Who knew needy could be so good?

When we adopted a dog from the Jackson County Animal Shelter, I had no idea I’d spend every day hunting for my missing slipper or my pajamas.

Though I have never found them mangled or torn, I do find them in various places: the bed, underneath the table, peaking out of a favored chair cushion.

Like most dogs, Tarquin doesn’t like to be separated from his family. And, like most dogs, he’s developed his very own coping mechanism. Whenever we leave, Tarquin soothes himself by snuggling up with an item of our clothing — a sort of teddy bear stand-in that keeps out a dog’s worst nightmare — his owners’ disappearance.

Tarquin was surrendered to the shelter because his previous family deemed him too needy. And he is needy. He needs to be loved, he needs to lean on you, and all 100 pounds of him needs to sleep on our very crowded bed. He needs to stretch his graceful, long legs on our daily hikes, he needs to throw a celebration every time we walk through the door, and he desperately needs to chase the squirrels and deer from our yard (a matter of contention that has yet to be resolved).

Tarquin has a strange but persistent need to nudge our chronic late sleeper to a gentle awakening on school mornings, to listen intently to our daughter as she tackles the difficult task of reading increasingly complex books aloud, and to push my laptop — and my stress — away with a soft, warm nuzzle.

I don’t suppose Tarquin really feels the need to be there when we face loss and disappointment, or when one of us is feeling sick and down. But he is. Every time.

Upon reflection, I guess it is true. He is needy, just like all of the animals at the shelter. And at the core of that need is the desire to connect, to love, to make a difference to someone who is standing on the other side of the kennel door — a special person or family who appears to have unmet needs of their own.

If you're looking for a new family member, you might visit the Jackson County Animal Shelter, 5595 S. Pacific Highway in Phoenix. You can also view adoptable animals online at www.fotas.org.

Sherrie Bolin lives in Ashland.

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