Is there a pet out there who you almost adopted — but didn’t? Do you still think about him or her?
Every December for the past decade, my family and I have hosted a Santa Paws event at three Northern Idaho shelters. Our goal is to bring joy, hope, love, tasty treats, and new toys to every dog and cat in the facility. We also whisper promises to each pet that we’ll redouble our efforts to find them a forever home.
Around eight years ago, I met a mixed breed dog I really connected with at Panhandle Animal Shelter in Sandpoint, Idaho. When I spotted her, I stopped cold while walking up and down the aisles greeting all the dogs.
She studied me from her Kuranda bed, ignoring the happy sounds made by the other dogs echoing in the room. We looked at each other like emotional duelists until finally she got up and slowly walked to the front of her run. I looked at the name on the cage ID: Char (not Shar, but Char as in Char-coal). With her head down but her eyes looking up, she looked really deep inside me until I passed some test, because her tail starting wagging. Faster and faster it went until I swear I could feel a breeze coming off of it like one of those Big Ass fans.
I went inside Char’s cage and sat on her Kuranda bed, and she crawled up and sat calmly in my lap. I talked to her, stroked her, and told her I loved her and that we’d work really hard to move her from the cage at the shelter to a couch in somebody’s home. Then I left to visit another ward.
Honestly, the thought of adopting Char crossed my mind, but I talked myself out of it before even presenting the idea to my pet-loving wife, Teresa, who I’m sure would have objected. And for good reason. I was traveling a great deal for my work then, and we already had four dogs at home.
And honestly, I sometimes feel like getting another dog somehow takes away from what you can give the other pets.
Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about Char, so I called back a week later, only to find out she’d found a home. She was going to be “home for the holidays”!
I’m so glad she was adopted, but to this day, I still wonder what would have happened if I’d have followed my heart and not my head and brought her to Almost Heaven Ranch. It was partly because of my memory of Char I gave into that same impluse a couple of years later, and brought my Gracie home from the shelter on Christmas Eve!
Who is the pet you can’t forget, but never made part of your life?