In Memory of Snofkin

By Nina Natelson

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Snofkin in Israel

She was the one no one wanted, the last still waiting to be adopted. Named for an Israeli cartoon character, little Snofkin was no match for the larger dogs at the boarding facility. Her entire arsenal of threats to potential aggressors consisted of bloodcurdling noises and bared teeth. No one ever heard such varied and chilling sounds emitted from a single dog, especially one so small. At our main adoption event, all the mothers gave her a wide berth.


"That one bites," each one cautioned others who approached, shepherding their children toward the seemingly less feisty pups. A bundle of energy, she tantalizingly incited the entire mob of  dogs into frenzied rowdiness. The head of the kennel dubbed her "the terrorist."


"She starts it, but the others finish it," the kennel manager said. "Anyone can take food or a bone right out of her mouth and she won't resist." The fact was, she had never bitten anyone.


"Tell that to the mothers," I thought.


Each time I came to the kennel to check on the dogs remaining to be adopted, she raced to the front, reared up on her hind legs, and pawed excitedly at the gate.


"She can't stay in the kennel forever," the manager said.


I agreed to foster her till somehow I found someone to adopt her. Thrilled to be released from confinement, she squirmed so on my lap as we drove that I sentenced her to the back seat. From there, she leaned forward and perched her head on my shoulder, the very picture of sweetness and innocence.


"Why couldn't you behave like this at the adoption event?" I chastised.


Once home, she set about the more serious business of mass destruction. One set of living room drapes, one rug, one suitcase, two pairs of shoes, three books, three pairs of glasses, several CDs and credit cards, and many dragged-in sticks later, she had firmly established that she could outshred an automatic grater. Her second talent seemed to be escaping through the tiniest opening between the fence and the house.


Roaming the neighborhood in search of high adventure, she dragged home many and varied trophies. Somewhere, a woman frantically searched for a missing sexy top, a mother checked under every stone for a baby's missing red and blue Spiderman shoe and a yellow, plastic duck. Through the window, I caught a glimpse of a backyard strewn with colorful and unique objects. Surely someone in uniform would arrive at any moment to condemn the property.


Snofkin and my own much larger dog became the best of friends, and soon, I was serenaded with the clanking of dueling dental sets accompanied by what sounded like a mixture of screeching cranes, baying wolves, and the revving of a boat engine. As I cuddled with our cats, Snofkin watched enviously, then plunked herself down in between us, eager for her share of the bounty. Longingly, she gazed up at me; busily, her tail lashed at them.


A born snuggler and avid licker, sometimes it was hard to imagine her in full lawn mower mode. Naturally, the moment my attention was diverted, she shredded the cats' purr pads —soft squares on which they lay — leaving the living room dotted with tufts of white fuzz.


"Who is going to adopt this bundle of destruction?" I thought. She peered up at me with huge, pleading eyes, her pug tail batting an allegro pace, in her mouth — extending out wider than her body — a blue velour bone that read "KOSHER."


At last, long after all the other dogs had been placed, someone agreed to take her. "Hallelujah!" I cried. Finally, I was free! Yet surprisingly, I found myself thinking up all kinds of reasons why this was not the right placement for her. Reluctantly, I admitted that Snofkin had somehow, despite all logic, wiggled and squirmed her way into my heart.



Snofkin relaxing at home

Snofkin became the terror of our nearby dog park, hurling herself with abandon onto pit bulls and Great Danes. As always, she was all sound and fury, signifying nothing more than an overly energetic puppy. Whatever she started, others finished. Supremely content to have been the spark that ignited the commotion, she stretched out her full length on the sofa, four paws in the air, and dreamt deliciously of what she would shred next.


Tragically, Snofkin died at just 9 months old, from an undetectable and untreatable congenital heart condition. She made the most of every second of that time.