10 years ago this December I participated in my first adoption. Her name is Elle and she’s the apple of my eye.
She started off as a skinny stinky little thing. She was missing patches of hair and was so hungry she gobbled down People Crackers. I came to later learn that she doesn’t even like People Crackers. I assume she was suffering from some pretty intense hunger to eat them as quickly as she did.
I adopted Elle when she was approximately 5 months hold. I found her on PetFinder and I drove from New Jersey to North Carolina to pick her up on the side of the road. She was presented to me in a dirty and smelly towel, which was quickly discarded. I tucked into the safety of my backseat and drove the rest of the way home to Orlando for Christmas.
At Elle’s first vet appointment I learned that she was suffering from kennel cough (a common problem for dogs in a shelter), an infection and mange. $3000+ of vet bills and a maxed out credit card later, my little girl was much better.
Elle traveled back to New Jersey with me after Christmas. She lived a full Rutgers University experience, parties and all. While Elle started off as my dog, she quickly adopted Matt when he came into our lives. Together, the three of us moved our lives to Seattle when I started medical school.
Elle was followed by a second adoption in April 2012.
Cinder was an unexpected adoption. We were driving past our local rescue when Matt had a spontaneous desire to go inside and visit the dogs. I happily obliged.
Once inside, I quickly realized Matt was actually looking for another dog. We visited with three dogs, but the little black one with the white paw caught our eyes and our hearts. She was loud and feisty in her cage but quite timid when introduced to Elle. We learned that she was found in Yakima wandering the streets on a cold day with her two puppies. Animal Services was called because one of her puppies was lying on the sidewalk, presumably dead from hyperthermia. Cinder and her other puppy were taken to Animal Services and eventually pulled out by a rescue in Eastern Washington, Homeward Pet.
Once at Homeward Pet, Cinder’s puppy was quickly adopted but she was left behind. She was estimated to be 2 years old, so it surprised me that she was passed over. After a trial weekend of fostering Cinder we knew we had to have her.
One of the most unique things we experienced when we brought Cinder home was her standoffish behavior towards all three of us. It took her well over a month to stop isolating herself and to learn that we had her for keeps. Her transformation from the first day we brought her home to today is incredible. It was a true reminder that no matter who you are, all you need is love.
That brings us to today.
Over Thanksgiving we brought a third rescue dog into our lives.
Mila came from the notoriously overcrowded Miami Dade Animal Services. She was on death row, deemed aggressive and sick with a URI. I saw her photo on the MDAS website and in an instant I knew I had to save her. Thanks to several dedicated volunteers, they were able to pull Mila from the shelter and house her until transport became available. She was listed as a 6 year old dog, but we learned from our vet that she appears to be closer to 8 or 9 in age.
Our experience with Cinder has made welcoming Mila into our lives so much easier. We understand her need to seclude and when we see her little bursts of happiness, we know that she’s on her way to realizing she has a forever family. She has moments of difficulty as any new rescue would, but over all, she is the sweetest, most cuddly dog. She follows me around as though she is my shadow and asks for nothing but affection.
This holiday season, I just want to remind you that there are millions of animals facing euthanasia because they have been abandoned. Open your heart, #adoptdontshop.
Happy holidays, friends! I hope your week is full of love, family and furry friends.