Bless Your Heart: Adopt Don't Shop
Words by Mary Alayne B. Long
Illustration by Eliza Bishop
Once upon a time, my family had three dogs—a poodle, a pomeranian, and a chocolate lab. They all snuggled in bed with us each night, and life was simply wonderful. The Long Family Ark was full….or so it seemed. That was until my handsome Prince Charming had a vivid and moving dream about his aging uncle. He woke up to announce he was making the two-hour drive to visit and headed out the door. Mr. Long is not prone to sentimental gestures or sudden decision making, so I knew this was something he felt strongly about. He called after his visit to advise me he was closing out his day with a visit to the hunting camp. He and his late father spent many afternoons hunting together with Uncle Ed, so his decision went right along with his overly-maudlin mood. He phoned again not long after to tell me he had picked up a bird dog on a dirt road and was taking her with him to the house. She was starving, so he fed her the Thanksgiving leftovers from the refrigerator, made her a big bowl of water, and walked out into the woods for the afternoon. He sat for hours by his favorite field at Moon Lake, all the while secretly hoping she would be gone when he returned.
As you’ve likely guessed by now, that hungry dog was still sitting there when he got back, and he couldn’t bear to leave her. She laid calmly in the back of his truck all the way home and stayed with us for the night. She was petrified, and it was clear someone had been cruel to her, so I spent most of the evening right beside her petting her and talking to her sweetly. We agreed we couldn’t keep her but decided to clean her up and find a good home for her rather than risk her fate at a shelter. The next day I loaded her up for a visit to our vet, and he ran after me yelling, “Do NOT spend more than $100 on that dog. I mean it!” Clearly he had not made many trips to the vet. I smiled and told him she absolutely had to have a bath and a rabies shot if she planned to bunk with our other four-legged children for the time being and assured him I wouldn’t go over budget.
Later that day our vet shared the bad news about our new friend (who, by the way, only weighed 38 pounds and could barely walk). She was not only covered in ticks but was also infected with the ever-dreaded heartworms. The recovery was long and difficult and would definitely cost more than $100. I started crying, because I knew we would never find a home for her while she was sick, and I dreaded telling my husband. When he walked in to see me (who by the way never shows emotion in public) with a tear-stained face, he knew it was bad. I explained the entire situation, along with the anticipated cost, and out of the clear blue sky, the good old boy I married (who is as rough and tumble as they come) started crying too and said, “Call them back and tell them we will save her!” The vivid dream and the visit with Uncle Ed, combined with the hunting expedition that carried him straight down memory lane hand in hand with his Daddy, had him in a loving, nostalgic frame of mind I had never seen before. Saving that dog is the most pleasantly surprising thing he has ever done as long as I’ve known him.
I am pretty sure our vet bought a lake house by the time we had Molly on the mend, but it was well worth the effort. These days she is eating, running, jumping, and living a fairytale life. In the last two years I have gone through two pet hair vacuums and have learned to keep a lint roller in every room and every car, and we have all abandoned any hope of owning black clothing ever again; but she has nuzzled her way into all of our hearts and has found her place on the big bed with everyone else. She is, without a doubt, the most grateful member of our family, and I am thankful to her for teaching me there’s always more room in the ark.