A little more than a year ago, I met the girl of my dreams. That’s her in the picture above, my very sweet dog Ophelia. In this picture, she’d been in this spot for almost two days straight while I was sick in bed, just staying by my side. The last year of my life has been pretty big, with lots of things going on at work and in other aspects of my life, but I think the most significant thing to happen to me was the journey that Ophelia and I went on together.
I’ll start by saying I’m partly writing this post to encourage people to get rescue dogs, when it’s feasible. Having a rescue dog is not always easy. There’s a lot of unpredictable behavior, some apologizing to people, many hours spent training. All the dogs in my family right now (3 in total) are rescues, each with their own crazy little quirks, and I’m pretty sure all of us have wondered at times if we had made a mistake in adopting these dogs. But I think we would all agree that these three little beasties, as troublesome as they can be at times, are really the best things that have happened to us.
When I was looking for a dog, I really wanted a hard case. I started my search looking for a black dog, because I knew of “Black Dog Syndrome” – for various reasons, black dogs are way less likely to be adopted (plus I wear mostly black, so hey, black fur works! ;)) . I knew I had found a very interesting dog when I stumbled on Ophelia’s listing on Petfinder. I watched her videos and I could immediately tell she was super smart, cute, and playful. The first time I met her in person was when her very awesome foster mom brought her to my apartment. Ophelia jumped up on the counter to check out my kitchen reference books (yes, I’m a librarian, so I do have a reference section in my kitchen). Then she rolled over for a belly rub. Then she chomped at me! I was in love.
I saw the pictures of her injuries later – the metal plate in her femur, the way she stood looking at the camera in the utmost despair, pain, and fear. I cried when I saw that picture. I’m still not quite clear on exactly Ophelia’s past is, but I know it was very awful, so I’ve tried my hardest to give her the best life I can. And I’ve been rewarded with the most cuddly, adorable, sweet little dog anyone could ever ask for. What makes me feel even more honored is that she rarely shows this side to people. There are many people who’ve known her for a long time who are still even afraid of her. She didn’t trust me at first either, but now, she sleeps with her body stretched along my legs, or her chin resting over my ankles. Right now we’re in the chin-over-ankle position. And to think, two years ago at this time she was living on the street with no one to love her. I can’t think of a better way to have spent the last year of my life than on Ophelia.
It wasn’t always easy to come this far with her, but every challenge has been worth it. So again, I urge you, if you can, to get a rescue dog! There is nothing like the love you will get from such a dog. I’ve had many dogs, so I can say this with authority – you will never feel love more truly or deeply than from a rescue dog once you earn its trust.