Barbara and Victor Rodriguez looked at each other and shared a laugh, finally understanding why when they were last at Newtown's dog pound over the weekend, volunteers repeatedly asked the Danbury couple whether they were sure they would return to adopt an aging white labrador retriever with a host of medical ailments.
"Now we understand," Barbara Rodgriguez, 44, said at about noon Tuesday as the couple returned true to their word to adopt the dog.
Over the years, would-be adopters often showed up at the dog pound with the best intentions, promising to return for one of the animals only to never appear, officials said. Volunteers and animal control officers have come to expect it as most of the dogs at the pound have a host of problems that can include behavioral and medical ones that make the animals difficult to adopt.
The labrador retriever volunteers and animal control officers dubbed "Lady" was among those, though considered one of the more recent occupants, having been found disoriented and wandering Bancroft Road in August with no owner nearby.
The labrador has a host of medical issues, including severe arthitis that limits her movement and tumor growths, all of which had Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason believing the dog might have only a few months to live, time better spent outside of the kennel.
"I just appreciate you getting her out of here," Mason told the Rodriguezes.
Barbara and Victor Rodriguez said they had three aging labradors and a shepherd pit bull waiting at home to play with the family's newest member. The couple makes it a point to only adopt the most vulnerable among dogs.
"We adopt only seniors," Barbara Rodriguez said of their dogs. "She'll be No. 5 – again."
The couple said they started as foster owners, with their first dog a quirky 10-year-old foxhound mix. They then came to adopt more for a total of five in their household at any one time.
"We're a five-dog family," Victor Rodgriguez said.
Because the dogs are older, they tend to be easier to keep.
"They're quiet," Barbara Rodriguez said of the dogs. "They fit us as well."
At the same time, as the dogs' medical condition starts to deteriorate, the animals may require more care such, as being carried up and down stairs, and in some cases may need to be put down as their mobility is severely hampered and the pain they experience increases, according to the couple.
But as the couple looked over the newest member of their family, which they renamed to "Harper Lee," after the author of the classic book, "To Kill a Mockingbird," they were predicting some fun times ahead for the dog.
"She'll be perky," Barbara Rodriguez said.
Victor Rodriguez added as he rubbed Harper Lee's coat, "Come springtime, you'll be swimming. You'll be up in Vermont and you'll have all of your siblings with you."