By Dan Moffett
I first saw Lilly advertised on the nearby local Humane Society website as a1 year old Lab Mix, stray, no ID or chip, and no owner coming forth. I had been following the site quite closely, looking for a retriever type dog as a family pet. From the photograph and coloring, I could not tell exactly what type of Lab mix she might be. I was at the Humane Society early the next morning and very curious to meet her. Well of course, she wasn’t an oddly colored Lab! Overnight she had been reclassified as a Chessie! I was in love right away. She was the right size, right age, a beautiful sedge color, with classic Chessie eyes and she had that something extra special. I went home to confer with the family and plan. We all agreed, so I went back that very afternoon to adopt her. I went straight to the kennel for another quick look and . . . she was gone! Maybe she had been moved? I found out that she had been claimed a few hours prior by the Prison Pet Partnership Training Program to be evaluated as a Service Dog. I was deeply disappointed.
The Adoption Coordinator told me that Lilly matched all of the characteristics and behaviors of a Chesapeake. I told her how much I had really wanted this dog and what could I do? Well, many dogs evaluated for Service Dog training do not continue. I told her that I definitely wanted Lilly. She promised to call me if Lilly was returned for any reason. I went home, still disappointed, and had to tell the family. I couldn’t get Lilly out of my head. I stopped looking for other dogs.
Three days passed and we were out of town about 3 hours away. The Adoption Coordinator called to tell us that Lilly had flunked out of Service Dog training and did we still want her? No question – we still wanted her! Can we pick her up the next day! Woo Hoo!
You might wonder how a stray dog like Lilly got her name? On the return trip we tried out different names. Many were too short, too long, too fancy, too plain, too unusual, too cute, or the same as female friends or relatives (or their dogs). After 150 miles we settled on Lilly. “Lilly” can be spoken softly, excitedly, with great emotion, sarcastically, or even accusingly – depending on the need. With us, Lilly also earned nicknames of Water Lilly and Tiger Lilly.
The next day we adopted her. In the beginning, Lilly was not about to adopt us. Lilly had all the signs of a rescue dog. It started by her not even wanting to get into the car to leave (but how would you feel about going with another set of strangers to strange place #5 in 7 days?). We gave her all the space she needed. And Lilly really responded, soon claiming us as her own. Lilly was a Chessie smiler, a Rooer, a treat gobbler, and with energy forever! After we introduced her to the lake, we could not keep Lilly out of the water! Lilly ran the dock at full speed and launched into the lake after the ball. We thought that Lilly failed as a Service Dog because she likely would have abandoned the person to chase a ball. We always told Lilly that we all had won the lottery – and she agreed!
We were bonded together for 11 years. Lilly was a 4-legged member of our family and we were her people. Even though we had had previous long-term relationships with Shadow the GSD and Max the Lab, Lilly was the very best and spoiled us for any other type of dog. We were together until the very end.
Lilly inspired us to use CBRR&R and we recently adopted Nellie. But that is another story.