Six years without a soul dog.
Without a dog velcro’d to my side.
I’d only looked seriously at one dog in all that time, and it wasn’t to be. I have seen hundreds – if not more – of beautiful faces on Pet Finder and rescues and breeder’s sites and shelters over the years. Not one photo did what I needed it to – which was to give me ‘that feeling’ – that electric, hair-standing-on-end knowing.
And then, last Sunday, my friend Nancy shared this post. Paige is a friend of Nancy’s, and they both do incredible work in the rescue arena.
Oh, I should add they do that work in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is not near Maine.
I’ll let you read what I read five days ago… Okay. Go.
Okay so I’m crying at this point, and that’s good if for no other reason as it proves I’m not a sociopath (note: If you are not crying, please stop reading and proceed to the Psychology Today website, where you will find a list of professionals who might be able to help you. Do it. You cold be dangerous).
So, again, I’m crying.
And then I scroll down one more time, and Paige has included pics. These are her pics:
Truly, it was as if I was electrified. Goosebumps from head to toe. I was literally rubbing my arms the way you do when that happens.
I sat in my chair, stunned.
That’s my dog… (quietly at first, like an urgent whisper).
THAT’S MY DOG! (loud, insistent).
When JoHn walked into the kitchen, I told him.
“I got a feeling… about a dog.”
He rolled his eyes and smiled. “Uh huh.”
“No. I did. The feeling.”
He stopped and I started to read the post out loud… and didn’t make it through without getting choked up again right along with JoHn. I remember him saying, “Go get her! She’s beautiful!” and something about meeting the transport at the midpoint between Oklahoma and Maine, which he suggested might be Georgia. My husband is nearly perfect, and one of the areas he is… er… lacking in, is geography.
I was sharing what JoHn was saying with my friend Nancy, when she piped up and said something like, “Uh, he does realize that Bella is coming to Maine, right?! She will probably be there tomorrow!”
My dog is coming to Maine. I have to go get her. I have to figure out how this works!
I was on it. This was my girl.
I checked Paige’s Facebook profile for any and all updates on the transport. I figured out that she was tagging her fellow SPACAR (her rescue) folks and so I would check their pages too (Ladies, I know it sounds totally creepy, but I know a LOT about all of you. I’m not even sorry.).
I followed the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP (Portland, Maine)) site and was hitting the refresh button more often than I did when my kids were waiting for their college acceptances (sorry kids).
I left a message for Kristen, the transport coordinator of the Portland shelter to try to figure out how and when I could meet Bella. She called back with the process and a guesstimate as to when Bella might come available. It wasn’t right away because all the transported animals needed to pass their health checks and the staff needed to get to know them so they could be really good match-makers. Since they weren’t familiar with how my ‘feelings’ work, they didn’t know that Bella was already my dog and I was trying not to sound, you know, insane. In the mean time, Paige and I became friends on Facebook so we could keep up with all the shenanigans together.
And then, the call.
Bella was going up on the website. When she showed up, that meant she was available. They couldn’t just put a hold on a dog who hadn’t even had a visit yet, so I had to get to the Animal Refuge League as soon as I could this morning, and when I did I had to go to the door right away and put my name on the sign-in sheet and also Bella’s name in the ‘who do you want to see’ column. If I got there first, I would be the first to see her and be considered for her ‘forever home’.
Okay, here is the thing.
I am not a very competitive person.
You beat me in a board game? No problem.
Foot race, or tug o’ war, or corn hole? I’ll probably help you win by reverse cheating so I can sit down.
But you want to try to get to a dog I have been waiting six years for – my next soul dog?
I was in the car at 4:48 a.m. this morning, and drove the hour and 20 minutes to Portland. With a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts (I’m not that competitive) I was in the parking lot by 6:10.
The shelter didn’t open until 11.
I could not find the sign in sheet. It was not on the door.
I took a selfie in front of the door with a time stamp.
I wrote an e-mail documenting that I was there at 6:10 a.m. and wanted to see Bella.
I left a message for Kristen – the transport coordinator – telling her I was really there and could not find the sign in sheet (so she could vouch for me just in case).
At about 8:00, during one of my many walks, I did find the sign up sheet – which had blown off in the rain and wind last night and was on the ground. I taped to the door with the only thing I had that was sticky – a band-aid from my first aid kit – and put my name right in the first spot and Bella’s name and – just in case there was a cat or a bunny, guinea pig, lizard, or rat with the same name, also wrote “DOG”.
And then a lot of things happened that made me even more certain Bella was my girl and then there was an interview with a very nice human who was also called Lisa, and then, oh yeah…
I took my girl home.
And you know what?
She sure does love riding in the car!
Back seat? No way.
Bella is a front seat, sitting upright, staring out the front windshield kind of gal (a harness is now on my shopping list).
And she is sweet.
And somehow, I knew… I knew that HRH the Princess Bunny Blaze would realize that she has been missing a pretty big job in the months since Marshal Dillon Dingle left us all with bruised and fragile hearts… and thus would not confuse Bella for a snack.
Blaze will always need a job, or lots of ’em. We just had to convince her of that fact.
So, when we got home, and Bella got her zoomies out (she’s fabulous at the zoomies), we put leashes on both dogs and we walked…
In parallel. Close together. Farther apart (depending on the intensity of Blaze’s side eye). Then past, in front of, and behind each other.
Finally, after a couple of hours (breaks included), I had both leashes in my hand – one dog on the inside of our lattice fence, and one dog outside. Both were tired, and calm. The leashes were slack and I looked at JoHn, who said, “Do it.”
I dropped the leashes and opened the gate.
And HRH the Princess Bunny Blaze proceeded… with a coronation.
There was the consultation on all things Royal, including the pointing out of discrete pee spots and where Spike, the porcupine, hangs out (quills in snouts is decidedly unbecoming of a Royal).
Then there was the royal chasing (that, fortunately, did not end in the highborn butt chomping)…
When the coronation was complete, there was a dignified water bowl toast, where Blaze assured the new princess that the water is always plentiful for the Royals living at The Inn*.
And when the important traditions were completed, there was much rejoicing… in the form of more zoomies by the new princess…
The very last thing, before the day ended, was for the new member of our Royal Family to choose her Royal Name.
We talked about it a lot, because it had to be regal and stuff.
And we finally decided that this princess would be named after a Disney princess, who was beautiful and silly and smart and independent and giving and very patient. One who went through a lot of scary stuff and also magical stuff, and ended up living pretty happily… as in ‘ever after’.
Bella of SPACAR (and ARLGP!) would henceforth be known as HRH Princess Belle of Dingle….
Yep, our own Dingle Belle.
Today was as long and exciting as it was special and wonder-filled. We are all settling in for the night right now.
Blaze is tired and happy. She has a new princess to groom, and that’s a big job.
And Belle is snoring happily beside me as I type. No really…
That little fox? She brought it with her… one of the only things she packed. She carries it to the places she lies down, and snuggles it. She also snuggles us, and covers us with sloppy kisses every chance she gets.
It’s…. a little bit of Heaven.
Welcome home, my little Princess Belle.
I will be forever grateful to all those who played a part in getting you here.
Thanks for readin’.
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*The house isn’t actually an inn right now, but it was in the early 1900s (so, if you come by intending to stay we’ll probably look at you funny).