Vinny and I met sometime in June 2000. My friend found him a couple of blocks from my house, and as he does with all the strays he finds, he brought him to me. That night was very rainy and dark. When I first saw Vinny I wasn't sure if he was a puppy that had been on the streets for quite some time or an old man that had some serious health issues. Whatever the case he had a filthy coat with patches of hairloss and a terrified temperment. I decided to bring him in and let him spend the next couple of days with us until I could find him a home.

Days turned into weeks, and in that time I happened to find another dog. I realized my mission was to rescue, and that I could not keep Vinny or Penny(the other dog I had found). So I went on placing ads in the newspaper and posting signs, but to no avail. Penny found a home but I couldn't find one for Vinny. The day after I found him it occurred to me that he was very close to, if not a purebreed American Eskimo Dog. The fact that he was probably eight to eleven years old, not very socialized, and not in great health, hindered his adoption status.

I got in touch with Audra from Heart Bandits who was a great help. With constant correspondence we were on the road to finding Vinny a home. Unfortunately it took months and pretty soon Vinny had been in my care for almost six months already. In that time our bond had deepened and I didn't have the heart to give Vinny away.

Vinny is a very strange character. For months I would get no reaction out of this dog. The only time he seemed a bit interested in his life here was when he first met my other dogs. Other than that, he showed no interest in my human family or myself at all. I suppose his age and change of living conditions had something to do with it, but Vinny was the most solitary, untrusting canine I had ever met. He never barked or showed interest in my cats, never messed up the house or tried to jump on the bed...a very odd dog. But he was Vinny. And I accepted him for who he was. When he was ready to show me something, I knew he would.

It's funny to sit here and write this now, thinking of how far we have come. In a normal dog/human relationship, that's not so far at all. But that's what I love about my Vin Vin. He still hasn't kissed me but he plays with me sometimes, he shows some excitement when I come home. I've put him on my bed and he stays there We have fun when we walk in the park smelling all the other doggy scents. It's not much to others, but it's a lot to me.

I love Vinny just as much as I love my other dogs, but of course in a different, special way. We are secret buddies, in our own little secret way. We are so lucky to have each other, and I couldn't imagine him in another home. I don't think his adopter or he could handle such a long introductory period. Sometimes people expect too much from dogs. I know Vinny is happy where he is, and I'm very happy too. I know one day I'll get that kiss from him, but even if I don't I'll still love him the same. I thank Heart Bandits, Audra in particular, for all their hard work and dedication, not just to Vinny, but to all the little dogs out there who need loving families.

Linda Ragazzini