I am the type of person that likes all her ducks in a row. I love checklists, calendars, and have multiples of each. I do not like surprises even if they are meant to be good surprises. I like to plan, as if you couldn't tell. However, in January 2013, I had a few unexpected surprises.
I was working at a local animal hospital as a receptionist when a very overwhelmed client appeared at my desk. She had been in with her dog Lexi numerous times in just a few months and here she was, again. She and I had built up a great rapport over the years and she was able to speak freely with me. She mentioned the allergy issues, the expensive foods, the dog dermatologist, the weekly injections, and the many costly medications. She then made a very classic comment, "She is so expensive we may have to give her up." I say "classic" because as a receptionist in an animal hospital, I have heard this a number of times. They are almost always just words of frustration and this woman's words could have been just that. Though for some odd reason I asked her if she were serious. She was a bit taken aback but said, "Why? Do you want her?" Hmm, now that was an interesting thought.
Let's back up three years.
Our dog Bear died of lung cancer in June 2010. We were so torn up over his loss that we vowed never to have another. Our hearts were so broken we were not even willing to entertain the idea. To us he was the perfect "child". He was with us from three months old until he passed away at 9 years. During my years at the animal hospital Bear was all I talked about. He even came to work with me each day. Everyone knew Bear and they all loved him too.
One night in January 2013, my husband and I were talking about our future. We had high hopes of living in Germany again but he had applied for everything and nothing had happened. Our hope for that was lost and we had to think about other possibilities. Included in this discussion was the idea of a dog. If we were not moving overseas then there was nothing but our pain holding us back. I commented that Bear's German dog trainer had once said, "When you think about getting a dog, ask yourself why you want the dog? Is it for self? Or does the dog need you?" It reminded me of another saying that I re-worded. "It's not what the dog can do for you but what you can do for the dog." My final comment on the whole idea of a dog was, "If we do get one I would love for it to be a female German Shepherd."
So there we were, with a client in my office who was overwhelmed with the costs and the growing list of to-dos. Prior to this encounter I don't think I paid too much attention to her dog Lexi. I had distanced myself completely from clients' dogs. That was my way of dealing with my loss. Had you asked me to describe Lexi I was more apt to be able to describe their other dog, a Boarder Collie named Isaac.
As the owner made that comment I began to notice Lexi for the first time. She was a female German Shepherd. I couldn't help but laugh out loud and of course I had to explain myself. "Just last night my husband and I were talking about the possibility of a dog." I told her the rest of the story and I asked her how serious she was about giving her up. She said it was on the list of things she and her husband were going to discuss when he returned from out-of-state. I told her I, too, would have to discuss the idea with mine. It was only a "we'll consider it in the near future," not something we were ready for right now. She and Lexi left but within just a few minutes I received a very interesting phone call.
Her husband called and I was fortunate enough to have no one in the office that needed my attention. He felt it was very important that I realize just how much Lexi meant to them. They would make it work with her if they had to, but the sudden offer of a potential home was interesting. He relayed his thoughts about me, saying that he really felt he knew me by how open I had always been about my life and our dog. He knew my heart for Bear and was sweet enough to say, "If we do this, I cannot imagine a more loving home for her to go to."
(8/1/2015 I wrote to the previous owners for permission to share their part of this story. Here is what he remembered of this phone conversation.
"I remember exactly where I was in January 2013 when I called you from DC and the relief we felt when we knew that a great and heavy burden would soon be lifted from our shoulders. I can't emphasize this point enough (and I'd love it if you could include it in the blog) - the ONLY reason Lexi is not still living with us is because we deemed you and Shawn suitable parents. I told you this on the phone that day and I stand by what I said - if there was any indication that you and Shawn were considering taking her to a pound should she not work out, we would've never given her to you. It broke my heart to rehome her as I felt we were giving up on her (like her first family did), but I know that this was an answer to prayer for both us and you guys. It could not have worked out any better.")
There is so much more to this story yet no way to put it into one blog post. I think it will have to be a two-parter...at least. The picture above is of our beloved Lexi. I took the photo in our backyard. In Germany.