For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed reading the bumper stickers and various car magnets that can be spotted on the highways and in drive-thrus of my fellow pet lovers. Things like “Doggy on Board”, “My Dog is Smarter than your Honor Roll Student” or “I (heart) my (insert breed here).” My favorite saying is one I only really came to fully understand this past week. “Who Rescued Who?” I’ve always gotten the sentiment and admired the rescue stories of friends who found their beloved four-legged family members from a rescue. To say that defines how I feel about our new addition, Sarah (St. Sarah Grace Basset-George to be exact), is an understatement. When we lost our two Basset Hounds, Sydney and Shelby, all in the span of seven months, our family felt a bit lost and a lot grief stricken. The boys asked daily why all our pets are in heaven. I couldn’t walk past the pet food section at Target without breaking into tears. We dined out a lot – being home in the kitchen without the deep gaze of a hound begging for a handout was too much to bear. A colleague suggested that I check out rescue sites for my beloved Basset Hounds, telling me I was destined to open our home to another furbaby. I was skeptical, determined I would let the boys get another pet someday in the way distant future. Well, my head said that but my heart led me to the rescue pages for the Basset Hound Rescue of Old Dominion (BROOD). I was on their site and Facebook just to “window shop” but one night there was a face that made me burst into tears. I was in love almost instantly – and knew right then and there being a Basset mommy was as much a part of my identify as being a daughter, sister, wife and mommy to my two-legged babies. While that sweet face on the BROOD site was not meant to be, nothing short of serendipity (and what I am fully convinced was a little divine intervention) sent sweet Sarah into our lives.
When we entered into BROOD’s adoption approval process (which I fully expected to take weeks if not months to complete), I had no vision of the dog that I wanted to bring home. We preferred a girl of course (living with three human and one feline boy certainly helped cement that preference for yours truly!) and I hoped for a dog that was young enough to have some puppy play dates left for our active boys. Our adoption coordinator, Monika, who I fondly refer to as our Fairy Godmother, seemed to intuitively know who we were looking for. Within 12 hours or so of that meeting, I had a photo of a young girl that looked like what dog would result if you mixed my two beloved girls together. Shelby’s tan coloring and milky eyes and Sydney’s freckles and classic Basset snout. While I never set out to get a clone of ether of my girls, if there were a hybrid of them, Sarah would be it. I don’t know how many people agree to adopt a dog without meeting them first – but when I called Sarah’s foster mom, Renea – and felt as thought I had known her for my whole life within five minutes of our phone conversation – I knew Sarah was meant to be.
Within a week of that fateful meeting with Monika, Sarah was on her way from Renea’s home to join our home, which was literally aching to be filled with the clickety clack of doggy feet again. Within 15 seconds of being let out of her transport crate, she hopped up into my arms and promptly planted a kiss on my nose. Her place is my heart was suddenly cemented forever.
Rescued as a stray, Sarah needed some help with housebreaking, something Momma Renea had quite obviously made a great deal of progress on. On her first day as a member of the George house however, Sarah found a quite interesting spot to make her first, ahem, mark – directly in front of the dining room curio that houses both of her sisters’ ashes and framed photos. An homage to her Basset sisters perhaps – but for us it was just another in a series of signs that Sarah was sent our way from our angels at the Rainbow Bridge.
It has been a week since Sarah’s arrival and it seems like she has lived with us forever. We are all completely smitten with our sweet girl and she knows it – and the loving gaze and continuous wag of her tail tells us that she returns the sentiment. Obedience training and some additional housebreaking are definitely in the cards for our somewhat mischievous pup – but we are confident that she is well on her way to being an upstanding canine citizen. It may be hard to believe that a house filled with two young boys could need any type of energy infusion but Sarah’s arrival has filled our house with a much needed energy and love. To hear my four-year old’s prayers to God go from “Please send back our dogs from heaven,” to “Thank you for sending us Sarah,” and to see the glee in my six-year old’s eyes each instant he lays eyes on his dog are just gifts I can’t articulate a gratitude for. And while Sarah shares some personality traits with both Shelby and Sydney – another “God wink” that our angels are watching over us – she is distinctly her own dog and well on her way to creating her own distinct legacy in our family.
The other gift that Sarah has given us is a connection to some of the human angels that are part of the BROOD rescue. Our adoption coordinator who traveled an hour one way to meet us and spent tireless emails securing the adoption for us. Sarah’s foster mom, who spent 90 minutes on the phone with me, sharing stories about Sarah, her rescue experiences and various other anecdotes, then sending daily photos of our girl in the days before her transport to us. The transport coordinator and other transport volunteers who scrambled and gave up parts of their entire weekend to get our girl home to us. The countless other volunteers who work so hard every day to rescue these pups and find them their forever homes. These are angels we will never forget – and hopefully friends we will have for a lifetime – all thanks to an ornery basset hound named Sarah. Who rescued who? I think that answer is pretty clear.
This song – one of my favorites – came on the radio on the drive home with Sarah. It means a little something different to me now. 🙂