I know that people talk about rescuing dogs if you simply want a pet. They don't feel a person should go out and purchase a dog when they want a companion. I know it probably sounds strange coming from a person who spent three years in high school volunteering at a shelter and actively helps find dogs a new home periodically if they happen to fall into my lap, but I thought about it for awhile and I realized why I have no wish to adopt a dog again. Why any time I look at dogs who need rescue I simply can't be moved.
She was the one.
After three years of heartbreak, sweat, tears and hours upon hours of helping animals try to find their forever home, I finally got to save one. I had been waiting all my life up until I was going to turn seventeen to bring home a dog. To finally bring home that dog who I found a connection with rather than notice they weren't in the kennels one day and hope that their ending was a happy one.
I will never forget the day that I was walking down the kennels with my little brother. We were there to choose a dog for him, since he was the youngest and I was going to head to college the next year. But as soon as I walked to her kennel and saw her little big paws go up on the mesh of the door, I fell to one knee and put my hand against her paws.
It was love at first sight.
No one ever doubted that she was my girl. From the moment she came into the house, I was the one who did her training. I spent my time playing with her, loving her. She was my everything. She was so smart. She had so much heart. If I was doing something, she wanted to be there. Even if it was something that physically was hard for her to do. She wouldn't leave my side. When we went hiking when I was younger, even if with bad hips there was more danger to her, she was right at my side when things were tough. She'd help me up hills, she would stay right in the water - which she loathed - at my side. If I asked her to try, she would try. She loved the whole family, she would keep herself positioned so she could hear us all if she needed us, but every morning she had to know I was okay.
It didn't matter that I went to college when she was only a year old. Any time that I came home it was obvious how devoted to me she was. Every time that I'd walk into that door, she would be right there. She always knew when it was me. She never barked at me. She would jump up, wrap herself around me, do crazy happy jumping circles. Nothing ever got her down.
She wasn't perfect, her body certainly wasn't perfect, but to me she was perfect.
She went through a hip being replaced, not letting it slow her down. In truth it only gave her wings to fly and she could move like she never had been able to before. It wasn't perfect. I was so lucky that the surgeons were so skilled that she had such a solid hip. I am convinced that it gave her the last three years that we had together. A total of eleven wonderful years would never be enough.
Truth is that losing her killed a part of me. She stole a large part of me when her breath left her lungs and she died peacefully in my arms, her failing body no longer a prison. I was broken. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't move. It was over. She was gone. And thinking about it, three years later, still tears a part of me up and I end up fighting tears as I sit here. I had been preparing to lose her for years, had everything that I wanted planned. Knew what I wanted for her, but it didn't matter.
When I moved out of my parents' house for good, I was looking for another dog. I knew that I needed to get another dog before I lost her, otherwise I was going to fall into darkness and not see a way out of it. I knew it deep within my heart that I had to have another dog, I had to have a reason to get up. To get going. To go out and find a way to move forward from her loss. I looked everywhere for months, looked at dogs from all kinds of avenues, but there was always a twist in my gut. Something felt wrong. I didn't feel like it was right. It took months before I saw the picture of a few little bundles of gold and found myself drawn back again and again.
Only a dog who really felt right could ever come in, could get my attention. And since I lost her, I have never felt that looking at shelter dogs, at rescue dogs. I felt moved when I saw Myles as a puppy. When I saw Leia stacked on a breeder's website right near me, right when I was looking into where I could find a white shepherd. And I looked for months at a certain lime collared puppy before I asked his breeder if she was going to have any shorter coated litters after the one she bred last August. I feel so right with my dogs. Each one of them has a special bond with me and they are exactly what I expected when I went to pick them up from their breeders.
So that's it. I can't see myself adopting another dog again. I never look at them and think to myself, that is it. I want that dog. It's like I'm apathetic toward their plight. For three years I worked every weekend and most of my summers to help the animals. To find them homes, to give them some time with somebody. I have many wonderful memories from that time. Many dogs who struck me deeply.
But after her, there will never be another shelter dog for me. She was the end to that era, she was the one I got to save.
And honestly. I'm perfectly okay with that.