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  • by Brenda Gibson

Puppy Love . . .

“Dogs have a way of finding people who need them . . . and filling emptiness we didn’t even know we had.” – Unknown

“That was one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever had to do,” my husband said grievously as he came slowly up the backstairs clutching the well-worn, well-loved collar and leash of our sweet boy Tucker. It was a deeply sad day in our household, having to put down our beloved family dog who had basically grown up along side of our two daughters. He was a loyal companion, furry dress-up doll, walking buddy, confidante when nobody else would listen with a great technique to help you calm down by allowing you to rub his tummy for a limitless amount of time—He will be missed!

I knew something needed to be done. It had been a little over a year and our house seemed quiet, a little too quiet, especially for me! What was once an anchor for our family activities centered around our dog gave way to our girls getting involved with activities and friends outside the house, which is normal for teens. I longed for our family to have another dog that we could center our love and our attention on once again—It was time!

Now, mind you, I knew Tucker could never be replaced, he was our love, our friend and family and of course, a pure bred after all. I was determined to bring that canine kind of love back into our home! I consulted with a friend who volunteered at an animal shelter and she assured me there will always be plenty of dogs who need forever homes, so I began looking at rescue dogs completely different from our Tucker, so there’d be no comparison.

As I sat at my computer for the 3rd straight week in a row scouring over countless agencies, pictures and stories of rescue dogs, I came across a picture of two male dogs who were the sweetest looking brothers. They had been abandoned next to a highway and were aptly named Freeway and Roadie. I honed in on the description of Freeway: This handsome young mixed breed is playful, adventurous, active and comes running when you call him—Completely opposite of our Tucker, whose breed was primarily for companionship and basically a lay at your feet kind of dog.

I got up the courage to make the initial phone call to inquire about his availability and what the next steps were for adoption. It was quite a process with forms to fill out, an in-home visit and of course a chance to visit with Freeway to make sure he’d like us. Did I forget to mention my husband was against getting another dog? He said when our girls leave home, we’d be left caring for the dog. In my defense, I had casually mentioned getting a new dog earlier and he never actually said no!

The mere mention of the possibility of a new puppy to our girls triggered an unstoppable whirlwind that my husband found himself caught up in, which is how my sweet husband ended up in our backyard on one cold, snowy afternoon repairing the gate to our fence, so we could schedule our visit with Freeway. In my defense, I had casually mentioned that all adoptions require a fully fenced in yard quite some time ago.

As all four of us anxiously awaited the arrival of Freeway, my husband kept reiterating to our girls this was just going to be a visit to meet Freeway and maybe this would not be the puppy we end up with, but at least it’s a good start with the agency to get to know us. “So girls, don’t get too excited, this may not be the dog for us . . . we might want to see other puppies,” he said quickly as he opened the door to our basement to greet the woman from the adoption agency.

“Before I bring Freeway in, I want to let you know he’s usually scared around men, because he was abused, so we’ll just have to see how he does,” the woman said as she went back to her car to get him. The excitement was getting to me as she lifted Freeway out of the car and faced us with this wiggly bundle of black shiny fur. As she approached the doorway, our girls were caught up in the excitement too.

Upon entering the basement, she set Freeway on the floor to let him look around. He wiggled his way right up to the girls as soon as they knelt down to pet him. He was one wiggly ball of fur! Then, the real test, would he like the man of the house? As soon as my husband got down to eye level, they had a moment—Freeway took to him immediately or was it really the other way around? I believe this was the day we all fell in love!

It has been almost 7 years since that first introduction to our Freeway, our girls are now young adults and yes, my husband was right, we were left caring for this rambunctious, crazy, strong-willed chewer of anything not bolted down to the ground, kind of dog . . . who’s incredibly cute, loyal, and yes, comes happily running when he sees you!

Freeway was there when no one else was around to see me cry after our oldest daughter moved away and when our youngest headed off for college. He has always been willing to sit at my feet countless times only to touch my knee with his paw when he senses I’m sad. He’s now a great comfort when my husband is traveling, so I’m not alone. Best of all, he has been a walking companion for the very man who insisted we might want to look at other puppies before we make a final decision. In my defense, I knew how this was going to go, but failed to mention it to my husband.

“Dogs have a way of finding people who need them . . . and filling emptiness we didn’t even know we had.” – Unknown

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