There are times in our lives when surprises, big or small, come our way unannounced with no warning. We make plans and imagine our future only to find it can all change in an instant, and our lives take a different course that we never saw coming. Things we “never” imagined for ourselves turn out to be the blessings in our lives that we’re most thankful for and never knew we needed.
The surprising “never” of our family’s fate walked into our lives on four legs, covered in fleas and ticks, malnourished, battered and bruised, with a heart of gold and a tail that has never stopped wagging since the moment we met him.
I was driving to a doctors appointment one Wednesday afternoon when a dog that reminded me of Jem walked across the road right in front of my car. I quickly pulled over to check if he had an ID tag for me to call his home. When I jumped out to look for him, I couldn’t find him anywhere! I was so worried that I missed my opportunity to reunite him with his family. After no luck finding him, I got back into my car and shut the door. In my rear-view mirror I saw big brown eyes staring back and me and heard the sound of a tail thumping against the seat. I had left my car door open when I was looking for him, and he jumped in!
My first impression of him was “wag more, bark less.” He was such a sweet, quiet, gentle, obedient, and overly happy boy who never stopped wagging his tail. His unwavering positivity was so inspiring because I would expect a dog in his condition to be as emotionally damaged on the inside as he appeared to be on the outside, but he acted like he was the luckiest and most grateful boy in the world just to be alive and in the care of someone who could potentially give him a future.
He didn’t have a collar or ID tag, the vet didn’t find a micro chip, and Animal Control and the shelters had no reports of a missing dog that matched his description. He was officially a stray without immediate hope of a family.
I have seen lots of success stories on Facebook of pets being reunited, so I posted his picture with a description of where I found him and his traits such as gender, size, condition, and the fact that he had not been neutered.
Introducing Buddy To The Pack
I brought him home and hesitantly introduced him to Zoey, Jem, and Laci. They can be cliquey at times and unfriendly to new guests that threaten their pack, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how welcoming they were to him. Laci jumped all over him like they’ve been best friends for years, Zoey wagged her tail as she sniffed him, and Jem only gave a few curious howls. Our dogs welcomed him so easily and accepted him in a way that felt like they knew him all their lives. I had a fateful feeling that was their way of telling us this new dog was always meant to be here with us.
I was also worried how he might react to them since I had no idea what kind of trauma he had been through in the past or if he had dog aggression. I was so impressed with how gentle and kind he was with our little dogs as he towered over them sniffing them curiously and wagging his tail.
His tail has never missed a beat since we met him. He could be standing outside all alone and he would be wagging as if to say he was happy and content no matter what he was doing or what the circumstances were.
I was sad for him when I noticed he didn’t seem to know how to interact or play with our dogs or their toys. It was like he had never learned how to be a dog, and maybe he was never given that chance. We would try to play ball, fetch, or tug of war with him and he seemed confused like a new puppy being introduced to a toy for the first time.
He was cautious, looked for approval, and aimed to please us. He would look up at us for permission before going inside the house wondering if he was welcome. He was extremely smart and attentive from the start. He even knew the general commands like “sit, stay, come, no, etc.”
He loved being in the car more than any other dog I’ve met. We’d take him on as many car rides as we could, and when we got home he didn’t want to get out. He wanted to stay in there for hours by himself just parked in the garage. It was his comfort zone. He could only be coaxed out with a treat, and even then he needed a lot of encouragement before he would give in. We wondered if he felt most comfortable there because he associated it with being rescued. Maybe he figured if he stayed in the car we would have to take him with us if we ever left, and he wouldn’t be abandoned again.
He had such a selfless spirit and gentle soul from the second he walked into our lives. We didn’t know what to call him or if we should name him. Naturally we would say, “come here Bud,” or “hey Buddy, good boy!” His friendly spirit led us to instinctually call him Buddy as a term of endearment, and after a few days the name stuck.
Buddy’s Past In The Kill Shelter Is Revealed
The day after finding him, two women came forward on Facebook saying he was their dog and his name was Elvis, but he may not know his name because they had only had him for less than a week. They said he dug out from under their fence while they weren’t home. They had just started a non-profit out of their house with a mission to rescue dogs from kill shelters. They arrived at the kill shelter 30 minutes before the dogs were scheduled to be euthanized and rescued them from that fate.
Minutes Away From Being Euthanized
We called the kill shelter that “Elvis” came from, and the woman on the phone couldn’t speak more highly of him. She said he was such an amazing dog that they actually gave him two weeks longer than protocol before they are euthanized hoping that he would be rescued.
Every Creatures Salvation saved him only minutes before he was scheduled to be euthanized. I was speechless and numbed at the thought of how close this remarkable dog was to never walking out of that kill shelter.
The women who rescued him had saved multiple dogs at once and were tight on resources. We asked them if we could foster Buddy at our home. We were attached and didn’t want to see him leave, but mainly we knew it was in his best interest if we funded his journey to adoption. There was a PetSmart adoption event in one week that they originally planned for him to attend, and he needed to be neutered by then to be eligible.
Surprise Of A Lifetime On The Operating Table
We scheduled Buddy to be neutered with a wonderful veterinarian in town, and we joked that we should get the operation at half price because he only had one testicle. The veterinarian laughed and warned us that it would actually be more expensive because they have to make an incision in his abdomen to go looking for the other testicle that hadn’t dropped.
When we picked Buddy up, the veterinarian said it was a miracle that he happened to make the incision in the location that he did, because as soon as he opened Buddy up he saw a large bubble on his bladder that was moments away from bursting. The vet said his bladder could have ruptured just from playing or rough housing with him and couldn’t believe it was still in tact. He said an injury like that is only consistent with being kicked in the stomach or hit by a car. Both scenarios were tough to stomach thinking about him in either of those dreadful situations. We began to feel like we should be calling him Lucky rather than Buddy!
Is Buddy A Boy Or A Girl?
The surprises didn’t stop there, when looking for his other testicle, the vet instead found a uterus and an ovary. Buddy was a boy on the outside but a girl on the inside! The poor thing went in for a routine neutering surgery and came out with a bladder repair, full hysterectomy, and neutering. We slept with him on the living room floor throughout the night to care for him after this extensive operation.
Buddy’s recovery time doubled once these surprises showed up in the operating room, and the plan to have him ready for the adoption event that weekend was no longer an option. We were going to be caring for him through his recovery for another week or two.
We had all been getting more attached and emotionally invested in him at this point, and on Valentine’s Day Buddy suffered from a seizure in the front yard which scared us half to death. We rushed him to the vet, and once we got there he acted like nothing had happened. The vet said he could just be epileptic, and this may not be the last time he has one. He took a long nap that day because he was so tired from the seizure.
A Change of Heart – Or Was It?
It’s hard to pin point the exact moment when we realized we could never give Buddy up for adoption to another family, or if we somehow knew it all along. But after everything he went through at the kill shelter, getting rescued moments before being euthanized only to find himself on the streets again within days, his surgery, seizure, and how positive he still remained, my dad was the first person to utter the words that we were all thinking -“maybe we should just keep him.”
He had already been through so much and reshaped our family’s structure to include his resilient spirit. I don’t think we could have felt whole again with his absence, and we couldn’t imagine putting him through another huge life change of being re-homed. He is finally home, he has a forever family, and he isn’t going anywhere unless it’s in the backseat with us.
There was a noticeable change in Buddy once we established that he was a permanent member of our family. When we were fostering him, it felt like he didn’t want to play with the toys and join in with the other dogs because maybe he was worried it was just temporary and didn’t want to get his hopes up or get too used to it. After we adopted him, we could notice him letting his guard down. I will never forget the night he opened himself up and learned to play with Laci and the toys in the living room.
They sleep together…
Keep each other company…
He has finally been given the chance to learn how to be a dog, and he’s probably the purest-hearted one we’ve ever known. He still loves going for car rides, but he trusts that he can go inside with us afterwards until the next ride without worrying he that will get left behind.
With all of the improvements he has made, our favorite thing about Buddy hasn’t changed since the moment he came into our lives – he still wags his tail constantly without fail. And now he goes to bed every night with a smile on his face.
There are few people or animals in this life that are so wonderful they make you feel indebted to them. It’s like they have done you a favor just by giving you the honor of knowing them. That is how Buddy has made our family feel – blessed, gifted, indebted, uplifted, inspired, thankful. We didn’t choose our fate, he chose us.