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In September of 2016, my fiancé and I welcomed our very first 'fur child.' We, at the time, were renting the basement apartment of my future in-laws and, like children, we begged and begged to have a pet of our own. More specifically, a dog—except, in this particular instance, I did not want a dog.
I said that wrong. I wanted a dog; at the time though, a dog was not ideal. He was working full-time, I was working full-time. I was going to school full-time, his side jobs took up a lot of his time. The amount of time I had was not ideal for a dog, it would just be unfair to him/her. And I stress the time I had; I love my fiance but I have been with this man (now going on 10 years) long enough to know that when it came to the everything a dog required, I knew very well it was going to be mostly my job.
Either way, at the end of the day, it was not my choice. We were finally getting a dog because, well, he decided we were getting a dog. So we started shopping—not literal shopping, I don't want a bunch of activists attacking me because I said 'shop.' What I truly mean is, he, specifically he, went on Facebook to look through the available adoptions through rescues we have here in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
I used to work closely with one of the owners of Paws for Love, so she knew exactly who it was when we contacted them about this sweet little puppy. And by sweet, I mean, this puppy had the absolute worst picture posted on Facebook but my fiancé was determined to have her. I don't know why; I tried very hard to steer him away. Very, very hard.
Again, I'm not shopping, but I wish very much I had saved the picture they posted, because maybe others would understand what I saw in this dogs eyes.
A week later, after he went to do a meet with her, after he set up a drop off time, and he negotiated a 'trial-adoption' (because she was a special case), the dog was being dropped off Thursday night for us to meet.
When someone hands you a puppy, I don't care who you are, you should be happy or excited or feel this immense sense of relief—of what? I don't actually know, I just know for a fact that I felt it. And I didn't even care that she pooped on me.
She was so terrified that she pooped herself in my arms the first time I met her, which may be an indication on how the rest of my night went... But I had a puppy in my arms, so it was ok.
We bring her downstairs and outfit her in a harness and collar. We try playing with her, we try to befriend her, we try and try and try and try...
We decide to go on a ride. We buckled her in (everyone should, btw) and go on a nice drive, and at the end of the drive when we come home, we felt like we had accomplished something. In the few hours we had her, maybe she started to trust us. Maybe we managed to chisel through that hard, scarred exterior.
No. No, we did not.
We get out of the truck (please note: she has a harness and collar on) and we steer her towards the gate to get to the backyard, and we were so close. He locks his truck. It makes a noise as he comes around the corner.
She is gone. And we are now standing there, filled with panic. This dog was given to us for a 'trial-adoption' and we couldn't even make it 24 hours with her.
We had the entire neighborhood out looking for her. And I mean everyone. Anyone who was walking, driving by, who I knew lived in the area, I stopped and asked for help. Long story short, we did not find her. It was close to 1:00 AM before we gave up for the night. You don't really want to give up but at some point, you need to. You need to recharge, regroup, and well, let her do her thing as well.
So we are asleep; it's 5:30 in the morning. Most people should be asleep. Except, my future mother-in-law is not. She was praying to her mother who had passed away many years before. But in this family, her mother was very persistent when she wanted to tell us something, even if it was just 'hello'.
Well, Alice answered her daughter, and my future mother-in-law jumps out of bed, quickly changes, and runs outside. She has no clue why, she just does.
She stands at the end of the driveway, the streets are quiet and somber. The street lights are still on, the moon is hidden, and she can't for the life of her figure out why her mother wanted her out here so badly.
She is about to give up and walk back inside, and eventually she does just that, until she sees these beautiful blue eyes out of the corner of her eye. Stunned, she doesn't know what to do. But this puppy just walks down the sidewalk with no care in the world because, for now, the world is quiet.
She eventually pulls out her phone, calling us to come outside. He goes (I didn't want to crowd her) and he manages to steer her in the house. This puppy trots inside as if it's her home, she grabs a drink of water as if she had done it a hundred times before. She has a bite to eat, and then he takes her downstairs. She jumps up on the bed with me, snuggles in, and falls asleep.
I was afraid to move. I remember how unfamiliar the weight of her was on my leg. I remember trying not to breathe too hard in case I startled her. But she never moved, and we slept for hours.
My fiancé and I, while we were out searching for her, had decided that maybe we really weren't ready for this responsibility. I mean, for us, this was a trial. If we couldn't handle a dog, then how were we to handle a child in our future?
Except, when she came back, that dog quickly turned into our child. She is timid, fears people like the plague, goes into shock when she is a situation she is uncomfortable with—honestly, the list goes on. And all I wanted to do was protect her.
Within a day, she was home. Within a few days, those adoption papers were signed. Within a week, everyone in our household fell in love with her and her sassy, spunky, crazy personality that people rarely get to see.
It breaks my heart sometimes; she is such a happy dog at home when she is protected by those four walls. It breaks my heart thinking about how abused she was, and I know there are so many dogs who have been.
Daphne Tiabeanie "Bean" Stevenson (I know, it's stupid but we love her) has come such a long way in such a short time, but there are still things we are working on—walking can be a struggle (everything spooks her and she likes to dart), and she still can't do any tricks (besides sit). Her kennel (which we never actually put her in) is her safe space, and she acts out if we take it away from her (thinking she doesn't need it anymore). She can be very protective of her space (there are a total of three dogs in the house and she does not like it when they come downstairs into her area).
BUT we can take her to my parents' houses and she is fantastic. We can play fetch for hours in the backyard and inside the house. She talks (she is fluent in boofing, snerting, and howling). She is sassy and huffy if she doesn't get her way. She loves butt scratches (quickest way to her heart, I promise). She loves the water (she would swim for days if she could), and she recently started to enjoy hunting with her dad (she gets very upset with her father when he doesn't bring back a bird).
I know it isn't much and it is only one dog's life, but I believe that she has had a fantastic life with us because she ended up picking us. I know for a fact that she has helped the two of us tremendously. We are kinder, more patient; she helped us battle our insecurities while we helped battle hers, and we are still always progressing. It's amazing what a little kindness can do all around.