On the morning of Saturday, September 10th, I saw this post on my Facebook feed:
Gaye Steinman LeBoutillier checked into PetSmart, Arlington, TX.
Her status read:
That afternoon, she posted:
Seven adopted. Three left.
And then only a few minutes later:
Only Anakin and the chocolate Chihuahua are left. Eight adoptions! I went home. My feet are killing me.
I thought: “Anakin and the Chocolate Chihuahua?” Sounds like the title of a movie—a cross between Stars Wars and Willy Wonka, produced by the Humane Society and directed by Scooby Doo. This has got some real potential.
Gaye is a fellow volunteer of mine at DFW Pug Rescue Club of Texas. I was convinced there was a great story here, so a few days later I e-mailed her, asking her if she was willing to be the subject of a blog post. She agreed with the eagerness and grace that is characteristic of everything she does.
From her Facebook posts, I knew that Gaye had activities other than Pug Rescue on her plate, and her posts about Anakin and the Chocolate Chihuahua had piqued my interest. So, I asked her to fill me in. I couldn’t have been more pleased with her response:
I volunteer with the City of Arlington Animal Services, primarily assisting with the offsite dog adoption events we hold twice a month at the PetSmart in the Arlington Highlands. At the close of business on Friday, the shelter staff selects which dogs will be sent to the adoption event. A staff member e-mails the list to our Pampered Pups coordinator, Rachael. Pampered Pups is a small group of volunteers who meet at the shelter at 8:30 AM on adoption event day, pull the selected dogs from their kennels, clean them up, put harnesses, leashes and bandanas on them, and load them into the adoption truck, which leaves the shelter at about 10 AM.
I am the liaison person who follows the truck to PetSmart and meets the second shift of volunteers who actually work the adoption. We all set up for the event, and as the kennel cards are placed on the windows, I mark the names on them. I impart to the other volunteers anything special we might know about any individual dog, and if there is a special price applicable to any or all dogs on that day. I usually stay until about noon. The adoption truck stays in the PetSmart parking lot until 3:30 PM, or until all the dogs on the truck have been adopted, whichever comes first.
On September 10, we had a tan Chihuahua named Chico, twin brown and
white pit bull puppies named Selena and Samantha, an eight-month-old black and white pit named Cookie, a sweet shepherd mix named Elkie who is heartworm positive, a Chihuahua with coloring that looked like a miniature German shepherd, a little scruffy terrier, and Nimo and Anakin.
I know little about Anakin. His records indicate he was originally a stray, found in the 360/I-20 area on 7/26.
He was adopted, named Anakin, and returned to the shelter on 8/30. I believe the reason was “unrealistic expectations.” He is, after all, a boisterous, four-month-old puppy. He is full of energy (and kisses) and needs some direction and training. He
was adopted at the end of Saturday’s event, and as of yesterday, he had not been returned to the shelter.
Nimo, the chocolate Chihuahua, was found as a stray on East Abram Street, here in Arlington. Shelter staff estimated his age as about two. He is a sweet little Chihuahua, and not much of a barker. He, too, found a home Saturday.
The only dog returned to the shelter from Saturday’s event was Elkie, who was super-urgent for time in the shelter and heartworm positive. Sponsor Adoptions, Inc., a rescue support group here in Arlington, has fully underwritten Elkie’s heartworm treatment. I am told, however, that Elkie was returned because she doesn’t like small dogs. She is just over a year old, a lovely dog, and will make a great family dog. People are moving heaven and earth to find her a home.
Elkie is still available for adoption. You can visit http://www.arlington-tx.gov/animals/adoptable-pets/ to see Elkie and all the other pets at Arlington Animal Services.
As for Gaye herself, she writes:
I was born and raised in Philadelphia and its suburbs. I attended Quaker schools and then graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1964. I had the typical pets, growing up—cats, goldfish, a canary, a little brown mutt named Holly, and a purebred Scottie named Glengarry MacGeorge.
Peter and I married in 1967 in Philadelphia, then moved to Maine, where we lived for 14 years, and where our children were born. We have two daughters, Amy and Christine, both of whom still reside in the DFW Metroplex. Peter was also an animal lover, and we raised many pets along with our children. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits. Peter died in January, 2002.
I have an associate’s degree from Wesley College, Dover, Delaware, and a paralegal certificate from the University of Texas at Arlington. We moved to Arlington in 1981, and I’ve lived in the same house for 35 years. I’m retired from 30 years in the insurance business. My former boss thought I’d be bored in retirement. (Insert laughs here.)
In 1989, I declared that when our Golden Retriever passed on, we would have no more dogs! But—Edgar Allen Pug entered our family on April 15, 1989. I remember that because it was our youngest child’s senior year in high school and it was income tax day. Our refund that year was $349, and Edgar Allen Pug’s price tag was $350.
Gaye went on to describe the adoption of Edgar Allen Pug with a degree of detail that other dyed-in-the-wool pet lovers will appreciate.
It was a Saturday. Our company was planning a convention, and I was working overtime. I worked nearly a full day. Christine and her Dad had gone
to a family-owned pet supply store to buy guinea pig chow. The store had taken a litter of pug puppies in on consignment. Christine picked one up. She held him. Daddy held him. Daddy presented his credit card. I came home from work to find a ten-week-old pug puppy on the living room floor. The child went on to college, and Edgar Allen Pug bonded to my husband. We later adopted a “free to a good home” female (Priscilla Ann Pug) as a companion for Edgar. And so the dynasty began here.
Just like me, adopting a pug (or two) led Gaye to DFW Pug Rescue Club:
I was looking to adopt another pug and met Karen Babcock, who was a trainer at PetSmart. She led me to DFW Pug Rescue. We adopted Moe Jackson Pug on September 11, 2001. A total of eight pugs have owned me, and I don’t think I’ve missed a Pug-o-ween since 2001. I don’t remember how many pugs I’ve fostered, maybe ten, but that’s not many compared to some of our other volunteers. I pull pugs from the Arlington and Grand Prairie shelters (and once from Euless) and transport them to the clinics. And I do the occasional home visit.
She currently has two pugs, Jabaar and Snafu, but dogs are not the only beneficiaries of Gaye’s love and largesse:
Two Siamese cats also call me “Mom.” They are both rescues. Dylan Thomcat is from Buddies Place Cat Rescue, and Millicent is from the Arlington animal shelter.
And if all that weren’t enough, Gaye has plenty of other volunteer work to occupy her “retirement:”
I am an HEB ISD volunteer at Viridian Elementary School, which is actually located within Arlington city limits. My daughter, Amy, is a kindergarten teacher, and I make things for her classroom, help her set up and tear down her room in August and May. I also help the office staff and the librarian, making copies, stuffing folders, helping with the book fair, and whatever else they need.
Last but not least on the volunteer subject, I have been a member of the Chamber Choir at St. Alban’s Parish (Anglican) since May, 1982. I sing soprano, and have asked our director to fire me when my voice starts to sound awful! As a business major, not a music major, I had little training, but wanted to make a joyful noise. I have learned so much, and the experience has been so rewarding!
Hobbies? My pets, of course. Food has always interested me, and I like to cook and try new things. I do not eat mammals for ethical and health reasons. I also sew and make crafty things. I made my kids’ clothes when they were little, and I took in alterations for a while. Old-age vision has made fine work difficult, and I’m not as good at it as I used to be.
So, now you know more about me than most people do.
We all do, Gaye!
Shortly after Gaye e-mailed her story, I received another message from her. The subject line said: BAD GRANDMA. The message read:
How could I forget my grandkids? I have four, two girls and two boys. Ian is a sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State; Courtney is a sophomore at Arkansas. Gillian is a ninth-grader at McKinney High School, and Rowan is a seventh-grader at Bedford Junior High.
And that my, friends is the portrait and profile of a dedicated volunteer, and a warm and wonderful human being!