It was a chilly day in May 2014 when Erica and I made the trip to an animal rescue located in a small town a little over an hour from our apartment. The drive seemed like it took days. We had been full of excitement, and lacked patience knowing that we were about to pick out a puppy who would spend the rest of its life with us but wouldn’t be ready to bring home for another week. Nonetheless, we were still pretty ecstatic to meet our soon-to-be dog child.
During the few months prior, we had stopped in at multiple shelters and rescues looking to find the perfect dog that we could take home. None of the animals really seemed to share that connection you have when you know it was meant to be, and so we continued to look. We also ran into the trouble of rescues not letting us adopt due to the fact we lived in an apartment and didn’t have a fenced yard. This was frustrating. We knew that we could provide a great life for any dog regardless of not meeting the rescue’s criteria, but it didn’t matter. Some of these places seemed to be willing to hand over a dog to anyone who owned a house and fence. You could run a dog fighting ring in your back yard, but as long as the yard was fenced, feel free to adopt as many dogs as you’d like! If you would treat the dog as your own family and raise it with the utmost care and love, but lived in an apartment, forget about it. You obviously would never take it outside of your small living quarters to run and play.
With my mom’s many rescue connections because of her job as an animal control officer, we were able to visit this last rescue knowing the apartment thing wouldn’t be an issue. We pulled into the drive, and as we got out of the car and approached the front door of the house, we were greeted by a kind woman and three happy dogs. They had seen us pull in and took us right into the garage where the rescued dogs were kept. Multiple areas in the garage were closed off with small fencing to create separate pens, and each pen contained anywhere from three to six puppies of different breeds. Some were ready for adoption, and some were even younger with a few weeks left to go. In each pen, there was an area boarded off full of cedar chips for the puppies to potty train. Each pen also contained a few boxes full of blankets where the pups could hide in and sleep.
As we walked through the garage, we came to a pen containing six little black lab mixes. Three boys and three girls all doing their own thing. Unsure of how much interaction we were allowed, we waited for the woman to tell us it was okay to get into the pen with the dogs. We then opened the gate to step in and were suddenly rushed by the most enthusiastic bunch of little wagging tails and floppy ears. Erica – never having a dog for a pet while growing up – squatted down as the pups jumped all over her, and with the biggest smile on her face, began to soak up every second of playtime.
While we played with them, we pointed out what we liked about each of their tiny, individual characters, and which one we thought would be right for us. Two of the boys were very energetic, jumping all over us and biting at the key lanyard hanging from my pocket, while the third boy was more calm, laying on the blanket in the box. One of the girls was the same as the two boys. Lots of energy and a fascination with biting human fingers. A second girl was the same as the one boy laying on the blankets, just relaxing like no visitors were there to see them.
And then there was the third girl. Not too rambunctious, and not too lazy. She seemed to love playing with the empty toilet paper rolls strewn about the pen, and enjoyed stretching on her hind legs while resting the front two on your lap to reach up and lick you on the face. This one particular pup was full of kisses, and so full of love. Her markings compared to the others made her even more unique. She was solid black with patches of white on all four paws, her chest, on the front of her neck, and a grayish-white chin that made her look as though she was an old dog that had already lived life to the fullest, but living it in a puppy’s body.
As we held her in our arms, she looked straight into our eyes, soaked our faces with kiss after kiss, and we knew that she was the one who would be coming home with us in a week. We continued playing with her, and it just felt like it was meant to be. I don’t remember how long we stayed to visit our new baby, but Erica and I both had a hard time leaving her there when it was time to go.
The next week dragged on, and with a whole new excitement, we drove back to the rescue to bring Ella home with us. She whined at first, but it didn’t take long before the lull of the moving car rocked her to sleep.
It’s been almost three years since that day we brought our puppy home, and Ella has lived the best life a dog could ask for. She gets to go to the dog park on a regular basis, rides everywhere in the Jeep with her head stuck out of the window, goes on trips to the mall, swims and dives for rocks, goes camping, sleeps in our bed every night between Erica and I, and so much more that you’ll definitely be hearing about during the life of this blog. We didn’t know it at the time, but the day we brought her home changed our lives forever. Imagine yourself as a piece of clay on a potter’s wheel. You meet many people in a lifetime who will help shape you into who you are and what you will become. It’s absolutely amazing how one animal so full of love, and yet so full of simplicity, can take that drab vase you’ve become and add a color and pattern to your life that you never knew existed. For us, this is who Ella is.