Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lucy's Adoption Story

Pet's name: Lucy
Adopted by: Katherine Burns-Christenson and family
From: Minnesota Boxer Rescue

Lucy's story originally appeared on (DOG)SPIRED, a blog dedicated to dogs and the people who love them. 

I was rescued by a rescue dog. Actually, our entire family was rescued by a rescue dog. My husband and I had lost our beloved lab mix, Miller, after 10 years together. We grieved deeply. Months later we decided we were ready to add another dog to our family. We researched breeds. We fell in love with the Boxer. We learned their various colors: brindle, fawn, white, reverse brindle, flashy fawn, and so on. We learned about their breed-specific medical challenges, their fun-loving personality, and their clever and crafty wit. We chatted with strangers and neighbors whenever we saw them with a Boxer. We looked at rescue groups, humane societies, and Petfinder.

Then we saw him. Pendleton. A beautiful 2-year-old fawn Boxer boy. We completed the lengthy and thorough application process through Minnesota Boxer Rescue. Neighbors were called. Vet references were checked. We were approved. We waited like anxious parents for Pendleton’s transport from Kentucky to Minnesota to be finalized. Then the call. The shelter had euthanized Pendleton. He was a "“messy eater," the shelter told the rescue group. What? He had an adoptive home! We were stunned. We lied to our children. Pendleton, we told them, was adopted by another family and it wasn’t meant to be. We wondered if there was a reason Pendleton wasn’t chosen to be with us. We leaned on our faith trying to make sense of it all.

Then another call came from Minnesota Boxer Rescue. Would we be interested in a 10-month-old female, white Boxer from Missouri? She was an "owner surrender," we were told. Her family was moving and couldn’t take her with them. She wasn’t completely house-trained, had some basic obedience training, was “hearing,” which we knew from our research was unusual. White Boxers have a higher incidence of deafness. Photos were emailed. She was beautiful. I was smitten. We were smitten.

However, life had changed significantly for our family in the last month. My husband had been laid off work. Money was tight. Time, however, was plentiful. Did it make sense to adopt a pet? Could we really justify the expense and adoption fee? In this economy? With so much uncertainty? We decided yes. There must be a reason Lucy came to us.

We anxiously waited for Lucy at the transport location. She was traveling from Missouri to Minnesota. I knew to be calm. Give her a chance to warm up to us. Ease in. Blew it. I totally blew it. I rushed to her with squeals of glee and gratitude. The children laughed and Lucy bounced.

On the ride home, I watched Lucy chase reflections in the van. She flew from reflection to reflection. Mesmerized by all that flashed and flickered. Those flashes seemed so exciting to her! She ignored our calls. She accepted our touch, licked our faces, and then flew in a flash at a new reflection. The children giggled at her antics. I smiled. I knew now why Lucy had come to us. I’d seen this before, but in human form.

Our oldest daughter is deaf. When my daughter was an infant, I watched her visually chase reflections and be mesmerized by light and colors. We later learned that Lucy had chased the reflections from the aquarium at her foster home. They thought it was adorable. It is! Lucy never consistently responded to her name. Playful and distracted? Typical puppy behavior, or so everyone thought. We knew better. Our daughter had done the same thing. Sometimes responding. Sometimes not. Our daughter, we learned, wasn’t responding to our voice, but our shadow on the floor or wall when we entered a room. Lucy, like my daughter, was using her strongest sense to communicate with the world; her eyes. While Lucy is not deaf, she does have a significant hearing loss.

My daughter was absolutely thrilled to have another person in the family “like her.” Other families might be overwhelmed by such a gift. We weren’t. Lucy fit right in. We started immediately using visual communication with Lucy. She was a fast learner! It’s a lot easier to learn what those humans want you to do when you can crack the communication code with your eyes!

Lucy was my husband’s constant companion during the day while he searched for employment. Her presence buoyed him and I’m so grateful. Lucy played with the children, snuggled next to me while I knit, and made herself right at home, claiming her own chair. Our hearts swelled. She was and is a constant ray of hopeful sunshine and joy. My husband found work. We found unconditional love. Without a doubt, we were rescued by a rescue dog.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

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