Recently, I wrote a short story about my dog, Sadie, which is about how one dog can touch the lives of so many others. You can find her story in the new book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Really Did That?” It’s available now at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and your local books stores.
Sadie helped prolong the life of my yellow Labrador retriever, Wolfy, who had only weeks to live due to a fast growing tumor. Wolfy fell in love with Sadie as soon as I adopted her, and it helped him live an additional few months. She also helped my newest rescue, Oreo, a German Shorthaired Point mix, overcome multiple fears. When I adopted Oreo, she was afraid of everything and everyone. But today, she is outgoing and sometimes a bit of a bully. Sometimes I wonder if Sadie ever regrets the day she picked Oreo out as her new best friend at the Connecticut Humane Society. I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course, because the two of them absolutely adore one another. Their love for each other is heartwarming, and the love they give me is therapeutic.
No one is happier to see me when I come home than my dogs. Whether I’m feeling depressed, afraid, angry, lonely, or some other negative emotion, my dogs pull me out of it, restore me, and put a smile on my face – unlike any human. They are always happy, and it’s easy to smile and laugh at their antics. There’s nothing like having two dogs, with a combined weight of 110 lbs., lying in your lap, licking your face, giving you hugs, and loving you until you’re laughing yourself silly. No negative emotion can survive their infectious friendliness or their adorability.
Losing a dog can be devastating – and, unfortunately, their lives are way too short. After Wolfy died, I swore I would never adopt another dog again. As any dog owner knows, you love every dog that enters your life. And while every dog is special, only a select few take hold of your heart and never let go. Wolfy was one of those dogs; I didn’t think I could go through the process of loving and losing yet another dog. So, I was ready to call it quits.
But one day my friend said to me, “You can’t stop adopting dogs. Not now. Not ever. You’d be denying yourself the love they give, and them the love they need. Every time you can give a dog a home but choose not to, there’s a dog that gets destroyed. If you don’t give a shelter dog a home, who will?”
I thought about this a long time. I needed time to heal, of course, and I was still getting used to Sadie. But Sadie wasn’t eating – and it took me a while to figure out why. She needed another best friend. And while I didn’t yet feel ready to adopt, I thought long and hard about what my friend said. And I realized she was right. I had room in my home and my life for a second dog. I could still love Wolfy, and Sadie too, and still have room in my heart for another dog.
Oreo has been with me a year, and not once in that time have I regretted my decision to adopt her. As I sit here writing this story, she is on my lap, as she often is when I write. And Wolfy still has a strong hold on my heart; I think about him every day. But one day I’ll remember him with the same fondness that I have for my childhood dog, buckles, and it will be easier to move on. As the years go by, there will be others that will join them in my memories as I continue adopting new pets friends. And my heart will keep growing larger to accommodate them all. And I will be all the better for it.
When your beloved dog is gone, and you think there isn’t room in your heart for another one, think of all the shelter dogs that need homes. Think of all the dogs that destroyed each year because no one will adopt them. They need homes. They need your love. And if not you, then who?
Below are my favorite rescue organizations, some of whom are helping to rescue, feed, and find homes for many of the pets that were displaced during Hurricane Harvey. Please donate to any of the animal shelters below, or any of your local shelters, if you can. You’ll be helping to save a life.
American Humane – Washington, D.C.
SPCA Westchester, New York – Briarcliff Manor, New York
Connecticut Human Society – Newington, Westport, and Quaker Hill, Connecticut
Putnam Humane Society – Carmel, New York