Two years ago, on September 25th, I opened my home and my heart to a snuggly, fuzzy, snorty, flatulent little animal named Sushi.
When I moved to Montana in 2008, I promised myself that when I finished school, I would look into adopting a dog. My mom has allergies so we never had a dog when I was kid (we had turtles and hamsters … just not quite the same). I knew that I wanted to adopt a pet from a shelter; I wanted to give an abandoned, lonely, down-on-their-luck pup a new forever home. However, I had a problem. The apartment building I was living in at the time had a strict ‘no pets’ policy and every shelter in town wants a landlord’s signed consent before they will let you adopt.
I had had a particularly stressful day at work, followed by a long day at school and when I got home, something made me pick up the laptop and peruse craigslist looking for a dog. I came across an ad, advertising a playful Puggle (pug and beagle mix) that was in need of a good home. There was a fuzzy picture of the blondie and I figured it couldn’t hurt to drive the hour outside of town to take a look. I hopped in the Jeep, picked up my good friend Cody and headed out to meet, though I didn’t know it at the time, the love of my life.
The story the woman had painted for me was a prettier picture than the truth. She had explained to me that she, her son and Sushi had moved here from Florida a few weeks ago and she is having a hard time finding a place she can afford that will accept pets. She is currently staying with her father, who is allergic to the dog, so Sushi gets to stay outside. All the time. In the hot sun. Tied to a tree. When I got there to see her, she had at some point drank all the water out of her bowl (or it evaporated) and the dish was bone dry. She was scrunched up in the only bit of shade the tree afforded her. When the woman released her from the leash, she ran across the yard to do her business, then ran straight back … into my arms. She didn’t try to jump up on me or lick my face and chew on my shoes, she just nuzzled into my legs and whined until I pet her.
I had already made up my mind that this was my dog. She was coming home with me and that’s that. THEN the woman’s son came home, he couldn’t be more than 9 years old, and the way he treated Sushi … I have never had a stronger urge to punch a child. He threw his toys at her face, tried to shove her into a pond, dragged her around by her collar. Much to my amazement, Sushi tolerated all of it. Didn’t snap or snarl or growl, didn’t try to run away, didn’t even yelp. I cut our conversation short, handed the woman her “re-homing fee”, told her son to stop abusing MY dog and called to Sushi. She hopped right into my car and into my life and we’ve both been the better for it.
Look at her. 3.5 years old, happy as can be and SO skinny! You can see her spine and all of her ribs. When I would walk her or take her to the dog park, people would look at me like I was the abuser–not the rescuer.
I wasted no time in bringing her along on all my adventures, taking her to edit my schoolwork, bringing her grocery shopping, taking her on drives, hikes, bike rides, doggie dates, etc. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand to leave her home. We quickly became co-dependent; I would take her to the coffee shop down the street and leave her with my friend while I got drinks, I’d come back outside to a report that she wouldn’t stop whining until she could see me again.
There is nothing more gratifying than coming home to her after a long day; she is ALWAYS excited to see me. She is a snuggler by nature and LOVES to sleep in, she puts up with my photography projects, is always ready to hike … or crawl back under the covers. She is an incredibly quick learner and I love her to pieces. Even my boyfriend understands that he comes in second place in my heart; she and I have formed a bond I never knew could exist.
She’s a good mover.
She’s a fantastic adventure buddy.
She’s always there when you need her. (Bonus: This is my FAVORITE picture of my Dad and my dog. He came up to MT to stay with me for 6 weeks when I had knee surgery #5 last year; they were immediately best friends.)
She got to experience snow for the first time two winters ago. She thinks it’s a treat and loves it when someone lobs snowballs for her to chase and devour.
She likes to be with me at ALL times. As a matter of fact, she is curled up on the couch with me as I write this, snoring away.
She’s naturally photogenic.
Have I mentioned her need to be with me …
While I may have rescued Sushi from her neglecting family, I didn’t realize until later just how much she rescued me. I am in a much happier, calmer place than I was two years ago. Sometimes, I would want to spend the whole day in bed and just ignore the world. There were entire weekends when I didn’t even go outside. Granted, there are still some days we stay in the house lounging in pajamas all day, but when I wake to find myself using her butt for a pillow or there’s a paw in my face, or she has once again stolen most of the blankets, I can’t help but smile. She gives my life meaning each morning. She motivates me to keep my house clean, to be active and healthy. She reminds me to be relaxed and easygoing, to take time out to play and time in to recharge. If I didn’t have her to cuddle up to at night, to hold when I’m sad, to talk to when I’m alone … she has done, and is still doing, great things for me.
Two years ago may have been the only time in my life that driving to Corvallis was a good idea. I went out there offering a good home and big heart and got so much more.
She doesn’t come without baggage, though. In the way she shies from your touch if you reach down towards her too fast, it is evident that she has been beaten/had things thrown at her. In the way that she winces and yelps when anyone other than me plays with her ears too long or too roughly, it is evident that she is used to having them tugged on violently and often. And yet, she runs up to strangers, loves to be loved, is constantly finding a lap to sit on or a car to jump. If this little dog, who has gone through so much, can forgive and forget, why can’t I?