Two years. Has it only been two years? It seems like life was entirely different in that season. Giles still worked at the doctor’s office and I don’t know if she knew yet that graduate school was going to happen. She had pushed to adopt but I wasn’t sure, mostly on account of she never having had a dog in the house.
My emotional distress over animals is well-documented. As a child I had nightmares after a visit to the humane society because I knew many of those animals would not be placed and would be killed. I purposely avoid visiting animal shelters and rescues for the simple reason that I will be traumatized with the thought that any of those animals will not be adopted into forever homes.
That is one of the most beautiful things about the shelter in Hillsdale. They will keep the animals forever if they have to because they are committed to a no-kill ethic. They are also a small operation in rural Michigan with a very limited budget and a cast of awesome volunteers.
Two years ago as we drove down there, Giles said we were just going to meet him and see how it would go. We knew he was about 3 or 4 years old and that he had been mistreated before he got to the shelter. It took several adults an hour or two to brush the matts out of his fluffy coat, and then he had spent a good six months at the shelter before the day we visited. He was loved and cared for there, but it was not a forever home.
In my heart, I always know that I don’t “visit” a dog who needs to be adopted (why? see above). They are coming home with me unless there is some glaring reason why it won’t work out. I’m emotionally shaky when it comes to dogs and rejecting one who deserves to be loved is just not going to happen.
When we arrived at the shelter we found out that a volunteer had taken him for a walk. So we waited. And waited. They offered to bring us back to see other dogs while we waited but we declined. Probably my heart was yelling “DEAR GOD NO I CAN’T DON’T DO THIS TO ME” but I think I managed to stay composed and smile politely.
Waiting was awful. But then they came through the front door and then. You know how you just know? He smiled. He gave kisses. We both melted. It was a perfect moment. Nicholas Sparks could not write a more loving moment (also, somebody would probably die shortly after, it is a Nicholas Sparks story).
My favorite part was how conflicted the shelter staff and volunteers were to see him go. The college volunteer said he was her favorite dog there, and the staff said he was one of the best behaved dogs they had in a long time. He loved everyone, including the other dogs and cats. “How could you not fall in love with him?” one of them said as we were leaving.
I know not everyone feels a deep love for dogs and some for good reasons. Some people train dogs to be mean and nasty and a few of my friends have been on the wrong end of that. It sucks.
But we’re on the other end of that spectrum. Bear is part of our family and he brings a ton of joy into our lives. One of our housemates (is that the word? Lives in the same house but a different flat? Help?) said:
“I never have really liked dogs all that much. But Bear is just so happy! He goes out of his way to see me and love me. I can’t resist.”
Two years ago, joy and love came into our home in a new, fluffy way. Hopefully you can make room for joy in your homes too. Just ask Giles, it’s worth it.
Consider donating to the Greater Hillsdale Humane Society today, or any day, in honor of Bear and all of the dogs and cats like him who need care until they find their forever homes.