Sometimes I surprise myself. After our dog died in January, I admit that I did secretly visit the Animal Humane Society (“AHS”) several times, but it was only to look at the dogs. I missed having a dog around me, so looking at dogs there was what I did to get my “dog fix.” The dogs looked cute, but none made a connection with me, or I didn’t make a connection with any of those dogs.
After having lunch with my mom and my two daughters the other day, I asked my girls if they would like to stop at the AHS on the way home. Again, I just wanted to look at the dogs.
“No, that is such an emotional rollercoaster,” my daughter Laura said sadly. Laura was talking about the time when about a month ago, she was in search of a dog to love. Laura found Nellie at the AHS. Laura was there for more than her “dog fix.” The kids talked me into going to meet Nellie, and when I met her, I felt a twinge of guilt because I felt as if I was somehow betraying our dog that passed away. That feeling made me wonder if there is an amount of time that people need to wait until they get another dog. Is there a human-loves-dog-that-passed-away mourning period? I had a very uncharacteristic reaction when I met Nellie. Usually when I see dogs, we get along splendidly. This time was different. It was if I was glued to the chain link fence that I was resting my back up against. I knew Nellie was not the dog for me. The kids were very upset with me when I told them how I felt, but I just wasn’t ready for Nellie.
“Are we going to get a dog, if we go there?” Laura asked.
“Let’s just go look,” I said, being very non-committal.
“Okay, we can go,” Katie said as she tried to convince Laura into going along even though Katie did agree with her sister that going to visit the AHS was like an emotional rollercoaster.
When we arrived, we first visited all the cute and cuddly cats that were comfortably sleeping or playing in the cool air-conditioned section of the building. When we walked over to the other side of the building to see the dogs, there was no air conditioning. No matter how many fans were blowing around that day, it was not enough to cool off the dogs when the heat index was well over 100 degrees. As we turned the corner, the first dog we saw was Lila. Laura called her name, and Lila hopped down off the mini-trampoline that was her bed to greet us. After we went on about how cute she was, we knew that we should look at the other dogs too. Most of the dogs were on hold waiting to go to their new homes, and I knew I wasn’t the only animal lover who visited there that day who felt bad that the dogs had to stay in the hot section of the building.
We visited with Lila in a little room. There was something about her that made the three of us fall in love with her right away. We admired her shiny black coat with the curly fur that covered her back, her beautiful brown eyes, and her happy disposition. The twangs of guilt that I felt when I met Nellie no longer existed when I met Lila. Even though the four of us knew Lila had our hearts, we had to find out if Lila liked the two other members of our family.
The volunteer was very helpful and answered all our questions. But when she asked us if we wanted to adopt Lila, I said that I had to talk to my husband.
“Do you want to put her on hold?” she asked.
“No,” I said. I knew that if Lila was meant to be a part of our family that she would still be there if we came back.
My husband told me that it was up to me, if I wanted to get the dog. I wasn’t completely sure that I was ready for another dog, and Laura could tell that I was second guessing myself.
Laura said, “Mom, you were smiling the whole time.” I realized that she was right.
Now that Dad was convinced, and so was I, we still had to have the approval of our son, Matt. After we filled Matt in about Lila, off we went.
When the volunteer saw us she said, “Are you back to see Lila?”
“Yes,” I said. Laura went to see if Lila was in her cage, and sure enough Lila was still there, happy to see us.
We could tell that Lila liked Matt by the way she slobbered a big kiss up the side of his face. Matt approved! So, I guess that just looking at the dogs wasn’t working any more for me to get my “dog fix.” Now our house feels like the home it is when that home has a dog living within – the best kind of home!
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