Some of you might be reading this substantially because a dog is involved and is essentially the star of the show, in the case of Zach and my life as well. You also might be wondering what I mean by my choice of phrase, “Adopting meant forever” before I even knew I was going to spend forever with Zach. It went a little something like this…
I am one of those lucky people who experienced love at first sight… but it wasn’t with my now husband, it was in fact with a squishy little black and white puppy whom we now call, Lucy.
Call me crazy, and I guarantee I have people who will relate, but I like dogs more than people. So, when Zach and I decided to get an apartment after a year and a half of dating, I knew this was the beginning of my evil and always successful plot to get a puppy. Just ask my poor parents who had to put up with 23 years of me bringing home animals unannounced. Don’t worry I started small with my hamster Buttercup, then came Skippy the turtle (whom I found at the Phoenix zoo… that day mom taught me stealing is justified when the turtle is out of the lake and about to get stomped on), then about 7 or so beta fish, a mini schnauzer named Sadie (who lives with my parents because my dad is attached), and then a bunny named Charlie (whom shockingly never bit anyone.) FINALLY, I was in my own place and could get a puppy of my own to raise! I just had oneeeeee personnn to convince…. and if you are wondering, I tried, “baby pleassssseeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!” Man would not budge, so I was left with the option that always worked best when my parents said no… and then a miracle happened….. he said, “We can go look.”
*cue ugly happy dance and over excessive hugging
However, (and men it isn’t your fault that you do not understand this about women), but when we or someone else says, “Let’s just go LOOK” it usually 100% always on a probability scale turns into a buy, or in this case an adoption.
I will remind everyone at this point that we were not engaged and had been living together for three months. Although, what happened next, meant we were already married.
Zach, his mom Jennifer, and myself all gathered in the car and drove to Phoenix where we were going to look at a puppy I had seen on the internet. She was being fostered after she was rescued from a kill shelter and according to the foster mom she was ready to adopt her if she already did not have 5 dogs. I needed to act fast. We all walked through the door and the ding of a bell alerted the volunteers in the back, “Come on in, we have been expecting you!”
At this point Zach reminded me, “We are just here to look, having a dog is a big responsibility.” I knew he was right, but I wanted a puppy so bad, and this sounds crazy, but I wanted Zach to be the dad. Okay, I didn’t think it was corny until I typed it and read it aloud. Nevertheless, I kind of have this thing called puppy radar and know immediately when a cute creature is nearby, but I couldn’t see her. Then, crawled up in a little 4 pound ball in the corner of a kennel, shook this little fur baby.
It was love at first sight
Her foster mom took her out of the kennel and placed her on the floor. People, if you can keep from smiling when a puppy is stumbling around, tripping over itself, and trying to ***boop a toy, then you are truly strong and probably not human. And poor Zach knew the inevitable, and that from there on out, he was outnumbered by females. “How much!?” I couldn’t get it out fast enough. “250.” Then, with her in my arms, I handed her over to Zach who looked colossal compared to her 4 pounds of delicacy. “Can we get her?”
And then the word every girl who has ever lived wants to hear… “Yes.”
Then, with two checks, half from Zach, and half from me, we signed forever together by adopting our fur baby.
Lucy a year later, and three days before Zach and I moved into our new house, she had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on her paw. If any of you are pet parents you know that when anything happens to your fur baby, it is devastating as we tend to think of them as children.
*At this point Zach and I had been engaged for three months.
Zach and I had taken her in for a yearly routine check up and had mentioned the small red bump on her paw. The Vet mentioned that it was almost too small to try and get a tissue sample from and test under the microscope, but she would try. A half hour later she came into the room without Lucy. “It’s cancer, I am so sorry.” I didn’t process it right away because I immediately looked at Zach, and his face said everything I was holding in. In just three months time Zach had to hear the word Cancer involving myself, and now Lucy; it wasn’t fair.
At that point I went into business mode, asking questions, scheduling the surgery, soaking up the after care information if the wound could not be closed during surgery.
Zach stood in the corner staring at the white tile.
After a while the Vet brought Lucy back into the room and Zach held her with no intention of letting go. Honestly, at first I was angry, not at Lucy, but I suddenly thought about my phone call to Zach a couple months back when I found out. He was shocked no doubt, but he seemed so much more calm in that situation, than now. But then I thought about myself just moments ago, ready to put aside everything I felt because Zach needed me to be the one to step up, just like he did when I got the news about myself.
And through Lucy’s diagnosis, I learned the first thing about marriage. It is give and take. And this little creature just brought us closer to understanding that primeval part of this thing called, being a family.
High school English teacher, Arizona State University, blogger.