Today marks the one year anniversary of my Madison's death. I celebrated by crying a lot, looking at pictures, and visiting the SPCA and checking out some dogs. I told myself going in that I wasn't going to being anyone home with me today but secretly I was hoping that one of them would whisper to my soul, saying "I'm yours. I've been waiting for you." I met 3 dogs that I considered for my family. I had narrowed it down to 3 pretty easily. These were dogs who's signs did not say "aggressive towards children" and whom didn't bark madly at me when I came in. I'll be returning tomorrow with my fiance to take a closer look.
While I was there I read signs that told me a bit of their backstory. Sign after sign reading "owner surrender" "new baby" "moving" "too loud" "too big". Imagine visiting an orphanage like that. It broke my heart. For me, my dogs have always been a member of my family. I could never surrender them to a possibly horrible fate just because my life circumstances changed. No more than I would give away my children.
The first dog that was ever "mine" came from an MSPCA in Brewster near my childhood home. She was an amazing yellow lab, golden retriever pup who changed me in unexpected and wonderful ways. I picked her out of all the puppies because when I, a painfully shy 7 year old, sat down in a kennel full of puppies she calmly crawled into my lap for snuggles. It turned out the reason she was so calm and cuddly was because she had parvo, a disease that usually kills puppies. We got her the veterinary care she needed and she lived a well mannered, long and happy life with us. I cannot imagine taking her back because she was sick or ever abandoning her. She sang to my soul. I looked at her and she was instantly mine, from then until she went home to the rainbow bridge.
When I was 15 I met the next love of my life. My family went to visit friends in VT, as we did every summer, and a good friend of my mother's, Joy, had recently gotten 2 young rottweilers. One, had been planned and purchased from a breeder. Another, had been brought to a local vet to be put to sleep when her owners could not afford her eye surgery. Joy and her daughter Juli paid for the surgery and Joy took her home. Again, upon meeting her, another dog sang to my soul. I begged my parents and their friend endlessly, until finally with the agreement I would take her to obedience school they relented and let me take her home. I'm sure that once or twice when stepping in massive dog piles in the backyard they may have rethought it, but Madi was immediately a member of our family and we held her close even as she died.
My family has always had rescues. From our one legged dog Venus, one legged cat Sam, to my dad's "street dog" Polly. We've always kept anything that "followed us home". I don't think I could ever buy from a breeder when I know how many animals are displaced every year by "owners" who somehow change their minds.
If you think, within a shadow of a doubt that you could change your mind about a dog, don't take them home. Get a fish, see how that goes. Or maybe a house plant.