What made you feel like you had finally become an adult? Was it something like turning a certain age, moving away from home, finishing school, landing your first job, making a thoughtful donation to charity? For me, it was becoming a parent — to a crazy beagle named Toby.
Ten years ago, I got my first real job, reporting for a newspaper in rural Connecticut. Not only does everyone in those parts have multiple pets (not including livestock), but as a city girl, I was a bit unsettled by all the unfamiliar sounds late at night when I was all alone in that big barn apartment. (Was that a raccoon on the roof, or an escaped murderer?) Plus, I had always wanted a dog.
Through Petfinder’s classified listings, I connected with a young woman who had adopted Toby from a shelter a few months earlier, then realized she couldn’t give him all the attention and exercise he needed. I took the hyper guy home for a trial weekend, but it wasn’t until I brought him back and he wouldn’t leave my side that I committed to keeping him for good.
Toby is a fantastic dog, especially with young children. Even kids who are scared of dogs gravitate to him, and he does lots of philanthropic work cheering up crying children on playgrounds and Santa Claus lines. But it’s obvious how he ended up in a shelter: he loves to run and run and run! He has the prey drive of a beagle, but the athleticism of a greyhound. That first year, he pulled dozens of escapes that would make Houdini scratch his head, seeking adventures that would make Snoopy proud. One afternoon, while he was leashed on the dog run line, I looked out my window and caught him and the neighbor’s Lab mix teaming up to slip each leg out of his harness! Another time, he found a gap in a fenced dog park, and I ended up having to borrow a machete to cut through thickets of brambles to get to him, trapped at the bottom of a gravel pit. (All the Lassies are rolling over in their graves.)
Even now that he’s 11 years old, the sight of a squirrel or the faintest whiff of a cat can send him racing around, dodging and weaving and howling for an hour. Ironically, he also has separation anxiety, and can’t stand to be left alone in a car or outside a store for more than a few minutes. What a crazy dog!
Nevertheless, Toby has been the best, most loyal friend ever, over an extremely eventful decade: three cross-country moves, two major career changes, a wedding, the birth of our son (his “little brother”) and now as we await a little sister. We can’t imagine life without him! When the inevitable happens — hopefully still at least five years away — I will be a complete wreck. But as Dhanya’s story yesterday illustrates, I will eventually treasure the memories… and in the meantime, it’s a reminder to really appreciate all the good times we still have together now.
We’d love to hear your pet adoption experiences, too. Share them in the Comments section, on Facebook and Twitter (#GiveTogether #Animals).
While waiting for our final adoption story tomorrow, check out our previous posts about this month’s Give Together projects for Animals: Reading With Rover’s therapy dogs, the Snow Leopard Trust’s big cats, and the Woodland Park Zoo’s baby giraffe. For just $10/month, you can join a growing community making a big difference — and will receive an impact report within weeks, showing our collective giving at work. Every little bit counts, and helps.