As I’m writing this at my dining room table, Chamonix, a two-year-old chocolate lab/pit bull mix is snoring at my feet. It’s Sunday morning, and yesterday afternoon I borrowed her for the night at Nuzzles & Co’s adoption center in the Tanger Outlet Center.

Unlike some shelters that barely let you near their dogs, Nuzzles encourages people to stop by and help them socialize their dogs. Th is added interaction increases the likelihood of a successful adoption. Last night, I walked in just before five p.m. and simply asked the staff, “Who needs a place to sleep tonight?”

They suggested Chami, who recently gave birth to puppies that had already been adopted. I’d seen Chami on several recent visits, and she always seemed withdrawn and depressed; she just sat in bed and ignored visitors. But at home, she was a completely different dog. She climbed onto my lap when I sat on the floor and followed me everywhere.

At night, I put her in her crate—Nuzzles loaned me a crate, leash, and food for the morning—and she went right to sleep. In the morning, Chami was delighted to see me. I fed her, and then we went for a long hike.

Last summer, my son and I twice took Tuffy, an eight-year-old red heeler, home for the night. The first time, the staff was slightly stunned; no one had ever asked to borrow Tuffy, who had been at the center for about a year.

 

By Bruce Kasanoff