Thursday, January 2, 2014

Haddie Love

By now, you've probably seen me post an obscene amount of pictures of our newest family member, Haddie Sue (or Haddie...we just added the Sue because it's cute). However, you probably don't know the story of why and how we added her to the family. It was a case of the stars aligning perfectly, and I can't tell you how happy I am that the universe was in our favor.

I've always had dogs--as a kid, as an adult. Marty and I got our first dog literally THE day we returned from our honeymoon. Rex was a Boston Terrier puppy, and he was my first true puppy love.  He was with us until last year, when we had him put to sleep because of complications due to congestive heart failure/old age, and let me tell you--he was my BABY. As in I treated him like one for many, many years. During infertility, when I couldn't mother a child, I "mothered" him. That dog could sense my every emotion. I can't tell you how many times I literally cried on his shoulders--any time I cried, he would just come and sit next to me. He just knew what to do. Having him put to sleep was literally one of the most difficult, painful things I've ever done--ever. That process is just...well...unimaginable.

Rex had a "sister"--not from the same parents, but only four months younger than him. Darla was our 2nd Boston, and she was Marty's dog.  She was the runt of her litter, and was "mis-marked", meaning that her markings weren't typical Boston markings, and nobody wanted her. I met her breeder at a gas station in Versailles, and the minute I saw her, I knew we had to have her.  She came into our house that first night, all 2 pounds, if that, and took over the house. She showed Rex who was boss immediately. I was afraid we would accidentally step on her and crush her--she was about the size of a smaller guinea pig.  She was spunky, feisty, outgoing. She would surprise you with some serious face-lickage; she would start wagging her nub-tail, and if you made eye-contact with her, she was on your face in .02 seconds.  She was fiercely loyal to Rex and stood up for him many times; she HATED all other animals. She was spoiled, and stubborn. In the end, we had to give her up because she didn't adapt well to us having kids (we had our dogs 10 years before having children, so that transition was tough for both of them)--at all. Another horrible day in my life. We still tell Darla stories to this day. She was one-of-a-kind.

Unfortunately, when we had kids, our dogs who were used to a LOT of attention from us were forced to settle for maybe 1/6 of our attention. Our kids, being preemies, were pretty needy; daily walks and play sessions were put aside.  They were both pretty bitter about it, and rightfully so. I still feel guilty about their last years with us--I feel like we let them down. They were used to more. They deserved better. After we put Rex to sleep last year, we decided it would be awhile before we got another dog. The kids were plenty to manage; adding a dog to the mix was just not in anyone's best interest.
However, in the last few months and specifically the last two weeks, two things had become clear:  I missed puppy love and had been feeling the need to "mother" something again (can't have kids, why not dogs?), and our kids, in the short year that Rex has been gone, have become terrified of dogs. The only cure for their severe phobia was just to get another one. Marty and I had talked about it; I was ready, he wasn't.

I have a friend, a friend I met through another friend.  Amy Thomas is the PR Director at Woodford Humane Society in Versailles. After spending time with her and hearing her passion for her workplace and animals in general, I "liked" the WHS on Facebook. And then...the stars aligned.  Right before Christmas, Quantrell Cadillac did something incredibly generous. They vowed to pay the adoption fees for any animals adopted between then and the new year. So--all animals adopted were FREE.  Because I know and trust Amy, and because I knew I wouldn't be able to have just any dog, I contacted her and got the names of some dogs that would be good for our family. We needed an older dog (don't have time to dedicate to a puppy) who was very good with kids. Preferably, we wanted a calm dog, since our kids were scared of them. Amy generously gave me some names, we chatted some more, and then the day after Christmas, I decided to go out there and have a look.

When I got there, Beth (an adoption counselor and humane education coordinator) greeted me. I talked with her a bit about our needs and my conversation with Amy, and she suggested I go check the dogs out, gave me a few names, and told me to come find her.  Walking through the dog area at WHS isn't like walking through the dog areas of other humane societies. The animals there are HAPPY. They wag their tails, they get excited. They don't have that horribly desperate, almost wild look I've seen on the faces of dogs at the humane society in the past. These dogs are LOVED. They are cared for, and it is obvious. I'm not knocking other humane societies here--I know that it's a difficult job and funding and man-power are limited; people do the best they can. I'm just stating a fact about WHS. The people who work there love the animals. And I don't know about you, but adopting an animal that knows love--well, that's just a good thing.
I saw many dogs that I know I could've easily taken home and loved, if our family situation and needs had been different. There's the ginormous baby boy named Johnny Cash--a big pit bull who is just clearly a big ol' love-bug.  There's Lucy, who is precious and sweet (but doesn't care for other dogs).  I fell in love with them all. But when I saw Haddie and her monstrous ears, her sweet waggy tail, I knew I'd found my baby.

WHS has a great "foster-to-adopt" program. This allows you to "foster" a pet, to take it home and see if it's a good fit for your and your family. If it doesn't work out, you bring the pet back for someone else to adopt. If it IS a good fit, you go on to adoption. I decided to give Haddie, a seven-year-old dog from a family with kids, a try. I went there with NOTHING--no leash, no anything for a dog. I filled out the papers and told them I'd pick her up the next day. I went and bought all of the dog necessities--bed, leash, treats, etc.  The next day, I went to pick up that sweet girl. I knew she was a keeper when we were sitting there, waiting for the paperwork in the crowded reception area. She didn't try to jump on any of the people; she didn't pull at her leash. She simply looked at them and wagged her tail. She leaned into my knees. I fell in love.
She has been a DREAM dog. My Bostons, loved as they were, were high-maintenance dogs. They were demanding and high-energy ALL of the time. Haddie is...well...all things opposite. She never, ever jumps on anyone. She just wags that tail like crazy. She loves to be with her people. She seems to instinctively know that the kids are a little leery of her; she is very calm around them. She doesn't jump on furniture unless she is invited to do so; if you don't invite her up, she's content to lay at your feet. She is trained--knows all her basic commands and is completely house trained--and she is the epitome of manners. There is nothing bad I can say about her. She's amazing. I could not be happier--and I mean that. Even Marty, who was hesitant to get another dog, loves Haddie Sue. It's hard not to.

If you are in need of a new pet, I cannot recommend WHS enough. They are fabulous. This month, they're doing a "Single and Lovin' It" theme--they have some animals who need to be "only-children", meaning they need to be the only pet--and the adoption fees on these animals are waived. Seriously--you need to go. You'll feel the same love that I felt, and chances are, you'll leave with a new fur-baby-love.

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