Puppy love is universal! Every time I foster puppies for my local Humane Society, I lose a piece of my heart all over again. But to be truthful, I lose a much larger part of my heart to the adult shelter dogs who have a tougher time finding a new home.
American poet Joaquin Miller once wrote, “The biggest dog has been a pup.”
When I walk through my local shelter, my eye is drawn to the older overlooked dogs who were once cute puppies too. Back in December, one dog in particular caught my eye and tugged at my heart. His name is Big Daddy, a gray muzzled beagle. He’d been brought in with a female beagle who was pregnant and ready to deliver.
I’m a realist. I knew what my role would be as a shelter foster mom. Big Daddy needed to stay at the shelter so he had a better chance at being adopted. Mama Dog needed to come with me to finish delivering her litter in a home environment.
Mama Dog had four beautiful puppies four days before Christmas.
We named her Noelle and named her puppies after reindeer. I delighted in them all – how could I not?! – but I kept checking in at the shelter regularly, praying that older dog Big Daddy had been adopted. Luckily for Mama Noelle – only 2 years old – she already had a wonderful family to go to as soon as her puppies finished weaning.
January faded into February and still Big Daddy stayed in adoptions at the shelter. Waiting in a kennel run. I started second guessing myself. Should I have brought him home too even though I have three dogs of my own in addition to the foster mama and four puppies?
Finally the time arrived for the puppies to get a second round of vaccinations in preparation of going up for adoption and Mama Noelle going to her new home. I took the puppies and Mama to the shelter clinic, my heart heavy as I thought about saying goodbye to them all.
We walked inside- and there was none other than BIG DADDY! He had just been neutered and was waking up. He’d been adopted and was on his way to his forever family!
Mama Noelle remembered him. She ignored all the other dogs in the clinic and greeted her old friend. The shelter vet joked that she laughing and whispering in Big Daddy’s ear how he wouldn’t be able to knock her up again.
She may have been doing just that. But I knew she was also saying goodbye and good luck.
How cyclical that they would all be together just then. And what were the odds of us being there at exactly the right window of time? Especially since I’d had to cancel appointments at the clinic the two days prior.
No more second guessing. We were exactly where we were supposed to be. All had played out to a heart tugging, perfect conclusion. I got tears in my eyes knowing this whole little family that had been homeless at Christmas would now each know the love of a forever home of their own.
I lost a big piece of my heart to that beagle family. And I’m so very, very grateful to have been a part of their Christmas miracle that turned into a lifetime of Valentine’s family love.
Pets are a beloved part of our family. Did you have a treasured pet as a child? One commenter will be chosen at random to win an autographed copy of my December book HOT ZONE and my March book PROTECTOR. Winner will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 25.
USA Today Catherine Mann writes military romantic suspense for Sourcebooks and Berkley, as well as steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. A RITA Award winner, she has over forty books on the shelves, in more than twenty languages. She has a packed release schedule this spring with PROTECTOR (March), HONORABLE INTENTIONS (April), UNDER FIRE (May), and "Dog Tags" in LOVE BITES (June). FMI on her upcoming books, check out her website.