Our little dog, Max, came down to Brownwood with Wendy over Christmas and never left.
And that is good, because as the little girl and I got reacquainted, I started to realize how empty my apartment and my day-to-day routine would be without her.
She even comes to the office with me after hours and lays in her little memory foam bed and helps the Bulletin staff late-nighters — usually me and Derrick Stuckly and the great folks in production, press and insertion — get the paper over the goal line.
Max is a “Chiweenie.” We think. She definitely has portions of both breeds, but we can’t be sure. You see, Max was a rescue dog.
We found her at an adoption event at a PetSmart store in the Kansas City area around this time of year back in 2008. She took to us right away, but the folks she was fostered with told us she was not a fan of other dogs.
After about half an hour walking and carrying her around the store, I headed to the ATM to get the adoption fee.
Max became part of our family. She slept in our bed, ate meals at the same time as us and even watched Ohio State and Pittsburg (Kan.) State University football games with me. She would come outside on all-day or all-night barbeque nights when I would smoke meats into the wee hours.
Max came with me to Joplin, Mo., when I taught college journalism there and lived Monday through Friday away from Wendy.
Those of you with dogs will understand the close bond between me and Max.
And that is what made a story I read on the Associated Press wire Friday so heart breaking. It was about the animal control department in Odessa.
Here is the opening paragraph that set the tone:
“Between Jan. 1, 2013 and Oct. 31, Odessa Animal Control euthanized 5,442 animals, many of which the department claimed were unadoptable, according to official numbers from the department.”
Now I am a newly minted Texan and I know this is a big state and that Odessa is a good three-and-a-half-hour drive from Brownwood, but that sentence hit close to home.
The AP story said that the department claims that the vast majority of those animals were unadoptable.
“During the 10 months — only 353 of the 5,442 animals euthanized were considered adoptable by Animal Control standards,” the story said.
And like any reporter — or person with any semblance of critical thinking — that claim really didn’t pass the sniff test.
I wasn’t the only one that asked some questions about that claim, either. According to the story, Holly Dool, founder of the rescue group Caring for the Animals of Midland and Odessa, ran her red flag up the pole, too.
“They are saying … that only 353 (animals) were adoptable? Question mark, question mark,” she told the AP.
And Becky Tiner, a former Odessan now living in Grapevine, decided what was needed was something that is very Texan and very American: good old fashioned participatory democracy. She went right to the heart of the First Amendment liberty that is too often overlooked.
She petitioned the governemtn for a redress of grievances. Working with Dool, Tiner started a petition that asks for five changes, including the hiring of a veterinarian for the shelter; a rescue coordinator approved by the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee; and the implementation of a spay/neuter program as well as a vaccination program.
These women hope to have the petition before the Odessa City Council either this month or next.
I hope they get some traction here. Their concern is valid and their requests are reasonable.
Charles Schultz had it half right. Happiness is a warm puppy. But happiness is also a loving puppy with a warm human.
They all deserve a life like Max. Now my dog and I are going to watch football, cook ribs and have a cold one.
Just like we were born Texan.
Thom Hanrahan is the editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.