Last week our post dedicated to the memory of our puppy Oliver marked the one year anniversary of one of the saddest days Wendy and I have experienced (but trust me when I saw this is not a post about being sad). It was a difficult time, for sure, but left us with an even more difficult decision. We had adopted Oliver in May 2009 with no idea what to expect, and we dedicated a year and a half to bringing Oliver into our lives and ultimately fighting his cancer as best we could. His loss was not unexpected, but left a significant void in our lives nonetheless.
Without a puppy to wake up to, come home to, feed, walk, pet, play with, or just generally enjoy, we both felt very lost and our home felt very empty and quiet. Ollie was a huge part of our life and a huge effort, but an effort that was entirely worth the investment. We knew we wanted to adopt another puppy, but we were unsure if we were ready to fill that void right away, or if we should wait for the pain to subside a little bit. We had talked it over and felt it best to wait for about six months or so, just to recover a little from what we had been through with Ollie as well as wait for Spring to arrive, as it's much easier to potty train when it's warm outside.
In the days following Ollie's death we were shadows of ourselves. We weren't really hungry, thirsty, happy, or interested in anything that we normally liked. We filled our days with general chores, cleaning, or laundry, and all of the sadness would come back when we would uncover a bone, toy, or trinket not yet packed away. As it turned out, the only respit for Wendy's grief was the thought of providing a home to a puppy in need. Therefore, without my knowledge, she was spending hours browsing around on PetFinder.com looking for puppies in need of adoption. If you don't know about Pet Finder, and you are mildly interested in animal adoption, don't go there unless you have a few hours, you literally get sucked in and can't help it.
At one point I came downstairs and saw Wendy sitting in the family room chair on the laptop. I said "Hey, what's up?" To which Wendy replied suspiciously, "Nothing." I immediately knew something was up. As it turned out, "Nothing" actually meant, "OMG I FOUND THIS TOTALLY CUTE PUPPY ON PETFINDER AND SHE TOTALLY NEEDS US TO ADOPT HER RIGHT NOW SHE HAS SUCH A CUTE SQUISHY FACE AND SHE NEEDS US, SHE NEEDS US RIGHT NOW, HER NAME IS LULU AND SHE NEEDS US SO BAD, SHE'S A PUG AND SHAR PEI AND SHE NEEEEEEEDS US RIGHT NOW, I HAVE TO FILL OUT AN APPLICATION ONLINE AND THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING RIGHT NOW!!!!"
This is pretty much exactly what that "nothing" was. Which is why my response was "No, really. What are you doing?" Wendy came clean and told me her plan, showed me the super cute puppy that just needed us so badly, and went on with the application process, even with a little of my help if I remember correctly. But, given our various conversations about waiting for about six months, I think that you can imagine my surprise.
Let me take a bit of an aside to tell you something about Wendy. I'm going to put this out there for the world to see, and I hope she's not too upset, but Wendy is not
, ahem, a patient person. There, I wrote it, it's done.
Wendy is the half of our partnership that wants it done and would prefer that it had happened four hours ago. She likes to start house projects before others are complete, then gets upset about why things aren't moving along faster. I'm sure this will open the door to future posts penned by her that hint on my unbearable slowness and ridiculous amount/length of delay, and how she's actually quite patient, but I'm rather slow. It's true, I may be slow to complete things, but don't let her fool you for one second.
How does this specific trait impact this story? Well, two days into our six month countdown to getting a new dog, Wendy was filling out an application on a rescue website to adopt a sweet dog that needed us above all other people. The picture of patience. The thing is, Wendy's impatience is a trait she embraces, and it is often the yin to my yang. Sometimes (and this is difficult to admit but I'm in a sharing mood today) this is the push or nudge I need to just make the leap and go for it. Without this trait I'm sure we wouldn't be as far along in our renovation projects, have been to as many places on our travel checklist, or accomplished as much in life in general. And for this very reason, I knew it would be much better to embrace Wendy's rescue application efforts. Besides, given our difficulty adopting Ollie, it couldn't possibly be approved...right?
So Wendy sent the application on a Thursday night for this precious year and a half old shar pei - pug mix, and got a message back the very next day from the Mutts Matter Rescue (while we were out at happy hour celebrating Ollie's life with neighborhood friends). On Saturday we excitedly gave them a call back to see what was going to happen. Unfortunately we were told, "Thank you for your application, but unfortunately Lulu already has another family that will be adopting her. But we have your application on file so we can contact you with new rescues." We were a little dejected, but we understood it was a long shot, but we didn't know how long of a shot it was. But don't get me wrong, we were happy she was being adopted, but sad she wouldn't be coming home with us. Apparently, in addition to the current rescue family, Lulu also had some 29 other applications submitted to rescue her. Yes, 29 families had expressed interest, and it wasn't Wendy sending 29 applications either. But is it any surprise? Just look at the photo of her that was on the website!
We completed the phone interview anyway, so that we would be pre-approved in their system. When we talked to the rescue we told her what had happened with Ollie, how we were interested in Lulu, but if it wasn't meant to be, that was okay, and that we would probably be looking more around springtime to adopt. We hung up and didn't think much of the conversation beyond our disappointment but acceptance that it didn't work out.
Apparently, behind the scenes was a little different matter. The rescue called the references that we put on our application, including Ollie's regular vet, Dr. Jennifer Farrell, and his oncologist, Dr. Elsa Beck. We're still not sure what was said during the conversations, but as we understand it was more or less, "If these people want to adopt a dog, give them a dog to adopt!"
After the fact, hearing this was the opinion of Ollie's vets really made our day. After all of the effort, trials, and tribulations, it felt great to know we had done our best and had gone above and beyond.
All was quiet until the day after my birthday (yes, it was a bit of a solemn birthday) when Wendy called me at work. She had received a call from Mutts Matter that said they had spoken with our vets, received glowing recommendations, and that Lulu's adoption has fallen through. She was at a foster's house, but that foster could only keep her one more night. We had been moved to the front of the list, and if we wanted to meet her and bring her home that night, she was ours to adopt.
Whoosh, like the air was sucked out of the room, but in a good way. We couldn't believe it. How had we gone through so many ups and downs in the span of just a few days? We had to make a decision, and Wendy said "It's not up to me alone, and even though it's sooner than we discussed, I think we should drive up to Maryland to at least meet her tonight."
I agreed 100%, so we headed up to Gaithersburg almost as soon as we got home from work. With traffic and the early sunset, it was dark when we got to the foster's house. We walked to the front door and were greeted by the foster's dog and Lulu barking a bit as a welcome. Our first impression was how cute she was, and how much smaller she was than what we expected.
Ollie was so forward when we met him, jumping around, biting, playing, getting in everyone's business, but Lulu was the polar opposite. She was quiet and reserved, very shy, took at least 10 minutes to let Wendy touch her (even with Wendy bribing her with chicken treats), and actually about 30-40 minutes before I could pet her.
She had been through a lot and was a bit skittish and unsure, but was so sweet once we sat down on the couch and she warmed up to us. We didn't want to try to replace Ollie in any way, we wanted to adopt a dog that was completely different, and it looked like she was as opposite from Ollie as a dog could be.
After about an hour and a half of interacting with Lulu, and seeing how she was with other animals, people, and us, we decided to take the plunge and adopt this sweet little girl that Wendy decided had absolutely needed us.
We got home, took her for a walk around Old Town before getting her settled at home, and the rest is history. It was a true whirlwind of emotions, especially following the emotions that surrounded everything with Ollie only a week earlier. Here she is, the morning after we brought her home, on her first walk in Old Town to see the Potomac river.
Just like any puppy, the first little while was some work, but it was work that we absolutely enjoyed. Everyone who interacted with her absolutely loved her, and everyone seemed genuinely happy for us that we took the plunge and adopted again. We even took her to Ollie's oncologist's office at The Hope Center to meet all of the people who cared for him.
Now one year later, we know we made the absolute right decision, and that luck (and perhaps karma) was on our side in allowing us to adopt our wrinkly-faced ori pei. She's a true and essential part of our family and we're so thankful for the chain of events to have happened they way they did, for our pets' veterinary staff to say such glowing things about us, and to Mutts Matter Rescue to both take in Lulu and to allow us the opportunity to adopt her. We're so happy to have her, and we think she's just as happy to have us.
Tonight we'll be taking Lulu to one of her favorite local stores, The Dog Park, to pick out one of her favorite treats. As she laps up her doggie ice cream (in peanut butter flavor of course), we'll celebrate her one year adoption birthday and officially recognize the date she became an official member of the Old Town Home crew.