My daughter found a neglected 6 pound scrap of elderly Pomeranian wandering outside our neighborhood in the dead of night. He was not appealing: his collar had to be cut out of (color indeterminate) matted dreadlocks, his toenails were so long they looked like curling Indian slippers, and something was VERY wrong with his hind legs so that he listed and bobbled like a sailor under the influence.
     I was smitten. Utterly lost. The Hubby too, though he made gruff manly noises about it.
    We did the right thing and after a disruptive night (with our other dogs freaking out) we took him to the Humane Society. The first thing they did was shave him so he looked like a concentration camp victim, leaving a bit of fluff around his head like a tiny lion, or perhaps a hermit crab unfortunately removed from its shell. He was examined, medicated, neutered and doctored, and after a week (during which the neglectful owners never called) they pronounced him read to adopt.
    That’s how we got a third dog. Yes, I know, I need my head examined, and me a shrink.
    I had to sign a hefty waiver that acknowledged I knew he had a heart condition (due to unkept teeth that had rotted and affected his heart), was missing a half-dozen aforementioned teeth, and had, due to inbreeding, spontaneously collapsing knees.
   “Spontaneous what?” I asked.
   “Spontaneously dislocating knees. Because of inbreeding, this type of dog often develops them. There is no cure.” The vet looked worried I was going to renege on my adoption after the litany of problems and produced the waiver. “You have been informed.”
    I signed. I brought home my new project, and named him Pono, which means “do the right thing” and also Pono is Lei’s trusty partner in my novels, a two-fer. (I love two-fers, and I’ll have to blog about that sometime.)
Why did I do such a ridiculous thing, with the hours I work and two other dogs? Because. Just because. Maybe I’m atoning for something- people who would breed a dog until it’s nearly unable to survive to get “desirable” traits. Atoning for people who would spend money on a dog like this and then neglect it to within an inch of its life.
    Mostly, though, I adopted him because he grabbed onto my heart with his tiny, mostly missing teeth and wouldn’t let go. Because in spite of his handicaps, he frolics with joy until he falls over from his collapsible joints. His fragile heart is brave, and he sits calmly on my lap for hours while I write, wheezing in utter happiness to be there. He’s the perverted result of man’s manipulations, and utterly, totally, gruesomely adorable.
    Now that the kids have grown up and left, the “empty nest” has been filled with ankle snappers. Be warned, it could happen to you.

  Toby Neal is the author of Blood Orchids, a fast-paced crime mystery. Learn more about Toby and her writing on her blog.