How a once-unwanted Iron Man became our beloved dog, Cody


Marian Borg with her daughters, Emma Rose, left, and Claire, and her husband, Michael Barbarette, and their adopted Paws on Parole dog, Cody. (Provided Photo)

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.

“Home at Last: Tales of Rescue” is Gainesville Magazine's new feature profiling the success stories of families and their rescue pets.

Facts

3 TIPS ON CHOOSING A FAMILY PET: YOUR VISIT TO THE SHELTER

1. Identify Your Ideal Match: Some breeds are more active than others. Some are content to sit on the couch all day while others need plenty of exercise.
2. Ask The Staff: There's a good chance the shelter's staff will have spent significant time with each animal in their care.
3. Avoid Rushing Your Decision: Come back the following day and make your decision. There's no need to rush.

Facts

Pet adoption

For more information on adopting a dog through Paws on Parole or the Alachua County Animal Services, please contact Hilary Hynes at 352-264-6881 or 352-213-1241 or heh@alachuacounty.us

A day that had begun with great excitement and anticipation was ending with disappointment and frustration. After finally convincing their father and me that our family was ready for a dog, our daughters, Emma Rose, 12, and Claire, 8, had spent weeks preparing profiles of various dogs and dog breeds they thought would be the perfect match for our family. Not too big, but not too small; a non-shedder (for Mom); potty-trained (for Dad).

We had started out that Saturday morning with my two nieces, Annie and Kelsey, sure that all the research would pay off and that we would be returning with a new member of the family. But after making the rounds of every animal shelter in Gainesville, we had come up empty. As we left the Alachua County Animal Services, Annie noticed a poster in the lobby. We stopped to look at six happy, but just-a-little-bit-sad, faces that made up the 21st class of Paws on Parole……the Avengrrrs: Captain America, Nick Fury, Pepper Pots, Bruce Banner, Thor and the Iron Man. Captain America, a Havanese (think Shih Tzu), immediately caught our attention: small, cute and cuddly.

The dogs, we learned, were being trained by inmates at the local prison work camp, but would be available the following week for a “meet-and-greet.” We rushed home, filled out the online application, and waited (impatiently) for Saturday.

In the meantime, my husband, Michael, contacted Hilary Hynes, director of Paws on Parole, to make a pre-emptive pitch for the Captain. We were a little disappointed that Hilary's immediate reaction was less than encouraging. Despite his persuasive efforts, Michael was getting the distinct impression that Hilary was skeptical about our family's “fit” with the little black-and-white fur ball. Well, we all decided Hilary was wrong! We prepared to deliver the hard sell.

We arrived at the Earth Pets parking lot ready to convince the Captain to adopt us. But not long after we met him (after tugging him away from the older lady whose lap he seemed to have already fallen in love with), we got the distinct impression that Hilary had been right. The Captain was not quite meant for us. Disappointed, we started for our car but were intercepted by one of the Paws on Parole volunteer dog trainers. Trying to encourage us, she asked what we were looking for in a family dog. “Well, something not too big. Like … see him over there?” I pointed to the Iron Man, while shaking my head negatively, “He's too big.”

Patty responded with a hard sell of her own: Iron Man, who had been a stray awaiting adoption at the Alachua County Animal Services before being chosen for the POP program, was the sweetest, mellowest and funnest of all the Avengrrs — her absolute favorite of the whole class (sorry Captain!!). An hour later, Michael, Annie, Kelsey, Emma Rose, Claire and I were still sitting on a curb in the Earth Pets parking lot with Iron Man (now known as Cody) at our feet. We had found our perfect match: a 60-pound American bulldog-lab mix, who definitely sheds, and, like most 2-and-a-half-year-olds, does have the occasional accident.

Marian Borg is an associate professor of sociology in the department of sociology and criminology and law at the University of Florida. Her husband, Michael Barbarette, is a criminal defense attorney.

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