Paw Prints on My Heart
I started to say that I’d found a dog, but the truth was… she’d found me.
I had just left the school, along with every parent in the county and was mozying down the street at the snail’s pace required by law.
A big beautiful golden dog began walking in front of my car, so I stopped. She stopped as well, and looked straight at me. Then she came trotting up to the front of my car. The cars were piling up behind me. There was oncoming traffic. She sniffed the front of my car a few times and stood there staring at me. In the middle of the road.
I got out, opened the back door and said, “Let’s go!”. What else was I to do?
Her entire body wiggled with excitement. She ran over to me, and jumped in like she was mine.
My plan was to pull over to safety, get the dog’s name and address off her collar, and take her home. Oh, the best laid plans. She was so excited. She was bouncing around the back seat as much as an 100 pound dog could bounce, trying to lick my face, and crawl into the front seat. Her happiness was contagious. I couldn’t help but smile. Having no luck getting a glimpse of the tag, I managed to unhook her collar. Alas… no tag. I knew not this happy dog’s name, nor from where she’d come. I scratched her neck. I think she fell in love.
I called the hubster. What the heck do I do? I was due back at work in 30 minutes!
He asked if I was intending on keeping her…
My baby before babies was a Collie/Chow mix named Drexler (after the great Portland Trailblazer, Clyde Drexler). He went everywhere with me. When we’d go to the river, he’d swim out to me, and I carried him around like a baby. He held a special place in my heart, and he always will.
It took nine years before I was ready for another dog. I still miss Drexler, but one thing I don’t miss is having his blonde hair on everything I own!
When the time came, our family got a dog… a non-shedding doodle.
Now here comes this dog into my life. I didn’t know the breed, but boy did she shed. I looked like I was wearing fur pants and sleeves. And to top it off… she STUNK. She appeared well-fed, she had healthy teeth, and her ears were immaculate (yes, I checked). But she was in desperate need of a bath.
My head was not interested in keeping this dog, but my heart was beginning to lean.
I called the Humane Society. They asked if I could keep her overnight. I thought of my couches. Is that shallow? I told them I’d prefer not to. Maybe I was really afraid that 24 hours with this dog would take our relationship to a level I couldn’t part with. They suggested I bring her in. A drive to that part of town at 4pm would take no less than an hour both ways, making my return to work late and pointless. They gave me the number to Animal Control, who could pick her up at my office and take her to the shelter. Perfect! I called. Not perfect. They had no one available to pick her up.
If I took her home, Abby the doodle and this happy, go-lucky, golden dog would have a hay day. The kids would surely try to talk me into keeping her, and my house would be covered in hair and full of her stench. But, I could feel myself falling.
I headed towards my vet (my awesome, fantastic, wonderful vet). My new friend held her head out the back window like a champ. At each stoplight, she’d snuggle me.
We arrived at the Neighborhood Pet Clinic, they scanned her, and… woohoo… found a chip. Her name was Bella, a Chesapeake Retriever.
I waited with Bella and visited with customers in the waiting area. Everyone loved her. But not as much as she was loving me.
She crawled into my lap. That sentence doesn’t do justice… more like, she climbed on top of my entire body. And just sat there, completely content. She rolled around my feet. She nudged me and kissed me. I ran out to my car for something, she was ecstatic upon my return.
After much researching, the owners were found.
The vet began to take Bella to the back, so I could finally go back to work. Bella was slipping and sliding on the floor, fighting to get to me. It was heartbreaking. I went over and loved on her. I walked with them to the back, but she just kept fighting to get to me. I had to give her a little shove through the door and then shut it quickly.
Then I left quickly. It was SO sad! My heart was heavy, and I knew the potential tears were just below the surface. This stinky, shedding dog interrupted my day for only an hour and half, but had nestled into a part of my heart before leaving.
Was it worth the missed hours at work, the dry cleaning bill, and the time to clean and deodorize my car? Yes.
It’s amazing how fast humans and animals can bond. If only for a moment, she was my Bella.
Everything in life is a lesson. Frankly, I don’t know what the lesson is to be learned from this. It could be a simple reminder that I don’t want a shedding dog, so I can stand my ground when the kids and husband start begging for a dog. Or maybe it’s something bigger. To remember to let life be interrupted, and to feel. After all, what is life without feeling?
What a beautiful story Stephanie, beautifully written. Brought tears to my eyes. Lexi wanted me to bring her to see the dog but I knew what her reaction would be and believe neither of us wanted to deal with that. Glad Bella found her home.
Oh yes… I KNOW the reaction we would’ve gotten. Awesome dog. I hope I see her someday :). Ha… sounds like I’m talking about some summer romance or something.