Adopting a third dog?

The other day I was jogging at a nearby greenway in Nashville. This particular stretch begins/ends near the Metro Animal Control office, so, as I’ve done before, I stopped in at the end of my run. I figured since I have time, why not drop by to say hi to the doggies.

I strolled to each fenced-in dwelling, chatting with the four-legged guests. It wasn’t too long ago I came across an energetic dog named Bailey. I sat with her for awhile, and they even let me play with her outside for a bit. She was a great dog, yet my heart didn’t feel a tug. I knew she’d be adopted soon so I had no inclination to adopt her. This time around, a whole different story!

In a stall next door to the one Bailey was in (she’d been adopted by now), was a boy dog named Pharaoh. I knew I was in trouble because my heart felt a strong tug! He had blue eyes, and a spotted pink nose. He was mostly white with a few big brown patches. They said he was an Australian Shepherd mix. I learned this when I chatted with the workers there as I was on my way out. I was also told that Pharaoh was available, darn it! And he might be deaf! Well, now I just wanted to be the hero that saved him! Couldn’t they have said he has a history of biting people’s faces? He walks upright and drinks beers? He loves to pee on carpet? Maybe he’s pro-choice or something? Anything that will deter me from wanting to adopt him!

Anyway, I left to finish my jog and head home, all the while feeling that tug on my heart. For the rest of the afternoon I went over in my mind what kind of changes another dog would bring. Two dogs is one thing, but it seems like three is a whole new ball game. I researched. Mostly the adjustment was financial, but also there was a 10 or 15 year commitment to grapple with. My two dogs (Piper and Asia) are 8 and 6, so adding Pharaoh as a 1-year-old would extend my guardianship quite a few years. I decided to pray about it the rest of the day, research, sleep on it, and then see how I felt in the morning. Along with what I was feeling, I also knew he’d be adopted pretty quick because he was a beautiful and seemingly well-behaved dog. In fact, before I had even met him, there were two other families who put a “hold” on him but after 24 hours, their claim had expired.

I went to bed thinking I’d go visit him the next day, no matter what my heart was feeling when I woke up.

The next day I made my way over to the shelter mid-afternoon. I said I was there to pet the dogs. I also asked about Pharaoh. You see, I was still curious but if I’m being honest, I knew this time– in my heart– it was not my task to make a home for him. Although he would be a great dog, I’m sure, I felt a peace that he was meant for someone else. Well, when I asked the woman, she said he’d been adopted… THE DAY BEFORE!

Yeah, the same day I met him! A few hours after I left, he was gone! It’s so funny to me that once I got home after meeting Pharaoh, not knowing he would be adopted that day I prayed and prayed, I thought and thought, I went to bed hoping for clarity, then awakened with an inkling of a feeling, but still praying and thinking. Meanwhile, Pharaoh had been with his new owners for half a day already.

My prayers had been answered before I even prayed them. Pretty amazing! When I was told he was adopted, I didn’t have a feeling of regret, no anxiety about missing out, I was just happy for Pharaoh. Hopefully he now has a great home to run and play and be loved in. And meanwhile, me and my little pack of three are very content as a triple-threat 🙂

-Out of the Wilderness

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Routine

In the summer of 2000, I worked at Kanakuk Kamps in Lampe, Missouri. In fact, I worked there for that summer and the next two. One of my favorite parts of the camp was the kitchen. Talk about good food, the cooks there were good at what they did. However, on days I wasn’t in the mood for “Frito Love,” there was peanut butter and jelly. Not secretly my favorite sandwich of all time. One day, as I sat down with a couple of sandwiches in my normal seat at the middle table, the director of the camp said to me, “creature of habit.” He was referencing how I chose to sit in the same spot pretty much every single meal. He was right on the money. I guess I never realized how routined I was until he said it. And routines are a good thing. They provide stability, normalcy, a way to measure growth and progress, and as was my case at the camp, safety and comfort. I began working at this camp without knowing anyone. It was far away from my family, and all of my friends. So having my place to sit and eat meals became familiar. And I can’t think of anything more important for a person who feels out of place than familiarity.

Fast forward to 2009, and I was still that same creature of habit. Between balancing work, friends, and whatever else came up, I developed a routine that worked. I started my job at nine, worked out at the YMCA during lunch, and went home at six. Then in December I got a puppy. Hello new routine.

If I could quickly offer some advice, when you’re considering puppy adoption, do it! And also, do it in the spring or late summer. Training a dog in the winter is cold, exhausting, and cold. I learned the hard way that I was slower at putting on warm clothes at 4 A.M. than she was at making yellow puddles. So adopt a dog, then buy some carpet cleaner. My dog’s “accidents” became less and less frequent, however, when I learned the most important ingredient in training, routine. Through establishing a routine, I got better (and more) sleep, and she learned to hold it till she was outside. Routines are a good thing.

We are all creatures of habit and even though we may stray a bit on day to day activities, our weeks, months, and years will highlight an overall routine. And that’s a good thing. It means you are stable. Just remember, there’s a fine line between routine and rut. So have enough of a routine to feel safe, but every so often shock the system by sitting in a different spot.