A few years ago, I was lost and stuck in a slump.
While facing one of the worst episodes of depression I'd ever had, my life seemed miserable. Things were going wrong at every turn, I was developing a chronic illness, and I was craving some joy in my life. Little did I know that I'd end up with more joy than I could've imagined.
One day; on a whim, I contacted my local pet shelter.
I had what most referred to as 'puppy fever' and was ready to add another four-legged addition to my family. We already had a little sweetheart Maltese dog named Molly, but I was pretty convinced she needed a sibling. A few days later, the shelter called me back to let me know that they had a pup who they thought would be the perfect fit for me.
There she was, the poor little thing. She had been in the shelter for her entire life as a newborn puppy and was in need of a forever home. They told me that she had been adopted and then returned to the shelter a few weeks later. I knew from the moment I saw her that she was going to need a lot of love and healing.
At the time, I needed some love and healing myself. I figured that maybe if I could give her what she needs, she could help me get some happiness back in my life. Instantly, she became my biggest blessing and my very best friend. She had been given several names early in her life, but I named her Rosie Mae. A forever name for and a forever home.
Rosie was a dachshund/spaniel mix, which meant she had a massive overbite, she was short and bowlegged with a long body, and she wasn't the 'best looking' dog out there. To me, she could not have been more beautiful. She was perfect. Something in those hazel eyes of hers that seemed to stitch my heart back together piece by piece.
My first day home!Abigail Flower-Pollard
There is a lot of hard work that comes with a rescue dog.
It's a tough pill to swallow, but you have to acknowledge that a lot of shelter dogs have been abused or severely mistreated at some point in their lives. It broke my heart to see how scared she would get at times. She was a terrified puppy who had no clue who I was or where she was going. For all I know, she assumed that she'd go back to the shelter again. I knew that it was my job to make it known to her that she had found her forever home. I bought toys, bones, blankets, sweaters, and a dog bed as an attempt to bring her some sort of comfort. Heck, I had a spare mattress in my room just for her! I just wanted her to feel safe with me... for her to know that she was home for good now.
She loves nothing more than the wind blowing in her faceAbigail Flower Pollard
From the first night with her, I knew this wouldn't be an easy task.
The moment she got in the car to go home with me, she was attached at my hip. While trying to get her comfortable on her first night at home, I was trying to convince her that the entire spare mattress was all hers. That didn't work. She didn't want to be alone, demanding that she snuggle right up to me for the entire night. Of course, I couldn't say no to that sweet angel face. The longer we bonded, the more I felt the love growing back in my own heart.
Time passed and she got more comfortable with me. Although, there were huge red flags indicating that she was not treated right from her first home. Something as simple as her seeing me grab the broom to sweep the floor. It was like she thought it was a weapon. Watching her tuck her tail between her legs and run off in fear, it shattered my heart. How could someone hurt this precious little baby? From that moment on, any time she acted as if she felt threatened, I dropped whatever I was doing to comfort her.
Rosie and her mini-me, all tucked in.Abigail Flower-Pollard
They don't tell you that rescuing shelter dogs also means trying to reverse the bad things that they've learned.
It takes an incredible amount of patience to teach them that they are very loved. It takes patience on the nights when they cry because they just want to be held. In fact, raising a rescue dog is a lot like taking in a foster kid. You're going to need to have a large capacity of love in your heart because that dog is going to need all of it.
Seeing her personality beginning to form and blossom brought me incredible happiness. She started to act totally goofy and loving. She has her own quirks and traits that she didn't have before. Most people just see a dog, but what I see in her is what I would see in my own child. She's quirky, funny, and she's a dork. Anybody who has ever met her will tell you that it is impossible to be sad around her.
I couldn't imagine life without her. Waking up with those big hazel eyes in my face was my reason to wake up at all.
I see you!Abigail Flower-Pollard
Although there is a lot of frustration that can come along with a shelter dog, there is also so much joy as well. Even though she has accidents from time to time and often gets into the garbage bag, she makes up for it in so many ways. The way she smiles and looks like a cartoon character. The way she holds her chewy bone with both hands. The way she wrestles with the cat and kisses him afterward. The way she knows it's time for 'night night' so she grabs her 'baby' (stuffed animal) and her blanky. Every moment with her is a moment worth living. She's the weirdest little creature, but not a day goes by where I don't thank my lucky stars that she's my weird little creature.
Nap time!Abigail Flower-Pollard
There are so many lessons I've learned about what it means to rescue a shelter dog.
I've learned that dogs give a whole new meaning to the word 'love'. I've learned that dogs give the best hugs and kisses ever. I've learned that someone will always be excited to see me when I walk in the door. I've learned that I will always have to share whatever I'm eating (and that's okay). I've learned that she will always want to lick away my tears. I've learned that life is too short not to let your dogs sit on the couch or on your bed. Last, but certainly not least, I've learned that every dog in every shelter across the world deserves to be loved and deserves to be given a chance.
So, with that being said, I only have one thing to ask of you. Please adopt, don't shop. Your best friend is waiting for you, just like mine was.