The universe works in mysterious ways. By now, you might know we’ve adopted a dog named Jasper. But, the story of how he came into our lives is so serendipitous, I have to share it with you. Adopting a brother for Sophie has been filled with some twists and turns. I wrote about how we’d gone to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals’ Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days. While we saw adorable cats and beautiful dogs there, that weekend we didn’t find our man. Then, word came through the shelter Social Tees that a dog was available.
His name was Bentley and he was a cutie. My husband and I packed up Sophie’s water bottle, blanket, treats, put her in her carry bag and off we went on the subway to Queens. Bentley was being fostered by a lovely woman named Hiro. He was a Brussels Griffon mix; a serious but sweet boy who darted around like a dog who wasn’t sure what was coming next. Bentley was a stray on the street, taken in by Animal Care and Control, rescued by Social Tees, then fostered by one family, returned, and then Hiro got him. He’d been bounced around so much, we had to be really sure he was the right choice. We didn’t want to do that to him again.
When Sophie really likes a dog, she’s all waggy tush, ears back in a happy way and playful, trying to rev them up for some fun. With her being out of her comfort zone, we thought it wasn’t unusual that she didn’t acknowledge, and then avoided, Bentley at first, and we decided to give them time to warm up. But, after a couple of hours together, it never really gelled, and we went home feeling like this wasn’t the right match.
That night, I went onto the Animal Care and Control website to look around. I go on there regularly, mostly to write about available dogs for adoption on my Shelter Stars page. But, on that night, something compelled me to look into the At Risk dogs, who would be euthanized the next day. I entered my search, and up came Andy, a 14 year old, white Shih Tzu mix, missing one eye and almost blind in the other. He was found wandering on the street. He looked so forlorn, so in need, my heart went out to this old boy. I get emails and Facebook posts everyday about dogs rescued from horrible situations who need our help and dogs on the kill list. I’ll share the post, sometimes I’ll write about it, but that’s usually the extent of it. With Andy, again, something compelled me to feel like I had to rescue this guy. I talked to my husband and he was a supportive angel. He agreed we needed to help Andy and we decided to foster him. I “reserved” Andy on the site, paid my donation for him, and we planned to go up to the ACC on East 110th Street in Harlem the next morning.
On the way, I’m thinking about what we’ll need to take care of Andy and the challenges of a senior dog with health issues…high vet bills, pet insurance premiums through the roof…you know what I mean. When we arrived, we were ushered upstairs to the second floor, past a sign with an arrow saying “Your new pet awaits.” I was so nervous. I’d never been to ACC before, but had heard horror stories. I expected a dirty place with rows of occupied cages, dogs in terrible condition, howling. While I’m not saying the ACC is a good place for an animal, and we only saw a part of one floor, it was nothing like that. It looked clean and the staff were very friendly and caring. We filled out some paperwork and waited for a staff member to help us.
All of a sudden, my husband nudges me and points to a little dog rounding a corner, just back from a walk with a volunteer. “Who’s that?” he asks. We’re told it’s a dog that’s just come up for adoption that morning. We’re invited to check him out while we wait. We enter one of the four kennel rooms cautiously. Inside were a row of cages, but only four were occupied, all by small dogs. The one we’d seen was still being put back by the volunteer, so we started asking questions about him, while looking at his descriptive paperwork on the kennel door.
The details said his name was Shadow, he was four years old, he was surrendered by a family, he was not good with kids and not good with strangers. We didn’t think a whole lot about it because we were there to rescue Andy. But, he was awfully cute, and sitting in his cage, he looked very sweet, with sad but hopeful big brown eyes.
Staff member Damien arrived to process our request for Andy. Something had happened. Damien asked if I would mind if someone wanted to adopt Andy. I said No! I was planning to foster him, so that would be great. Then, he asked, what if a shelter was interested in stepping in? Great, I said! If it’s a good shelter. I was going to reach out to a couple I know for help in placing Andy. Why? Do you have one? Actually, Damien said, there’s a great one we work with who wants to pick him up tomorrow. Wow, I thought. What was happening? My husband and I both agreed that that was a good idea, and we were relieved we’d gotten Andy off of the kill list and helped get him rescued by a good shelter. Then, we looked at each other, at Shadow, and at Damien and I said…What about this guy? He seemed to be many of the things we’d wanted in a brother for Sophie. He was the right age, looked to be the right size, had that scruffy look my husband loves. And those eyes…he had a sweetness. We took him with the volunteer into a visitation room and, 45 minutes later, we walked out the proud new parents of a little boy named Jasper! Yes, this was a bit of an impulse adoption. Sophie hadn’t even met him and she was supposed to choose her brother. But it also seemed like something magical had happened; like Jasper was supposed to enter our lives. The universe had so clearly intervened, compelling me to locate Andy, so we would be at the ACC (and at just the right time) to see Jasper rounding that corner. We saved two dogs that day, and I was over the moon.
At this point, you might be thinking, aw, that’s a sweet story! But, this story is far from over. Who we thought we were adopting, turned out to be another animal, altogether. Tune in to Part Two to find out what we started suspecting about Jasper, and later, confirmed; what happened when Sophie met her brother for the first time, and the big challenge we face with Jasper and how we’re trying to help him.
Do you have a shelter story to share? Tell me about it in the Comments below.
If you liked this story, you can read Part Two here.