried to pet her while she was lying on the couch or in her bed. One morning as I petted her with my foot while she laid in bed, she bit my big toe.

Just after she arrived

When we tried to interact with Penny during those first few weeks, she would inevitably go get her ball or a toy. She seemed to use it as a barrier between herself and us, as if she didn’t trust us to get too close. She’d play fetch FOREVER if we let her, and we soon began storing her ball on top of the refrigerator.

Her favorite 'gator

After a few months she was still on the rescue’s web site, and she was getting about 500 hits a week. But only one family called to ask about her. They’d never had a dog before, and the primary caretaker would’ve been their eight year-old son. We and the rescue didn’t feel this would be a good fit for Penny. She doesn’t deal well with new people—barking and nipping until she calms down—and we knew that a kid would have different friends coming and going all the time.

Finally, after months on the web site with no success, we decided Penny was already home. We still didn’t like her much, but her dominance issues were subsiding a bit as she realized that J.P. and I were in charge and we wouldn’t put up with her thinking otherwise.

What'cha doin', Dad?

I don’t know how or when she managed to burrow that wiggly little body into our hearts, but somehow she did. Her tail began to wag a little more, and we laugh because it completely uncurls when she’s relaxed. She still has her issues, but now we see them as personality quirks and we’ve almost learned to appreciate them.

We have no idea how she got from her original home in Georgia to the shelter in Ohio, or how many homes she had in between. But several people must have cared about her along the way because she arrived in Pennyslvania with two crates, several leashes, and some toys. She’s been very lucky.

Unfortunately, it seems that Penny’s luck has run out. The ultrasound yesterday revealed cancer in her stomach, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Six months of weekly chemo might only buy her another six months of life. Tears stream down my face as I tell you that we’ve decided to make her comfortable and happy for as long as we can, and then we’re going to let her rest.



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