Chester Gilbert

Pulled: Monday June 20, 2011 from Sandy Crest Kennels/Middle Mutts

Adoption commitment: Tuesday June 21, 2011

Scott left on Saturday for Shelby, NC, to lead a team of teenagers who would be helping a low-income family repair their house. Unbeknownst to him, I left for Chesterfield on Monday to pull our seventh foster, Chester Gilbert. I swung by McBee to pick up my mother, because I figured I’d need her help. Whitney had warned me that it would be difficult (she actually told me I should bring a rotisserie chicken with me, and I sort of wish I had taken that advice).

We got to Sandy Crest Kennels, a temporary haven for dogs pulled from High Kill Shelters, and we met Laurie, who expressed doubt as to how this pull was going to go. She had tried to give both dogs pills to sedate them, but when we went back to their kennel, we saw that the pills were still wedged in the pieces of hot dogs she’d thrown in to them. — neither hot dog nor pill was touched.

I had told Whitney that I would get both if I could, but she said that one at a time might be better. The pair seemed to feed off each other’s anxiety. The larger of the two had backed up in a corner and was snarling and snapping at us. The smaller of the two was hiding underneath a cot and growling.

Laurie managed to get the larger one to go out of a door, to an outside fence, so I went outside to try to calm him. Whitney said that she had had more success with the larger of the two. She took photos of them both to send to rescues, although she had initially been too intimidated to approach them. Then, she said to herself, “Whitney, what’s wrong with you? You deal with pit bulls. These are MINIATURE POODLES.” When she got down on the floor, in front of the bigger one, she said that he was friendly to her. I plopped down in front of him on the floor, but he continued to snarl and snap. I had already sent Mom out to the car.

I thought, “Today is the day I’m going to get bitten.” I knew that it would happen eventually, but I thought I’d start slowly. If it had to happen, I wanted to be bitten by the smaller of the two. So, I went to see Laurie, and she let me borrow her elbow-length gloves. She explained that I’d still be able to feel the bite — that it would be like a pinch — but that it shouldn’t break the skin. Three bites later, I was holding Gilbert, speaking softly to him and bouncing him gently, like I used to do with Jack when he was upset.

He was calm. Laurie was able to slip off my gloves. Mom got out of the car and tried to help but nearly lost her hand in the process. She agreed to drive, instead, and I rode passenger side, with Gilbert in my lap.

Mom went through the drive-through at Wendy’s. I wanted her to get fries for Gilbert, because after watching the documentary trailer for Eating Mercifully (, I had decided that I’d only buy/eat meat if I knew that the animals were raised humanely. I started expostulating on the horrors of factory farming, when Mom cut in and said, “I’m paying, and I’m getting the dog chicken nuggets. This is an emergency.” Ah, well.

I do think Gilbert liked her better after that, although I’ve since discovered that he’s a fan of fries as well.

By the end of the drive to Mom’s house, Gilbert was letting me pet him. Once out of the car, though, he went and hid underneath it. And growled and snapped if I tried to pull him out. Finally, Mom moved the car, while I watched Gilbert and motioned for her to do so.

After a much needed bath and haircut, though, he was like a lamb. He has been following me around, begging to cuddle with me ever since. To start with, I thought Mom would adopt him, since pulling him with me was such a good bonding experience for us. But, alas, Dad says “We have enough dogs.”

So, Gilbert is meeting his wonderful adoptive mother, Peggy, tomorrow. Peggy has worked with dogs for years. She trained seeing eye dogs for the blind, she has fostered for Lowcountry Lab Rescue, and she now wants a couple of lap dogs who will sleep in her bed with her. I told her that Gilbert and Hampton are her men.

Note: Gilbert did NOT look as good as he does in the photo, above, after my haircut. That is, instead, the work of Sarah and Susie’s Grooming on Forest. And, work it was to correct this:

Sarah and Susie were amazing. And after hearing Gilbert’s sad shelter dog story, they wouldn’t even charge me. Poor Gilbert had been a trooper that day. He had been vetted and had been in the car with me and the kids for 6+ hours while I rode around, trying to find someone to do an emergency grooming for a reasonable price. I think Sarah and Susie’s was the seventh or eighth place we stopped. And clearly the best.

Adopted by: Peggy Sudol

Renamed: Cooper, his Middle Mutts name

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