Last week, I went for a trim at my hair stylist’s salon, Stephen’s. This was to ensure that I looked updated and preppy for my travels to our Illinois Great Rivers’ Annual Conference, which I attended last week.
While lounging on Stephen’s comfy couches, waiting for my turn, I grabbed up as many women’s magazines as possible to catch up on the latest. This is my favorite part of being back in the States: sitting in waiting rooms (most recently the doctor’s and dentist’s office for my annual check-ups) and eagerly pawing through all the old and new magazines left to keep the clients busy.
In Stephen’s hair salon, celebrity gossip, weight loss trends, tasty dessert recipes, health care tips and touching human interest articles greeted me in abundance.
Then came Dog Fancy, a favorite magazine known among canine lovers, loaded with doggie photos and features on training tips, homemade food treats, nutrition and moving animal stories.
But it was one small column on the inside cover that caught my eye.
It read as follows: “Me & My Rescue Dog Contest Is your rescue dog super special? Tell us about your bond! Send us a photo of you and your dog, plus a short paragraph about what makes your rescued dog extraordinary, for a chance to win great prizes and be featured in our October 2013 issue.”
The contest rules stipulated that entrants were to write 200 or less words to describe their rescued pet. All entries had to be received, by mail or email, by June 5, which was the next day.
A Rescue Story to Beat All
“Ah-ha!” I thought. “I have the perfect candidate. Our little Chinese immigrant, Xiao Lao-lao.”
Immediately, I ripped out the column to take home with me, all the while thinking of what I could say to grab the judges’ attention and select us as one of the lucky winners.
Here’s what I came up with.
Our 200-word Entry
I am an English teacher in China. During a weekend visit to Sichuan’s capital city, Chengdu, I found a bony, starving Chihuahua wandering outside Sichuan University’s west gate. When he rolled over for a belly rub, I saw he had no lower jaw. Instead, a shriveled, still-healing flap of skin took its place. He also had no upper teeth, which my vet later attributed to gum disease.
How this little dog had survived such a debilitating injury was beyond me but his plucky spirit and determination to live were quite apparent. In a split second, Xiao Lao-lao (小老老, Little Old-old) was in my arms for rescuing.
Lao-lao eventually returned with me to America. He is now our small town’s celebrity canine immigrant. He attends summer city band concerts, participates in animal rescue fundraising events, enjoys being beautified at the groomers, and is greeted by all during his daily walks. His journey to America is now in the form of a children’s book which I hope to publish. Proceeds will go toward our local animal shelter. He is a remarkable little dog, warmly embraced by his American community as one of its own.
The Photo: Egads!
I have loads of cute, adorable and hilarious photos of Lao-lao in America which I would have loved to submit.
However, according to the contest instructions, a picture of the two of us together was needed.
“Not a problem!” I was thinking. After all, with two photogenic individuals, not to mention my hair having just been tidied up, how could it go wrong?
Well, getting that photo was a lot harder than I thought.
With the next day being the deadline, I was hard-pressed after returning from my hair appointment to get something halfway decent using my digital camera.
I quickly put on my make-up, snatched up a sleeping Lao-lao from his afternoon blanket, and enlisted my mom for help in this venture.
Now, one thing you have to know about my mother: She desperately loathes having pictures taken or bothering to take them. However, seeing my great enthusiasm to enter this contest, she reluctantly volunteered to be the photographer. Despite her initial willingness to do this, under my critical supervision, she quickly became fed up with my constant complaints after reviewing every snapshot.
“No, we’re too far away. Get up closer.”
“That won’t do. Lao-lao isn’t in focus!”
“I don’t care for this background. Let’s move to another location.”
“The dog looks good but I’m not looking at the camera. Try again.”
My mother’s frowns, eye rolls, exhasperated sighs and impatient mutterings eventually took its toll on both of us.
I gave up.
The dog, too, was getting a bit perturbed. After being hauled around and maneuvered into various uncomfortable positions, his ears went back and his attitude changed from being semi-tolerant to ornery non-cooperative.
In the end, I had to settle for what our 30-minute sittings yielded, along with past photos of the two of us, and choose the best of the bunch.
Here’s the one my mom and I chose as the winning visual for our Me & My Rescue entry.
Wish us luck!
From Marshall, Illinois, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day.