During the next couple weeks, Luedecke and I corresponded regularly, communicating insights and ideas about compatible candidates for adoption. After determining a potential dog in Indiana may not be the best fit, Luedecke informed us that she was going to be getting a dog from Michigan that she thought may be a match. We were told that he was 3 years old, a boy, playful, liked cuddles and got along with other people and dogs; he was working on his potty habits. His original home had surrendered him to rescue when their growing family left little time for a dog. The following day, Luedecke posted a picture of an Italian greyhound named Maurice on the Ohio IG Rescue site. It was love at first sight. After all our didactic dog diligence, a pair of dark expressive eyes, a curious smile, a diminutive head and a fawn like coat was all it took to know he was "the one."
Less than two weeks later, we traveled to Toledo to meet Maurice at his foster home. He had been fully vetted by the rescue, including a comprehensive dental procedure that included removal of two teeth irrevocably damaged due to poor dental care at his original Michigan home. Holly Baumgartner – a rescue volunteer with two rescue Italian greyhounds of her own – had kindly welcomed Maurice into her home for a week, helping to acclimate him to a new, caring life. She also welcomed my girlfriend and I into her home. Baumgartner and I had exchanged numerous messages to that point, as she kept us constantly up to date on how Maurice was doing, and what she had come to learn of his disposition. She was as enthusiastic, helpful and as patient as Luedecke. It made the excitement leading up to meeting him all the more intense.
Within 20 minutes of our arrival, Maurice was sitting on my girlfriend's lap – and he cuddled happily in my arms not long after. Baumgartner's calm reassurance made the transition possible, and we all giggled in amazement with how quickly Maurice took to us. We left with Maurice, a travel crate, leads and leashes, dog sweater and jacket, food, toys, nail clipper and more. We left with two new friends in our lives.
Maurice – or "Momo," as he's been affectionately nicknamed – has taken to his new life with us, and we are smitten. Baumgartner had said he was timid when it came to play, but he's taken to his toys with the gusto of a puppy in his first week. He loves to go for walks, though it had been so long since he was regularly walked that he still needs to build up callouses on his paw pads. He loves cuddles, and his crate and potty habits only add to my wondering how anybody could ever let him go – though I'm thrilled they did.
Mostly, I am enlivened by the kindness we experienced. Maurice's case is a comparatively tame one, as the network of volunteers who make the Ohio Italian Greyhound Rescue a success contend with dogs that were criminally abused; dogs that require serious medical care, as well as love and affection. Baumgartner's two rescue dogs came from dreadfully abusive environments, and shortly after Maurice's arrival, Luedecke had rescued a trio of dogs that were egregiously neglected. With the help of the Ohio IGR volunteers, those dogs get a new lease on life and in doing so, enrich the lives of those who adopt them. Although Maurice went through the hands of four people before getting to us, giving him no real sense of home, he's found a safe and happy one with us. He's reminded us of how simple fun can be. He makes us laugh, and he's reinvented mornings as a joyous celebration. On cold days, he's a warm comforter. He encourages us to actually experience life unconditionally, and for that, he's my 10-pound hero. Needless to say, the Ohio Italian Greyhound rescue does much more than its name suggests.