Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jay Boogie's Story

Pet's name: Jay Boogie
Adopted by: Josh and Kristin
From: Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester, Fairport, N.Y.

When Kristin and her boyfriend (now husband) adopted their first dog, they named him after a dear friend of Kristin's whom she had lost.

2006 was a year of unplanned, life-changing events for me, a rollercoaster of emotions and relationships. In May that year, I lost my best friend to suicide, leaving me empty, angry, and feeling utterly alone. When I met Jason six years earlier, there was that instant spark where two souls connect instantly, creating a bond of a lifetime, or so I had thought. He was my voice of reason, the expert on relationships, and one of the few people who truly understood who I was. He was the very definition of a best friend who was always looking out for me.

And that's why it hit me so hard that morning in May right before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The phone call with the unexpected news brought a surge of emotions, questions, and some soul-searching. I had lost one of the closest people to me and suddenly had a huge void in my life. Ultimately, I found the strength inside to be positive every day, to try to enjoy the beauty of life that my friend had refused to see, and to promise that I would not let a tragedy direct my path in life.

So I hit the reset button and focused on moving forward. A few months later I started dating a guy I had met online and we were instantly inseparable. Our relationship progressed and one night, the talk about owning a dog came up.

To be honest, I didn't take the conversation seriously as we were celebrating at a friend's wedding, and as my head hit the pillow that evening I murmured to my boyfriend, "Sure, we can go to the animal shelter tomorrow morning to look at dogs." The next morning, I woke up to the excitement similar to a child on Christmas morning waiting to go downstairs to open presents. Only that morning it was my boyfriend reminding me of my promise I had made a few hours earlier and informing me when the shelter opened. I'm one to stick to my word and I thought I would at least humor him by going to look.

We were some of the first to arrive at Lollypop that Sunday morning in October. We walked together up and down the kennels, silently making mental notes of what dog seemed to suit us best. At the end of the hallway of kennels, we turned to each other and asked which of the dogs we were most interested in. We both had fallen in love with the same rottweiler mix puppy called Bam-Bam. Looking behind the wire cage, we had felt the same bond with this then-tiny ball of fur. It was his first day available for adoption and at eight weeks old he was a red-haired brindle puppy with floppy ears and monster paws. “You know he's going to get big, right?” my boyfriend said as we filled out the paperwork to visit with the puppy. Having grown up with a bichon frise, I thought, "What's big—50 pounds? No problem!"

"We can call him Jay—after your best friend," said my boyfriend, who had never met him, but knew what his friendship had meant. The tears welled up in my eyes and I knew that while I had lost a best friend earlier in the year, I was gaining a canine best friend that day (and that my boyfriend was a keeper).

A lot of people ask where Boogie came along in his name. That's his personality—he just boogies all over. I once caught him tap dancing in the bathtub. One day I came home early for lunch, and as soon as I walked into the bathroom, his red head poked out from behind the shower curtain, eyes large as if I caught him eating a piece of cake, with a look of panic that I had just witnessed an embarrassing moment for him. He has so much zest for life and pleasing people that you can't help but love him, all 98 pounds that he's grown into. I remember the first time we took him to the park during winter and he discovered ice. Jay would run and slide across patches of ice, seemingly delighted with this new-found pleasure.

One of the things I love most about him is that he loves educational programming on TV—seriously. Obviously he loves anything dog-related (even dog cartoons like Scooby-Doo), but he'll glue himself in front of the screen when the Travel Channel is on as if he's daydreaming about running along the beaches chasing the surf.

Turns out that he's a Rhodesian ridgeback mix (with a bit of pit bull), but don't tell him because he's convinced he can fit on your lap and be your couch potato partner. He may look intimidating with his tall stature, large head, and powerful (wagging) tail, but inside is a personality that reminds me so much of his namesake.

Animals can have such a profound impact on our lives, filling places in our hearts with such joy. Jay Boogie brings a smile to my face every day with his goofy persona and the loyalty that drives him to stay attached to our sides, reminding us that he loves us just as much as we love him.  And that I have a best friend again at my side.

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!