Chester Berkeley

Pulled: Monday May 2, 2011 from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter

Adoption Commitment: Sunday May 22, 2011

Meet Chester 2. To start with, we called him Chester. But, after Chester 1, the name didn’t feel right to us. How would we distinguish our Chester dogs? After all, we planned to have a lot. — 22 to 28 of them. Because Scott travels throughout the state of South Carolina with his job, we decided to give the dogs a second name, based on SC towns/cities/counties. We’d start with the second letter “B” for our second foster and go alphabetically from there.

So Chester 2 became Chester Berkeley.

Arina and I went to the shelter after Chester, the First to pull our next foster, but Howard wasn’t there to help us. Perhaps he was there somewhere — the shelter was busy that day — but he wasn’t at the front desk, like I had hoped he would be. A very nice lady, Marion, was there, but she was busy answering the phone and helping other people. When I told her we were there to adopt, she asked us to go look at the available dogs. This is something I had said I would not do, but I didn’t want her to think I was hanging over her shoulder, and Arina was getting restless.

We went back to the kennels, and I was impressed by how clean and pleasant they were. The walls were painted a pale pink, and dogs could choose to be either inside or out. Still, many, if not all, of them were stressed. — more so, because of the barking that inevitably erupts when visitors walk the halls.

There was one dog, in particular, that knocked over his food bowl in his eagerness to break through the chain-linked door to his kennel. A white Eskimo Spitz/Corgi mix. But there was a sign on his door that said, “I have a home.” “But you have a home!” I told him every time I walked by, and he jumped and climbed and whined.

When Marion was free to help us, I asked her the same question I asked Howard. “Which dog do you most want to see in a home?” She immediately gave me the kennel number of the white Spitz. “But, I thought he had a home!” I said. She told me that he had been selected for adoption earlier that day, that he had been so excited to get out, but that he had been brought back an hour later, because he wasn’t “small enough” for the adoptive parent’s girlfriend.

Marion gave me a leash, and Arina and I went straight back to get Chester Berkeley. He was so excited that I had to run a bit to keep up with him. His story is a strange one. Marion said that he showed up in their drop kennels with another dog that had already been adopted. He had been neutered already, which suggests that he had been cared for at one time. Marion explained that most of the time, people who have to take their pets to a shelter because they’ve fallen onto hard times and can no longer care for them do so during the daytime hours, so that they can talk to the shelter workers about how special their pet is. Or, if they drop them after hours, they’ll leave a note. Not so with Berkeley.

Scott, Arina and I created all sorts of stories for Chester B., but the one we kept going back to was that he had been lost, or was brought to the shelter by family members once an elderly owner died. Berkeley ran into our house with enthusiasm, and went from room to room as if looking for someone. When he didn’t find him (or her), he hid under our bed for two days, refusing to eat.

Finally, on the second night, my husband pulled him from under the bed and forced him to sit on his lap while he watched tv and petted him. After that, we couldn’t keep Berkeley off the couch.

He continued to look for his previous owners, though. An escape artist, Berkeley got away from Arina once, me once, and out of the fence a couple of times. Each time he ran from house to house, pawing at a door begging to be let in, or simply going through an open door if he found one. My neighbor across the street had left his door ajar. He said that he went back inside to sit down at his computer, when he noticed Berkeley, stretched out on the floor by his computer desk. Another time, Berkeley was waiting for us on the front porch after we came back from shopping. Neighbors walked by and said he spent at least an hour at their house before asking to be let out to wait for us.

For some reason I expected Chester B. to be like Chester, the First. A shelter dog from the beginning, Chester had thought that everything we offered up to him was amazing, including the different brand of dog food we had. Berkeley knew the difference between dog food and people food and was a picky eater. He only wanted to eat chicken, and not chicken flavored dog food. He wanted the real thing.

Unlike Chester, Berkeley was also house-trained. — here. Of course, when he met his first two prospective adoptive families, he immediately pooped on their floors, turning them off immediately, no doubt. I think that he knew who his people were and deliberately sabotaged every other meeting until he found them.

And find them he did. He had charmed his beautiful adoptive mother, Federica, from the start. She saw his handsome photo on facebook and was in love.

His adoptive father, Chris, was a harder sell, as the following photos show.

Chris and Federica kindly agreed to Chester. B.-sit for us while we went out of town for the weekend. This is the first photo of Chester B. and Chris, which Federica aptly titled, “Wife! This dog cannot stay!” He was sitting down in his chair, saying those words, when Chester B. jumped into his lap and started grinning.

And here’s the next photo, which I like to think is the visual representation of Chris’s resolve melting.

Chester B. smiles all the time now. He loves walks more than anything, and he has an adoptive father to take him whenever he wants. He loves spaghetti more than anything, and he has an adoptive mother who is Italian and who makes the best spaghetti in town. Add to that a feline and a canine sibling, and life couldn’t be better. One of my favorite photos of him is after his first spaghetti dinner. Federica’s caption reads, “Suddenly, after my first taste of parmigiano cheese, the world seems to smile at me . . .”

It does indeed, Chester B. And you deserve it.

Adopted by: Federica Clementi and Chris Holcomb

Renamed: Chester Bark

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