What A Difference A Year Makes

The most challenging part was what to name her. 

She was a puppy with no pedigree, no chip from a previous owner, and fresh out of surgery. Spayed. 

“You KNOW we are not going to come home empty-handed when you ‘visit’ a dog at the shelter,” said my husband, one year ago, this day. Of course I knew that. But I felt ready, and don’t know why, other than I was ready to take on the challenge, again, to give a dog a home. 

With a knick-knack-paddywhack-give a dog a bone, this young dog came rolling home. 

We had been fostering a couple of mixed breeds during the pandemic. If I had a choice, I’d adopt them all. There was sweet Ruby, and most memorably, Doug the Dog. Fortunately, both ended up being adopted by open-minded families, although Doug was traded in at least once. He was a sweet brute. Like, a really sweet brute whose energy could move a wall even if the wall didn’t need moving. 

So, after one fosters a dog or two and becomes attached with the notion of filling a home after the human children fledge, a curious itch to adopt takes over.  

I was looking online, not really with any intention to fill a void. And then “she,” yet unnamed, showed up on my laptop screen. How could anyone – anyone – give this beauty up? Who would abandon that puppy and not search for her when she went missing? 

Let’s foster her, I thought, but no, the foster manager told me. The local SPCA doesn’t foster puppies because they are so easily adoptable. “You’d better get here early,” she instructed. “We have lines out the door for puppies as pretty as she is.” 

So there we were after much convincing, sitting on a bench waiting for the shelter doors to open, discussing how demanding dogs are, and how adoption would create multiple inconveniences in our new, semi-retired status.  

There were no lines “out the door,” but closer to the shelter’s opening time, families did start showing up, looking to take love home in the form of a displaced pet. Statistics have proven that adoption rates skyrocketed during the pandemic. There have been empty shelters, believe it or not – one bright light during the aftermath of a pandemic. 

I was in the process of filling out adoption paperwork for a puppy we hadn’t even met yet when “she” blasted through the doorway with a volunteer in tow. My husband shouted my name when he saw her, and that was it. Deal sealed. Puppy love at first sight. Just buy the collar and take her home. She cunningly won my, his heart immediately, and I needed no convincing either. We took her to her new home. 

The first hurdle was renaming her since her given, temporary name was also that of a daughter in law. We didn’t think that would go over very well. We ended up naming her Honey, not only because of her coat’s color, but also because she seemed sweet. (We’ve since learned that’s a part time disposition. Oh well.) 

Every other hurdle, since that day we took in Honey precisely one year ago, has taught us many lessons. Most importantly, adoption teaches you how to make room for a stranger in your own living space. 

She is an invasive species who gained 65 pounds in one year (we had no idea she’d grow like she has), but we cannot imagine another family more suited for her demands and personality. If she’s not on your lap, she’s on your favorite pillow.  

There’s nothing like a welterweight Labtop to put life into perspective. Dogs don’t care about politics or the weather. They only want to pay attention to what’s right in front: family. 

By Bridget Fitzpatrick

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