We got Buster from the Monterey Animal Shelter in July of 2001. Actually, I got him. Carrie and the kids were still vacationing in Seattle and I was staying in a hotel in Marina until our military housing came available.

I decided I wanted a dog and after a few visits to "window shop" at the pound, I found Buster. Carrie was none too happy about it but she has since warmed up to him.

This is how we came to own Buster:

I went to the shelter and looked at every kennel. Among the mangy looking varieties cooped up inside, I took pause at a small golden dog. He was the perfect size and a couple of things caught my eye. First, he was the only one in that place who looked like he didnít belong. He looked too cute and healthy. He was housed with a puppy smaller than him; a St. Bernard, I think. That puppy was all over him and Buster just sat there and let the dog maul him playfully. I thought it was a good sign that the dog was so gentle and patient.

I asked to see him and they told me that he had been brought in three days prior and they are supposed to wait 4 days before they let anyone adopt him. But they made an exception and let me see him. I took him out in the play area and spent about a half hour with him. He was the perfect dog; the one I had in my mindís eye when I considered getting a dog.

When I brought him back in, I told the pound I would be back the next day. I kept my promise and came back, eager to see Buster again. Luckily, no one had claimed him and I decided to take him. The adoption only cost $11 but they require the new owner to pay for the neutering. They would not be able to get him in to the vet until the next Tuesday and then you were expected to pick him up.

The problem was that I did not have the house until Friday and Carrie was coming in on Wednesday. I talked to the pound and they reluctantly agreed to house him for a couple of days if I picked him up and brought him back. They were afraid he would get the kennel cough but wanted to find a home for him.

So I picked him up and bought the cone for his head so he couldnít mess with the stitches. I could not bring myself to take him back to the pound so I took him to the house that I didnít have any keys for. I had spent $200 on supplies and had them stored there. So I spent the rest of the afternoon there and made sure he had food and water. He was such a pitiful sight with the cone around his head, tied to the water spicket in the back yard.

I got up early the next morning and went to see him before school. I stayed as long as I could and it broke my heart to leave him again. But I had to get to school and right afterward, I hurried back. He had either bitten through or pulled off the leash I tied him to and he was running free in the backyard. So I took it back to PetSmart and told them that it broke. They replaced it and I bought a more sturdy, metal leach to tie him up with. It still broke my heart to leave him but I had to get back to the hotel room to meet Carrie and the kids who were coming in. We had not told the kids so it was going to be a big surprise.

We went straight over to the new house when Carrie and the kids got in town and I told them I had a surprise for them. We went in the back yard and Buster came lumbering toward them. I claimed that the previous owners had left their dog but they asked if it was for real. I finally admitted that it was our dog and they almost lost their minds. It was a great scene.

We had to leave him there one more night because we did not get the keys until the next day. When we did, he was our house dog from that day on.

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