How it all began

I hadn’t been to a dentist in years. Being a poor college student, I didn’t have dental insurance, so it didn’t seem worth it to spend money on annual visits when I could use that money for things like food and paying my pg & e bill. So, when I graduated and started a full-time job with actual health benefits, I decided it was time to face the music. I looked up the closest dentist and booked an appointment for both me and my husband, Sean.

After I was done being tortured getting my teeth cleaned, I waited around for Sean, but really there are only so many magazines you can flip through, so after a while I wandered next door to the Pet Food Express store.  A sign in front announced there was a dog adoption fair taking place in the back.  In the back of my mind a little warning bell tolled, but I pushed it away.  “I just want to look,” I promised myself.  “There’s no harm in looking.”

Five minutes later and I saw him.  He was sitting there, stoically letting a hyperactive puppy chew on his head.  I wandered closer, reading the sign pinned to the edge of his pen, telling me his name was Gordy, he was an aussie mix, and he was probably about a year old.  I reached into the pen and pet him behind his ear, and he turned and looked at me with those huge brown eyes, then gave my wrist an experimental lick, all the while watching me cautiously.  His expression clearly said, “I don’t know about you, lady.”

I talked to his foster mom, Mae, who told me he had been found on the street.  He was so scared they had to take him in on a long pole, and their foundation, the Nike Animal Rescue Foundation (NARF), had rescued him from the shelter.  Due to his high level of fear and stress, they knew it was his only chance of finding a home; he wouldn’t have made it in a shelter.

I went back and collected Sean, then dragged him over to the adoption fair.  “You need to see this one dog,” I told him, even though we both agreed we weren’t planning on getting a dog yet.  Five minutes later and we were taking Gordy for a walk.  I wish I could say he enjoyed it, but he kept his tail tucked almost the entire time and kept glancing fearfully around.  He was all skin and bones and anxiety, and when we returned him to his foster mom and headed home, Sean and I talked about the possibility of adopting him so he could have a permanent home and relax.

We went back and forth.  “We live in an apartment,” I reminded Sean.

“I run every day,” he pointed out, “and you like to go on hikes.  He would get plenty of exercise.”  There were also several dog parks nearby.

“We don’t make a lot of money,” I said, a little less sure.  “And a dog is a big responsibility.”  There was no getting around that.

“That’s true,” Sean agreed.  “Maybe we should wait.”

I could feel my heart sinking at that, images of Gordy looking so uncertain and anxious flashing through my mind, but I nodded.  After all, I was the one arguing against getting a dog.  I firmly believed, and still do, that you should never get a pet on a whim.  “Yes,” I said.  “We’ll wait.  Maybe we’ll get a dog in another year or two.”  We looked at each other, each waiting for the other to say it first.

“I want to get him,” Sean burst out finally.

I smiled.  “Me, too,” I said.  A week later we went back to the adoption fair and turned in our application.  Once everything was reviewed and signed, we took Gordy home with us.  And to this day, I think this was the best decision we ever made.

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