October 2, 2014 The New Drug: K-9
Babies and puppies, could you imagine anything cuter? One thing that babies and puppies have in common is the instant joy they bring. It’s contagious! Can you picture it? Coming home from a long day at work to your dog’s excitement, equivalent to a celebrity spotting, and giving you one big, wet lick on your cheek? It's hard to imagine a better instant mood-booster.
Picture yourself walking into a room full of people who love you. Now, imagine walking into a room full of cuddly, loveable puppies. Imagine the gleaming smile on your face. I was already smiling ear-to-ear getting into my car, knowing my destination would be puppies! Following my GPS, I finally got to the animal shelter in mind, the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA. Located on a mini-highway, as I like to call it, it’s not in a very convenient spot. The building is up somewhat of a hill, directly after a traffic light. Needless to say, if you pass it, it will take about another 10 minutes to get back to where you first came from.
I finally pull in and park at the animal shelter. The building is some-what commercial-like. A sign directed towards Highland Ave reads “Northeast Animal Shelter” in big green lettering. On top of the word “Shelter” the creatively put a makeshift roof where a cat sits. Beside the word “Shelter”, there is a dog, facing the cat. To me, this symbolizes equality and serenity. Two opposites can remain calm “under the same roof”. Walking towards the entrance, I whisper to myself “this doesn’t like a shelter.” There is a multi-colored stone pathway leading to a two-door entrance. On either side of the doors are two big. picture windows. The shelter itself is a neutral orange shade with a large amount of windows, dispersed throughout the inside and outside. The long, narrow parking lot is also parallel to the building, where only my car sits.
The image of the excitement, the unstoppable tails that wag and the smile on my face vanished from my mind. I suddenly had an eerie feeling in my bones. I was honestly scared. I didn’t what to think. I’ve only truly seen puppies at pet stores in the mall. All those animals were cute and fuzzy. “What if some are like bald?” I regretfully thought.
As I walked into the shelter for the first time, it was not at all what I was expecting. I was picturing the walls to be made out of cracked, grey cement, the older women to be mean and butch-like and the animals to be chained and mistreated. My misconception must’ve came from the infamous animal cruelty commercials where Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” is played over a stream of pictures of abused dogs and cats (she supports the BC SPCA End Animal Cruelty campaign).
As soon as I walked through the first set of doors, there are windows. In the windows are rooms to the adoptable cats. I’ve never been a fan of cats so this sighting made my stomach churn a little bit more. Opening the second set of doors was a whole different world. The ceilings were huge, the light in the place was beaming (quite literally) and the were dog toys all over the walls.
“Woah”, I thought, “this place is awesome.” There were mini cheetah beds for the chihuahua’s, massive, water resistant, beds for the droolers and pink beds for the princesses of the family. It seems pretty normal to me so far. I’ve galloped through animal toys at pet stores dozens of times. I’ve dragged my parents into every freestanding pet store in the north shore since I was in middle school. It was also convenient to beg for a puppy while passing one in the mall.
I unhinged my mind from the dog beds and approached the well manicured receptionist, awestruck by her poise, and asked to speak with a supervisor. She gracefully showed me to Jenna, the Adoption Counselor's, office. Jenna was a slender young women with stick straight hair. Behind her glasses showed no make up, only green eyes. She seemed eager but shy.