Pet ownership is this whole deal, wrapped up in minor and major decisions that are simple and complicated and everything in between, and somewhere in New York City there is a person who decided that when this special-needs dog became “too big” at the age of one, they would be better off without her.
No matter that Lexie literally couldn’t stand on her own feet, or that her family felt the best place for her was one of New York’s notorious high-kill shelters. And no one knows what Lexie thought about that first night in the kennel, three paws on the cold floor while her family, with whatever degree of difficulty, put their decision behind them.
Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes that luck runs out. For Lexie, a dog with a deformed and useless front leg that made it impossible for her to sit, it was the other way around, and right away she melted the heart of Harriet Zucker at Red Hook Dog Rescue. Red Hook pulled her; surgery removed the leg and now, where there are supposed to be four legs, there are three. And that’s just fine. Two days after her surgery, Lexie sat for the first time.
You’d think she’d be down on the world but for Lexie, there is much to be happy about, much to love in the limited world of this Pennsylvania kennel where she is boarded, and where few people come to see her.
She’s a clumsy, big-headed fruitcake. Rollicking and rambunctious, she gets excited to be out of her kennel and is snuffling around with her big head buried in the lobby couch. She is every bit as capable of running, walking, sitting, as a four-legged dog, an once outside, she loves to explore. Her three legs sometimes propel her farther and faster than she can handle, and she tumbles a little. She picks herself up and gives me the big mastiff smile, as if we’re both in agreement that everything about her is in superb working order.
She’s a puller on the leash but soon she settles down to normal throttle on a day that hasn’t yet become unbearably hot (but will), and in a quieter moment I look at her and think, is there a place in this big wide world for someone like Lexie, an unwanted, homeless dog that loves the world and all it contains? A lopsided girl in a world that treasures perfection?
Lexie, of course, would say “yes” — “yes” because it’s the only answer for a dog that knows that it’s not misery that wants company — it’s happiness. Her joyfulness is meant to rub off on whomever she’s with and loves, and she loves the world.
There is nothing as hopeful as believing that someone out there is thinking of adopting a three-legged dog in boarding, and I have to believe she will find a home, be someone’s welcome home every day, someone’s couch-snuffler. In my head I almost have a picture of the guy (I believe some would call him a “dude”) who will eventually fall in love with this girl and drive her, both cheering, across the Pennsylvania countryside toward her new home and life with him. He wears nice warm plaid shirts in the fall. He likes jazz. He wants to like fly-fishing, but he’s not there yet. More than anything, he loves his dog Lexie, and the way she embraces every day with the same can-do attitude that he’s adopted for himself.
Lexie and The Dude are go-getters.
When you meet Lexie, she will come bursting out of whatever door she’s behind to say hello. I want her to know that she’d “show” better if she’d calm down a little on entry but, there you go. Lexie, as I say, loves the world.
But just let her have at it for a few minutes on the leash, and she settles down. Just be a little patient with her in the first five or ten minutes. After that, you’ll see that the only thing dangerous about this big mastiff mix is the off-chance that her big boulder head will clunk into yours.
Lexie is in boarding in Frederick, Pennsylvania (not far from Philly, and a gorgeous ride through the PA countryside — if you’re going, give yourself time to stop for ice cream or fresh fruit at one of the stands.) Contact Red Hook Dog Rescue on their Facebook page, or email email@example.com for more information.
Suzy Allman is a professional sports photographer for The New York Times and Sports Illustrated; she is also the founder of CharlieDog and Friends, a plush toy company that makes soft stuffed animal dogs and cats based on real-life rescues.