Me waiting with Esteban at the Sacramento SPCA

In late 2019, on my way home one day from the zoo, traffic and road work kind of pushed me over to the right-side lane on Fruitridge Road in Sacramento, and when I got to the intersection at Florin Perkins, I decided at that moment to drive down to the SPCA and look at the dogs there. I wasn’t expecting this side trip and didn’t have a crate or leash or anything in the car.

Anyway, when I got to the SPCA, I stopped at their adoptions desk and asked about their process. Go into the kennels, find a dog (or up to 3 dogs) you’re interested in, go back to the front desk and fill out the adoption paperwork while the staff gets the dog ready for you to see. I’d actually looked at three other dogs before I spotted Esteban (a 10 year old Chihuahua mix): a tiny Chihuahua that I thought was very cute, but it started whining the second I walked away… a Beagle mix that I decided was too large… and a small white dog that I liked, but as I was watching it I noticed it had a kind of stand-offish air to it (which indicates to me that the dog was suppressing whatever it was actually feeling). Then I saw Esteban.

He was laying in his bed but stood up and walked right toward me when he saw me, one ear straight up, one ear bent down. Too cute! He’s about 8 pounds, tan/brown, with dark brown eyes, and a muzzle that’s gone white with his age. His name means “crown” in Spanish, I think.

I read the info sheets on the front of his kennel, and they all seemed very positive: good on a leash, good with other dogs, couch potato that likes to go on walks (Hah! That one sounded like me.) He was fixed and microchipped, current on all of his vaccinations, heartworm negative… So, I asked to meet him and filled out the paperwork for the adoption. I have to admit that the SPCA’s adoption form was the least comprehensive one I’d ever seen. Took me about 5 minutes.

When I went into the visiting room to meet Esteban, he walked in on a leash, came right up to me, sat in my lap and laid his head against my arm… like he had been there forever. Awwwwww. Love at first touch.

I told them I wanted him, so they had me wait with him while they did whatever paperwork and data entry they needed to do for their own records. While I was waiting for that, I sat with Esteban in the lobby. Several people came in to look at the dogs, and when they walked by Esteban they asked if I was adopting him, and I said, yes. Lots of oooo’s and awwww’s, and “Look at how cute he is”, and “Look at how mellow he is,” and “I want a dog like that.”

His paperwork said he was just fixed about 10 days ago (which is weird for a 10-year-old dog) and when they took his man-stuff, they also cut off two of his dew claws and pulled out his bad teeth. He also had a fatty tumor near his man-stuff which they took out (non-cancerous), and got an eye exam which indicated that he’s starting to lose his eyesight. I kind of figured that, considering his age.

According to the SPCA, he was originally found as a stray, was adopted by an 89-year-old woman, then brought back to the shelter when the woman’s big dogs didn’t get along with him. So, he’s been through a lot in a short period of time.

When the staff got all of the paperwork together, they called me up to the desk and I got out my credit card to pay the adoption fee. I was astonished to be told that the adoption fee was being paid by a staff member, so it didn’t cost me anything. Flabbergasted. I almost started crying and thanked them profusely… I certainly felt that it meant I was SUPPOSED to have Esteban.

Just as I was leaving, one of big mucky-mucks at the place came up and congratulated me on adopting him. (They may do that for everyone.) She asked how old Esteban was, and I told her: 10 years. And she looked a little surprised. “How wonderful of you! That makes it extra special!” Yeah, I told her I specifically wanted a senior dog, and was really glad to have found him. “Oh, bless you! We need more adopters like you.”

I put him in the back seat of the car where he stayed, like a good dog, for the drive home. The deal breaker was going to be if my sister Melissa’s dogs would accept Esteban. I carried him into the house and Abby and Gibson ran up to see him. Gibson was jumping and barking (which is normal for him), and Esteban didn’t growl or bark back or anything. Super-mellow. I carried him outside and put him down so everyone could see and sniff everyone, and things went really, really, really well. Melissa’s dogs were great with Esteban! I was so pleased. Phew!

Esteban with my sister, Melissa

So, say welcome to Esteban!

During his first year with me, Esteban learned “stay” and “use your steps” and “wait”… and I learned that he hated crates and didn’t like letting me out of his sight — not even to go to bathroom.

In mid-2020 he tweaked something in his back, and had to go on medication and restricted movement for several months. It’s not unusual for long-bodied dogs to have back issues. But he was in so much pain for a few days, I cried and cried and got no sleep. Once his medications kicked in he was back to his bouncy, funny self.

Since that time, he has become regular fixture in our house and family, and provides me with laughter and comfort every day.

Hugs to you, baby boy.

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist

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