My New Best Friend
Last fall, when I was in the midst of a very painful depression, my brother and sister in law suggested I get a dog. The idea stayed with me–surprisingly given my personal history with canines.
Growing up, our family pet was my grandparents’ dog Teddy. A French poodle whose bark (or rather growl) was as bad as his bite, Teddy lacked the warmth for which most dogs are known. I nicknamed him Cujo–as in the rabid character from Stephen King’s novel of the same name–that’s how unfriendly he was.
Years later, I became intimately acquainted with larger canines when I dated a guy whose world revolved around short-haired pointer Miles and Weimaraner Jasmine. As crazy as it sounds, they became an obstacle to the relationship. My ex never stayed over because of them, while Jasmine was visibly jealous and possessive (Miles and I, however, bonded over being third wheels). When we were on a road trip, he called out “there’s my beautiful girl.” Imagine my surprise when I turned toward him and realized the compliment was directed not at me but at Jasmine.
Because of that canine-induced drama, I swore I would never get a dog. Ironically, it took another man to completely reverse my thinking.
As soon as I met this guy’s beautiful white mutt Zoe, I knew that she was a different, more loving breed of animal. In getting to know and love her, I also found myself feeling a surge of longing toward dogs I passed in the street.
Knowing that I wanted a rescue pup, I visited two NYC shelters and a pet adoption fair–with no luck.
“You don’t choose the dog, the dog chooses you,” Zoe’s dad told me.
He also encouraged me to look on Petfinder.com, which was how he had found Zoe. That’s where I discovered Benji and applied online to adopt him.
A few days later, a lovely woman from Second Chance Rescue called me. The road to adoption would include a phone interview, providing two references and a virtual home visit. I was both impressed and heartened by her obvious care and commitment to finding pets a good second home. I can’t say enough good things about Second Chance.
The more that I heard about Benji, the more I felt–even without meeting him–that he was the pup for me. Especially because of what happened upon receiving the good news that I was approved to adopt him.
I had a dream about my late, beloved parents. Benji was in it too, happily roaming around our family home, getting lots of love from Mom and Dad. It was the first time in a while that I dreamt about them. I knew in my heart they were saying Benji was indeed meant for me.
When I went to pick him up, he came right to me, jumped into the car with no fuss, then slept all the way home (probably tuckered out from his journey up here from Georgia). And just like that, this 19 pound bundle of shih tzu sweetness stole my heart.
Over the last week, every day with Benji has brought a joyful new surprise. Playing fetch with him. Curling up on the couch together. Sleeping side by side. I understand now what so many people have told me over the years about the unconditional love and comfort that a pet gives you. It’s so wonderful coming home to my little guy. He brightens up every day and is already teaching me so much.
I feel so blessed to have Benji. He’s everything I wanted in a dog and more—including being a great traveler. I have a feeling that on future trips, pet-friendly is going to top the list of amenities I look for!
Welcome home, Benj.