Saturday: October 27th, 2018
So, Ranam releases and I travel stateside on the 26th of October and somebody (not going to name any names) wonders if we should “foster” a dog. I had to put down Figo in 2017 and while I like the idea of a dog, I don’t know if I am ready for one. Even though, I know foster doesn’t mean foster (I mean who can live with these cuties and not adopt them?), I decided to go with it. Erin, the one who shouldn’t be named, was talking to the great folks at PAWS for a while and based on our travel schedule, etc, they had figured out a couple of dogs that could most benefit if we fostered them. Post lunch the very next day (Jetlag? What’s that?) we show up at PAWS Atlanta.
For those who are not familiar with PAWS Atlanta, check them out RIGHT NOW. They are a no-kill shelter that provides love, care, and basic training to enrich the lives of orphaned dogs and cats until permanent, safe homes are found. Their foster program allows them to rescue more animals, and learn about their pets in real settings before they go up for adoption. What an amazing approach right? Yup. One hundred percent awesome! I would love to do something similar in Kerala, but that’s a topic for another day.
So we show up at PAWS and I immediately go for another golden retriever. I don’t stop to think and I think my heart is already sold on this lab/retriever that I see as soon I walk in the door. I was trying to recreate that love I had for my first dog. But here comes the person I am not going to name again, who says, “This is my first time picking a pet and I want to pick one together…” It was the fair thing to do and even though I was super sulky, I let her pick. Only to thank her later for always making the right decision.
Over the next hour, we ended up walking almost every dog at the shelter. Now a day at PAWS is never without excitement. There were so many training classes and numerous volunteers who were there that weekend. I am sure they can always use more help, so for those who are curious, again, check them out RIGHT NOW. We ended up seeing a couple of dogs taken home to be fostered while we there, but sadly no dogs or cats got adopted over that hour. I know. Sad. But wait, the happy part is coming. By this point, we had walked about five dogs and both of us couldn’t agree which one we were going to start fostering. Laura, the lady who pretty much runs all of PAWS, wanted us to foster two elderly dogs that always went everywhere together and while we wanted to be able to love those guys together, the scar from losing Figo was still too strong to care for another elderly dog.
So just as we were about to leave, in perfect movie fashion, in the last cage of the bottom row, we saw this beautiful white dog. Her name read Juliette. For those of you reading this and thinking, “Well, that’s a real human name for a dog“, that is exactly the thought we had too. This dog was the kindest and sweetest little thing. Curious, playful, but also super well behaved. In an animal shelter, there is so much commotion and noise from all the animals coming together to bark and meow that it’s almost deafening. But even amidst all this craziness, Juliette was super silent and well behaved. Erin decided we would foster this dog and from the moment the dog got in the backseat and curled up to go to sleep on the ride home, I knew there was no going back. The below photo is the only one I have from that day of us walking her.
Juliette (who we now call Julie) was brought in to PAWS as a puppy, adopted out, and then found five years later back at PAWS again. They tried numerous times to get in touch with the initial owners but they were unable to. Sad huh? I guess this is the story of so many animals. So many of them need our time and love.
Imagine having all the things you wanted to do when you get a dog: “ I’m going to take the dog for a run. I’m going to hike with her. We’ll play tug-of-war. I’m going to let her off its leash and she’ll just going to come running back to me. I’m going to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie with my dog. ” Well. With Julie… all that came true.
Then one day, we got a call. In early January. There was a family who wanted to see Jules. They were thinking of adopting her. Our hearts fell and it took us one night to decide we were not parting with this dog. We called in and said we were going to adopt her. Probably one of the biggest moves our lives, considering that our travel schedule would completely be ripped apart.
I loved Figo. With all my heart. When I got him and he had to be taken back in for observation because of possible heartworm, I was heartbroken. Figo brought the entire family together. He was a sense of purpose for both me and my dad. I didn’t think that I would be able to love another dog like I loved Figo. But here I am.
Then, I stop to think about it. Julie too was giving me a second chance. She had been adopted and then somehow found her way into our hearts. Yet, she was just so trusting. So full of love. How is it that dogs just trust humans without any reservations? From the midnight snuggles to the early morning walks to the crazed running through the woods, there is nothing we want to change about this dog. She became family.
With the times so crazy right now and the global rhetoric being so tense, I need something to bring me calm. To me, the bond a human can create with a dog (or any animal) is reassurance that a basic good in the soul of our world exists. How else is it that we form such trusting bonds with another being that cannot talk to us? How is it that these animals love us wholeheartedly without condition? How is it that they wait, day after day for us to come home and each time they are more excited than the last? How do they keep this up?
They teach us so much. To live each day to its fullest and what it means to be loyal and trusting. What it means to be a friend. But for me, over everything, they remind me that life is short and while here all we can do is enjoy it and deal with it one moment at a time.
All I can say to them is … thank you.