Monday, January 17, 2011

My life in Stitch's: The Beginning of the Journey

Sometimes we think we know exactly what we want.

We daydream and fantasize about it, and believe so much that it’s the perfect “something” for us, that we go so far as thinking that it’s already ours. It could be something material like a car or a house, or a some-“one”, like an ideal mate. But whatever it is, we go through the sometimes-futile exercise of owning and loving it in our minds.

In my case, it was a dog.

I decided a few months ago that I was ready to get my own dog. I love dogs. I grew up having them around, but none was ever really mine. They were either family pets or were dogs who belonged to other people close to me, like my sister or my best friend. This time, I wanted one that was mine. All mine.

And just like that, the door opened up for me to adopt a little Havanese through one of my work colleagues. The timing was perfect – he was looking for a home, I was looking for a pet. For all intents and purposes, Dash was the perfect dog for me. He was just turning one so he’d essentially “grow old with me” (his birthday is 3 days before mine), he weighed less than my purse (so very portable, which was one of my stipulations), he was a rescue (I didn’t want to buy a dog), and he was the cutest little ball of fur! We had our first “date” – at his foster mom’s home, from where we took a nice little stroll through his neighborhood park.

He frolicked; I followed. He sniffed other dogs’ butts; I didn’t.

By the end of our date, I was convinced that Dash was the dog for me. I let his foster mom know that I was definitely interested and she suggested I submit my application through the Havanese Rescue group that was handling his adoption.

The adoption process through the rescue group was rigorous: a 4-page application, 3 references, vet resources, and a nice fat check (if the adoption was approved). I got all my ducks in a row and submitted my application as soon as I could. I was determined to bring Dash home for the holidays. I went as far as getting him a plush new pet bed, a harness, and a retractable leash on Black Friday, braving the cold and the crowds! I even began to puppy-proof my room.

As I waited for the adoption decision, they discovered that Dash’s liver enzymes were elevated during a visit to the vet. At that point, they basically put the adoption process on hold until they could find out what was wrong with him.

“They think he might have a liver shunt. At the very least, he will need to be on a special diet for the rest of his life. If it’s really bad, he may have to have surgery,” his foster mom explained. That didn’t matter to me. I was enamored of Little Mr. Dash.

While I patiently waited for Dash, there was another little puppy development brewing. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, my best friend and I were out all day shopping, preparing for the week’s oncoming feast. We had hit up at least 4 different stores and were on our way home when she caught sight of Big Lots! along our route home. Now we don’t normally shop at Big Lots! so I don’t know what prompted her to say “Let’s go check out what they've got!”

It was getting late, my feet ached, and I was generally fatigued, but I agreed to make one last stop. We pulled into the parking lot and were getting ready to hop out of the car when a large pick-up truck pulled up behind us. The driver, a woman who looked to be in her early 40s, was signaling to us. As we got out, we realized what she was trying to do.

“Do you guys want a dog,” she asked. And in her arms was a somber little puppy with eyes that looked in opposite directions.

We walked closer to her truck to make sure we understood her correctly. She seemed to be in distress, thin with dark circles under her eyes. She looked like she had just been crying.

“Do you guys want a dog,” she repeated, this time with desperation in her voice. “We have to get on a plane tomorrow morning and we can’t take him. We don’t want to leave him at a shelter or the vet because they might put him down. Do you want him? He’s a really good dog. He’s a Shih Tzu. I paid $600 for him. He’s only 4 months old.”

Inside the pick-up truck were the woman’s two young daughters, neither older than 10. They too, begged us to take their puppy.

“His name is Stitch. He’s a really good boy. You can keep his name if you want,” one of them said, on the brink of tears.

As we did a quick survey, BFF and I noticed that the pick-up truck’s bed was filled with plastic bags of clothes and miscellaneous things – as if the woman and her daughters had just upped and left. Foreclosure? Eviction? We may never know.

After praying with the family for a circumstance we knew nothing about, and a tearful goodbye to their beloved Stitch, BFF and I went home with a little Shih Tzu puppy, with the intent of keeping him for a few weeks until we found him a good home.

"Let's just get him through the holidays," was our mantra.

Stitch - the day after we brought him home. This was supposed to be his "Adopt Me" picture.

Through all this I still wanted Dash. I conveyed to the adoption team that I was willing and able to take care of a dog with special medical needs. Dash’s foster mom sang my praises to the adoption committee. My best friend even wrote a lovely letter of recommendation on my behalf, enumerating all my lovely doggie-aunt qualities and how I would then make a wonderful doggie-mom.

But sometimes, things don’t work out as we plan.

In the end, the adoption process for Dash just became a fruitless pursuit. Besides the liver issues, they discovered some behavioral issues that prompted the rescue group to remove him from the adoption list.

Yet there was Stitch, this loving little puppy at home just wanting to belong and needing someone to call him her own once again.

And that’s when I decided to adopt the little guy.

He wasn’t my first choice, but in retrospect, he is the perfect dog for me: he’s silly and affectionate, but not clingy or needy. He’s playful and energetic – the quintessential “dog’s dog.” To quote a line from (I’m pretty sure) some movie, “he’s everything I never knew I always wanted.” And thus began “my life in Stitch’s” … and his in mine.

Yes, sometimes we think we know exactly what we want.

But the story of Stitch just reminds me that the God who knows me better than I know myself is watching out for me, and still delights in giving me the desires of my heart – even better than I can ever hope for.


  1. nice intro post! can't wait to read more of the adventures of you and "puppy head"! ;)

  2. Welcome to the Family Stitch!

  3. Aww that brought tears to my eyes! I never knew this is how he came into your life.