When Nora invited me to write a story about my dogs, I had a hard time picking just one story. Dogs have always been a big part of my life and a part of my family. I told her I could write about my first dog that we adopted when I was only a year old. I could write about the dog that came after her and stole my mother’s heart. I could write about Ella, my first dog that I picked out on my own. Or I could write about Mr. Gibbs, the dog that touched my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. In the end, I decided to write about them all.
Can you pick a dog by its bow?
When I was a year old, my parents took me to the local animal shelter around Christmas to pick out a dog. The shelter was feeling a little festive and a little golden puppy with a big red bow caught my attention. I picked her out and she became a part of our family until the summer after my junior year. She was one of the sweetest, well-behaved dogs ever. She loved pets, being with her family, and hanging out in the sprinkle on a hot day.
My favorite memory of Sandy is the time we locked her out of her own yard. We’re not even sure how it happened. We came home from going somewhere and found Sandy laying on the front porch waiting for us. When my dad went to check the gate, it was somehow locked with her outside of it. Instead of running away, she simply waited on the front porch for us to return. Like I said, she was one of the best behaved dogs ever.
We’re not getting another dog.
After Sandy passed away, my mom was firm in her decision that we weren’t getting another dog. My sister and I were both in high school and she knew we’d be leaving the nest before long. We wanted another dog but respected our mom’s decision as well. Since we couldn’t have a dog of our own, we started volunteering at the local animal shelter. The shelter required an adult to volunteer with us so my dad joined us every week.
One week, there was this cute male puppy that we all fell in love with. He was a few months old and able to go home that day. My dad called my mom and told her all about this puppy. He joked that we were bringing him home with us but she believed him and was surprised when we didn’t come home with a puppy. This opened the door to the conversation of getting another dog. My mom said we could adopt another puppy but we needed to take time picking one out. A few days later, my mom and dad had picked out a sweet little girl that we named Kandy. (Read more about Kandy in my goodbye letter.)
You never know – you could find a dog or meet a guy.
Kandy was a big part of my life. She was such a big part of my life that when I started thinking about moving out, I realized how much I would miss her. She was the family dog though and couldn’t go with me. So, I asked my parents if I could adopt a dog of my own. They agreed because it was nearing summer and as a teacher, that meant I’d have a lot of time to train another dog. There was an adoption event at a local Petsmart. I made plans to go after work and almost backed out after a tough day in the classroom. My sister was the one that told me to go. “You never know – you could find a dog or meet a guy.” I was single at the time so either option seemed like a good day.
I circled the event looking for puppies and realized they didn’t have many. During my circle, a one year old dog with a green polka dot ribbon caught my eye. She was quiet and a bit shy but there was something about her that spoke to me. A volunteer saw me lingering and asked if I wanted to take her for a walk. A few minutes into the walk, I called my mom and told her I’d found a dog. I’m still not sure what it was but there was an unspoken connection. She found me when I really needed it. And she continues to hang by my side today even after many ups and downs in life. She’s my perfect match in so many ways.
Four Years and a Mountain of Stories
Around five years ago, my husband and I decided that we were ready to get a dog together. We were finally in a location where we could get a house, which meant a yard for a furry friend to run around in. We both had dogs growing up and our love for them ran deep. When we first started talking about dogs, I told him that I had one thing that was important – that we adopt from a shelter or rescue. He agreed and we started checking the local shelters.
It took us several locations and a few disappointments before we found Mr. Gibbs at the animal control shelter. He was a hound mix estimated to be around 4 years old that acted like an oversized puppy. I was pregnant with our first son and his size intimidated me some but my husband felt a connection. In the end, a strong bond formed between Mr. Gibbs and myself. He was my silly boy that always kept us on our toes. He was only in our lives for four and a half years before his time was cut short by a battle with cancer. He filled my memories with so many stories and laughs though. I plan to share some of those stories in future posts when my head and heart are ready.
Every dog we’ve had has left pawprints on my heart. Ella continues to be a constant companion that gets snuggles from the boys, goes on adventures with us, and greets us every day. I’d like to think that Sandy, Kandy, and Mr. Gibbs are at Rainbow Bridge swapping stories and entertaining one another. Someday I’ll hug them each again and remind them of the love I have for them. Until then, I’ll snuggle the pups in my life and continue to give new dogs a fur-ever home as we have the space and time. After all, there’s so much we can learn from dogs.