My husband Eldad was on his way to a crowded animal shelter to look at a dog who he claimed “had a horrible looking photo.” Labeled a terrier mix, and he’s already stayed a week over his welcome. We are full time dog rescuers so we are used to the inevitable.
I got a call, “You won’t believe how cute this dog is and he’s already spayed, so he’s coming home with me today.” Later that afternoon, I walked into our house to be greeted by our two rescue white terriers and this fluffy ball of fluff that licked me like I was her best friend. “Oh, you look like a pumpkin,” I said. And so Pumpkin instantly became part of the family. Eventually we would have to find her an adoptable home, but she was so crushing and potty trained and so perfect /
Two days later, Eldad and I had to go talk to a class of children at an author festival about the dogs and other creatures we had raised in our home. We had no idea what we were going to say, so we brought our book and We Bringing Pumpkin as an example of how a rescued dog is a friendly and lovable dog. He just hoped Pumpkin wasn’t too scared. I had her tied up and planned to have her on my lap the entire time.
The children were second graders and they were very kind and caring, and I realized that they were too young to really expose themselves to the term “euthanasia” and it would be inappropriate to tell horror stories about abused animals. Eldad presented a power point presentation of photos of many of the cats and dogs and other creatures that we had kept in the house. The kids screamed and screamed and then suddenly Pumpkin jumped off my lap. As if possessed, Pumpkin plunged into the crowd of children like she was a rock star throwing herself into the crowd.
The mood immediately changed and suddenly everyone went crazy for Pumpkin. She had been neglected all her life and had never received so much love and affection from so many people at the same time. It was as if he instinctively knew, “I have to get the message out, the stray dogs in the kennel are the coolest dogs in the world.” The love of cuddling and hugging was amazing and instead of a stiff presentation, we now had a really relaxed and exciting dialogue with the students.
Now we learned to let Pumpkin work his magic. She walked diplomatically around the class and let each second grader have equal time to pet her.
These little ones were filled with questions and did not stop raising their hands with comments and in the end they asked for our autographs.
When Eldad, Pumpkin, and I finished the day and left campus, most of the students were outside at the tables having lunch. The second they saw us, they started yelling, “Pumpkin!”
I had an army of kids chasing me trying to get to the superstar Pumpkin. Their teacher informed me that most of these children were first generation born in the United States and were not culturally exposed to animals as “part of the family.”
It is surprising to think that this dog who had had such an impact in a few hours on so many people, just two days before, had been sitting in a cage, considered unworthy to live.
There are many pumpkins facing the same fate, and hopefully someday these youngsters will remember that you chose to save an animal rather than support puppy mills and pet stores. Maybe other pumpkins have loving homes instead of being torn apart by the pound. I can only hope.