I’ve been thinking lately about how animals (and people) come into our lives when the time is right for us. And potentially, vice versa I guess. I try to keep this belief and use the change that happens to learn and grow. I can’t say I’m always immediately successful, but these big happenings can spur great changes if we let them.
I was sick for over a year (the first time) when we started looking for a dog. Even though I was feeling really poorly physically, we thought that since I was home all the time, it would be good to get a dog. This was our first dog as a couple, even though I’d had dogs all my life. Of course, I was not responsible for the dog growing up and there were six people in our house at the time. But I didn’t think having a dog would be all that difficult. When we found Sweet Pea, we were taken with her and adopted her almost immediately. But SP had issues that required a lot of patience and diligence. Even though it was terribly difficult for me at the beginning, she became my constant companion. She kept me company, kept me (in)sane, and kept me from collapsing in on myself. I had to be up and mobile with her. I had to learn patience for her. I learned compassion and sympathy and…strength. I had to find my own strength in order to care for her and the issues she had. Learning all those things changed me and helped me grow. She taught me things I didn’t know I needed to know…and she brought me so much joy and love. She was the impetus for much of my daily doings. She was the reason I pushed past pain and grief over the loss of my “normal” life. She was why I got out of bed, because there was no one else to take care of her every day.
After SP passed, I was sure it would be a very long time before we adopted another dog. I was more than heartbroken over the loss and the thought of another dog was … I just couldn’t even consider it. I couldn’t even consider having to do the things I did for SP for any other dog, so I felt that meant there should be no dog. It was almost as difficult to think that we would not have another dog as it was to think that we would have another dog. It was so strange. But the house was empty and I hated it. I hated being alone during the day. I hated the lack of sweet love you got from a dog. I knew we weren’t ready, but I started looking because we had been discussing a specific kind of dog. We were totally open for a mix of that breed, but there was only one breed we were really interested in…and we only rescue dogs. We never buy. So finding the breed we were interested in was bound to be difficult, so I started looking around. I registered with the local breed rescue and watched petfinder. It was reassuring that I felt I could look but didn’t have to adopt at that point, knowing finding the right breed would take a long time. But then a picture came up, of a dog that was not the breed we were looking for. I sent it to Hub and he agreed that the dog was cute and her description was really nice. But feeling something for the dog–even just via picture–was painful for me. It was only a few months after SP passed, I didn’t think I could handle it. I tried to let the dog in the picture go, but something kept me going back to check to see if she was still available. I finally gave in and emailed the rescue to find out more about her. And her story was a terrible one–dumped as a youngster, shuffled around from home to home due to circumstances beyond her control–I felt a tug on my heart. So we asked to meet her, even though I still hurt every day from SP’s loss. I hurt badly; I cried daily. We had my parents’ dog (Cray-cray lab) to consider, since we often dog sit for them and she was/is not great with other dogs. So we asked to have the new dog come to our house so we could see how she interacted with Cray-cray lab. Since the dog was still living with her current owner (allergies *sigh*), the woman agreed to come to us after hearing what a great home she would get with us. The meet & greet with Cray-cray lab went well, surprisingly, but the dog we met was nothing like the picture or the description. The dog we met had to be at least 20lbs overweight, round like a basketball with a tiny head. And she had absolutely no personality whatsoever. She seemed uninterested in anyone in particular, and mostly stood there looking around like she didn’t care what happened to her. It was devastating to me. I wanted a connection. I wanted to see a spark of life like we saw with SP. We got nothing. Nothing. But on paper she was everything we would have wanted, except for the fact that she was not the breed we had been interested in. We told the owner we had to think about it and we sent them home. And I spent that evening and the next day crying almost uncontrollably. I wanted to want the dog, but it hurt so much that she wasn’t SP. And it felt horrible to me that I felt no connection with the dog. This was the first dog for adoption we saw after SP’s death, but for some reason I felt that this was supposed to be our dog…but I didn’t like her. Or rather, I felt nothing for her, because she was just a big giant lump. I bawled on Hub’s shoulder and he told me over and over again that we didn’t have to adopt the dog, that she would get a good home somewhere else. I heard him, but again something told me this was supposed to be our dog…if only we had found her a few months later, I thought, it would have been perfect. I would have been okay, I would have been ready. But it was here and it was now. I asked to see the dog again, with the understanding that we still weren’t sure. The owner agreed and brought her over again. We tried to spend more time with her, to draw her out. We watched her interact with her owner to see if they had a connection and maybe the dog was shy. No, there was the same blankness with her owner (of over 8 months). I couldn’t help crying while they were here, because I had to have this dog for some reason, even though the timing and everything felt wrong. So we adopted her…Le Moo. And I think I cried for the first month she was here. And I left Hub to interact with her for the most part. I mean yes, I took care of her and fed her and took her out in the yard on a leash a million times a day (no fence yet). I gave her treats and I looked out for her, but I didn’t sit and pet her or brush her or even really talk to her. And in a strange way, she seemed okay with it. Le Moo is part cat…she is independent and prefers her own company most of the time…and comes seeking attention when and if she wants it. After probably a year she seemed to develop some personality, but the truth is, she’s not anything like SP. She doesn’t NEED us the way SP did. She doesn’t have to be in sight of us…and just as easily will sleep in an entirely different part of the house from where we are. She doesn’t need to sleep in our bedroom at night…and mostly does not. She doesn’t need to be in contact with us, or look for us during the day. She was perfectly fine with not being let outside all the time–although once outside she preferred to stay out there as much as possible. She didn’t need me to be emotionally attached to her. And at that time, I couldn’t be emotionally attached to her. But as she’s been here, I have become attached…and so has she. In her own independent way, she loves us and she loves my parents and brother. And she tolerates my parents’ lab in a nice way. I couldn’t have adopted another dog like SP who required constant attention and love, who needed to be fawned over and needed my interaction. Le Moo was the dog I needed. She kept me moving in her own subtle way. Less than SP did, but enough to keep me involved in life. She was so laid back and so centered on her own, I know now why she was the right dog and why my heart kept telling me to adopt her even though I didn’t want to.
Le Moo was stubborn, but she settled into the household easily. We had no housebreaking incidents and no other behavioral issues. She also seemed to get along with every other dog she met, considering how laid back and confident she is. She seemed to be the kind of dog other dogs looked up to and didn’t test or dominate. So after a long period of adjustment with her, we decided to start looking for a second dog. Le Moo seemed to LIKE other dogs, so we figured she’d be good with a companion. Again, we started looking for a certain breed, but this time there were two breeds we were interested in. Big dogs, of course, as we really enjoy big dogs…hairy, too. Both SP and Le Moo had and have long and lots of hair. Don’t judge me.
So we started looking for a second dog, registering with both of the breed rescues we had interest in. And I watched petfinder again, as well as some other local resources. I found a few dogs here and there that were of interest, but none of them worked out for various reasons. A couple of times it was really sad to have the potential adoption not happen, but I kept telling myself that the right dog was waiting for us somewhere. I just had no idea that somewhere would be over 1300 miles away! See, I found a listing on a rescue group I was a part of for one of the breeds I was interested in, with a link to a picture. The face on this dog was absolutely adorable. Like, you look at this face and you can’t help but smile. When I read the description for the dog, I thought she sounded exactly like what we were looking for, with the exception that she was a little younger than we had hoped. We really wanted a dog that was no less than 2 years old, but this dog was showing as 18 months. But the foster said she was very well behaved, loved other dogs, and wasn’t terribly rambunctious. The problem was, she was in Oklahoma. 1300 miles away. And we had no way to get her. But after talking to the rescue, and then to the foster, we were so far hooked it was crazy. The foster told us that they’ve used a transport group in the past and that he had used them to move his ten dogs when he moved from one location to another. So we signed paperwork, sight unseen, for this not-quite-adult dog. And then we had to wait for three weeks, because we missed the transport by one day and the next one was two weeks away…and the trip took almost a week because of the stopover they made halfway to let the dogs stretch and relax, and so they could clean out the transport truck. When we finally got to pick up Butthead, I was pretty terrified. We’d never met her, we only had the foster’s information to go on, and when she got off the truck, she was big but so so skinny. Like malnourished looking skinny. It made me want to cry! All this happened… But for all the trouble we’ve had with her (including being reduced to tears multiple times and wanting to send her back many many times), Butthead has opened my eyes to seeing the world differently. She’s more active than Le Moo, which requires more of my attention and more of my activity. And much much more of my patience. She reminds me to not be so serious all the time. She reminds me that I need to be engaged, not only with her and with Le Moo, but with people around me. She loves to be underfoot–like SP was–but without the neuroses that SP had. Luckily, she’s not noise or thunder-phobic (as Le Moo is turning out to be, unfortunately), though clearly still a puppy with puppy-type issues.
These animals, they came to me when I needed them. They were brought into my life for a reason. I’m sure I haven’t discovered all the reasons with the current dogs, but I’m open to finding as many of them as possible. Even if they sometimes infuriate and frustrate me, in the end I know I will grow and change and be better with them as part of my life.