It was destiny.
When Spencer first came to us, I was very sick. So sick, in fact, that I wasn’t even able to go with Jeremy to meet with the rescue group. He’d made arrangements to meet up with them and choose from the remaining puppies in a litter that they had up for adoption. I was so upset that I couldn’t go. This was such a huge decision we were making, choosing the dog that would become our first puppy “child.” But Jeremy was eager to bring this addition into our family, and who was I to argue? We’d had a rough year, with me being in and out of the hospital, suffering greatly and bedridden a good portion of the time. On one hand, it was terrible timing: I was so ill, had no strength and no energy…how would I be able to care for a rambunctious new puppy? On the other hand, it was exactly what we needed: our home had become rather stale with the darkness and hopelessness that often comes along with someone dealing with a disabling disease. We decided to bite the bullet and just go for it. And although it would be a challenge, it would also turn out to be the best decision we could have ever made.
When Jeremy got to the adoption site, there were only two puppies still available from the litter: a very friendly, enthusiastic chocolate brown male and another male, this one golden brown, but extremely shy and nervous. He was so shy that he hid his face away and wouldn’t even look Jeremy in the eye. If he was going strictly by energy and connection, Jeremy probably would have overlooked that shy little puppy and chosen the outgoing chocolate brown pup instead. But he left the decision up to me. Stuck at home, all I had to go by were the two photos that Jeremy had texted to me, and even though the puppies were both as cute as could be, something told me to choose that little golden brown one.
When he first arrived in our home, this little 9-week old, mixed breed puppy was just as shy as ever. His sparse fur was coarse, almost mange-like, and he was itching with fleas. We gave him special baths, changed his diet and well, spoiled him rotten. In true puppy fashion, when his nervous energy kicked in, he was into everything and anything.
I was Spencer’s sole parent each day when Jeremy went to work. Some mornings, I could barely get out of bed; but even while experiencing my worst pain, nausea and fatigue, I had to push through it: chasing after Spencer, cleaning up his potty accidents (and there were lots of those!), making sure he had food and water and occupying him whenever he called for it. No matter how sick I felt, I found a way to work through it whenever my little guy needed me.
We saw improvements in Spencer in just a short time. His rough, patchy fur became a thick, lush, silky coat. His fleas disappeared and he became confident and adventurous in his new home. He was vivacious and protective, always making us laugh and exuding constant unconditional love. During the moments when I was too sick to get out of bed, he was always right there, lying beside me.
And as Spencer’s symptoms gradually improved, a funny thing happened: so did mine. I mean, it didn’t happen overnight, but over time, I started to experience healing, and Spencer seemed to be a critical part of that. Perhaps it was his innocent, pure-of-heart energy, perhaps it was his unconditional love, or perhaps it was the task of having to take care of someone other than myself…a little being that was suddenly dependent on me. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above.
Today, that once 10-pound puppy has grown to 70 pounds of soft, velvety love who attracts attention wherever he goes. He is sweet and affectionate. He has a face full of wrinkles, which sometimes causes people to mistake as him being sad, even though he’s usually as happy as could be (I think those wrinkles make him look “distinguished,” like a wise old man who knows something we don’t.) He has a special talent for knowing just how to beg for treats, and with that face, he succeeds in getting what he wants a good portion of the time. And when his golden brown eyes look back at me, my heart simply melts.
He’s still often nervous — sometimes even frightened — around unfamiliar people and situations (he never grew out of that), but we know it’s only because of his protective, sensitive nature. It’s something we work on with him every day. His needs are special, and they do require extra patience, but we feel we were called upon to happily take on that challenge.
And I really do believe it was fate that brought us all together. When I think back to that rainy November afternoon, I’m grateful that I was too sick to go. After watching other dog adoptions since then, I realize that if I had been there in person that day, I might not have made that “connection” people are often looking for with a new adoption, and therefore, we both might have very likely passed over that shy, “uninterested” little puppy and chosen his more outgoing brother (who, if his personality was any indication, I’m sure had no problem eventually finding a forever home). But destiny insisted: we were meant to be Spencer’s, and he was meant to be ours. As cliché as it sounds, we didn’t rescue Spencer…he rescued us. He brought happiness and healing to a household that desperately needed it, and Jeremy and I are thankful for him everyday.
(Check out Puppy Love, Part 2: Luciano here.)