I cried for a long time. I cried until the sunny bright sky outside was dark and the stars came out to greet me. I felt sick and tired, but managed to pull myself out of bed to go and talk with dog dad Josh. “I am going to give up…” I told him. He seemed confused. “This is just too hard and anytime I am denied or a puppy gets adopted by someone else, it breaks my heart over and over again. I want a dog so bad and I guess this just isn’t the right time. The type of puppy I keep going for are also what everyone else is going for, so I either have to change what I want or hold off and try again some other time. I can’t take the pain anymore.” Josh agreed and we discussed it a little before I went back into our room to wallow in self pity. I sat quietly for a moment, thinking about “Gracie” and Augie and the other puppies I missed out on. I checked Petfinder again and Gracie was first on my list, but adoption still pending. Augie had been removed. I closed it, ready to just move on with my night, sad and feeling lonely. Then my phone rang.
We set up a time and place to meet in between where both of us were located. It was going to take us about 2 hours to get there. I went out to tell Josh the news, who was confused as I literally just said I was not looking anymore and then agreed to take a puppy that I don’t know at all, but something just felt...right.
Of course, I tossed and turned all night, too excited to actually rest. I woke up tired, but I didn’t care. I had to wait all day. Her foster worked, so I had to wait for him to get off before we could leave, but finally we were on the road. Rush hour caused the Baltimore roads to clog and the rain slowed us down even more. I was so anxious and just ready to see and meet this mystery puppy for the first time! The rain pounded against the windshield, but not harder than my heart pounded in my chest the closer we got. We were meeting at a public place, the parking lot of a diner, just for safety, and when we finally arrived, it was dark. We didn’t see him, but we parked to wait. At last, a truck pulled up beside us and a man popped out with a handful of paperwork.
My eyes searched passed him, trying to catch a glimpse of my future puppy, but I couldn’t see anything. Josh was out of the car first, greeting the foster director and getting down to business straight away. From the other side, a woman handed the foster a black, thin leash and he began to help a puppy out of the car and set her on the ground. I simply...even now...couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Tail tucked and a bit nervous was a brown, fluffy puppy with a dark muzzle.
“This is Gracie,” he said, “She’s had an adoption pending for 2 weeks now and the family isn’t contacting me back anymore, so when I heard from our other foster what you were looking for, I figured she would be perfect.”
I didn’t say anything, I just dropped to my knees and let her cautiously approach me. He said she had been with them for a while, since she was much smaller, so she had grown very fond of their children and them. In fact, he said if I hadn’t agreed to take her, they were going to foster fail and keep her themselves because she was such a good girl. Josh filled out the paperwork for me with my information, which was a good thing because my hands were shaking. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. None of it felt real at all.
Paperwork filled out, adoption fee paid in full, and vet records and our copies of things were tucked away under Josh’s arm.
“Like I said, her name is Gracie, but she likes to be called Gracie Doodle. You can change her name if you want, but she does respond to Gracie,” her former foster said as he placed her leash into the palm of my hand. An electric serge rushed from her and into me. We were connected, not just by leash, but by something else, something stronger. She didn’t want to walk, so I picked her up and carried her to the car. Slipping into the front seat, I kept her on my lap. I wasn’t even really sure how to function at that moment. Josh snapped one photo before we made our way back home. I don’t really remember the drive home, but I remember our first night together. I remember how well behaved she was and even stopping at Petsmart on our way home to get her a new collar, leash, and harness, as well as a name tag. Janurary 30th, 2013, she was Winry.
We've now spent 7 wonderful years together and there are many more to come. In our time together, Winry has lived in 2 apartments, 3 houses, our car, and the travel trailer we are in now. She has seen 24 states and has traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast. She has been on a plane and has also adventured in at least 7 different National Parks/Forests. She has hiked thousands of miles during our journey together from high peaks, to prairies, to the coast, to deserts. She has swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic ocean and swam in one of the great lakes (Lake Michigan). She became my fully task trained Service Dog at 3 years old and has been working ever since. She has seen more than your average dog and traveled more than your average dog, and loves every minute of it. It is because of her that I fell deeply in love with rescues and rescue work. It is because of her that I will always adopt my animals because I know that magical dogs like her are just sitting in shelters, waiting for a home. It is because of her that I am alive today to write our story. We have many more years together and many more adventures ahead of us. This is the beginning of our journey and it's why I encourage others to check Petfinder first. Think adoption first. Give it a shot at least. See if you can find your perfect match in a shelter before seeking a reputable breeder... because I would hate for you to miss out on a dog like my girl.
— The Wayfinder