I mentioned Veronica to Melillo of Motley Mutts, and the next weekend we met at the ACC, along with my husband (boyfriend at the time) and our 4-year-old basenji-boxer mix, Norman.
"That's a lot of woman for you, Norman," my husband joked as Veronica was brought out to the sidewalk, lunging at her leash, her chewed-gum nipples hanging to her knees. She was underweight but strong and bullheaded.
Although shelter notes said she had just given birth to puppies six to eight weeks before her intake - her last of several litters at barely 3 years old - she hadn't yet been spayed and was going into heat again (the ACC doesn't spay and neuter dogs until they are adopted). She got so excited when she was near Norman that we couldn't let them interact.
Because of her sweet disposition, Veronica had been used as a "helper" at the shelter for evaluating the behavior of other dogs - essentially placed in a room with untested dogs to see how they would react - and volunteers said the experience had been unsettling. But she was still so wiggly and goofy and sweet, full of kisses for anyone who would take them. Her tail wagged hard enough to leave bruises on my shins.
She was a lot to consider. I told Melillo we would need to think about it and would call her in the morning.
We still didn't know how Veronica would get along with Norman, and we had no idea what she'd think of our cat. That night, I thought about everything that could go wrong, and I thought about the ACC van that had pulled up to the shelter as we were leaving and unloaded several emaciated pit bulls.
The unknowns weren't going away. And that gorgeous dog was still waiting in the crowded, noisy shelter.
"We want her," we told Melillo over the phone that summery Sunday morning.
Three months later, we called to tell her the same thing, but for good: We had failed hard at fostering her.