There’s a saying that you don’t necessarily get the dog you want; you get the dog you need. Each of my dogs has taught me something different, so for me that’s true. Each of my dogs struck a chord when I first saw them… there was a sense of recognition, of connection, even if my first sight of them was just a picture. The way things have worked out, I feel as though each of them was supposed to be in my life.

When I first saw Wolf, he was a new arrival at the shelter in Providence, Rhode Island where I was a volunteer. He looked like a wolf: dark grey, sitting in the outside run, quietly observing his surroundings. I remember the sudden, involuntary gasp when I first saw him. It didn’t take long to turn my life upside down so I could adopt him. (He turned out to be mostly blonde and light grey after a few baths.)

Panda was in a pet store. I’d gone for guinea pig food. They had a few puppies; not puppy mill puppies, but puppies from local ‘accidents’ that they sold for a small fee rather than let them end up in shelters. She was in a cage; I looked at her, she looked at me, she looked at her toy, pounced on it, and held her pose, looking back at me. She came home with me that day.

I with looking for Kestry. I wanted a Belgian, and I wanted a dog to compete in obedience and agility. I was searching rescues; someone gave me a lead a dog in Florida, sending me his picture and contact info for his breeder, who had recently pulled him from a shelter. Same involuntary gasp, same sense of recognition. He made it as far as Virginia with successive transports, where I picked him up to being him home.

Phoenix was born on a farm where I was bringing Kes for agility classes. His entire litter was brought into the kitchen for socialization when he was just two and a half weeks old. Most of the puppies were squirming around, uncomfortable with being held; Phoenix licked my hand, rolled over onto his back, and fell asleep. I was hooked.

Raven was my dog before she was born. I had a dream about her mother, Chay, and the puppies; Chay would put this little black tri puppy in my lap, I would put the puppy back with the others, telling Chay I didn’t want another dog, Chay would put the puppy back in my lap. I told my breeder friend about the dream; she said something along the lines of ‘there shouldn’t be a black tri puppy in this litter because of the parents’ coat colors, and if you were going to get another dog it should be a female anyway.’ Litter born, one black tri puppy, female. Done.

I didn’t get to see Gryphon until he came to my house for a visit when he was five weeks old. I wanted a boy, and I had a particular type of dog in mind: observant, a thinker. The breeder was giving me pick of the litter for the boys. Turns out Gryph was the only little boy in his litter of two. We connected right away, and he’s exactly what I had envisioned.

I first saw both Seelie and Merlin on their respective rescue websites. In both cases, there was that sudden sense of recognition, almost a little shock, the first time I saw the pictures. In both cases, I held off. With Seelie, I felt he would be more energy than I could handle. I met one other dog from the same rescue, who was not a good match for my pack, then got in touch with Seelie’s foster mom, took the trip out to Pennsylvania, and brought him home.

Seelie's picture from TriState Sheltie Rescue, based on Long Island (rescue has since shut down)

Seelie’s picture from TriState Sheltie Rescue, based on Long Island (rescue has since shut down)

With Merlin, the first time I saw him online,there was that same sense of shock and connection. He was being fostered in Vermont; I figured he was too far away, and I wasn’t really in a position to get another dog anyway. Months later, after I’d lost Phoenix, I was back on that website. Merlin was now being fostered in New Jersey. I ended up asking about a different dog, who reminded me of Kestry, whom I’d lost almost two years ago. I was supposed to meet that dog the following weekend; he ended up being adopted before I left. The woman in charge of the rescue asked if there was anyone else I might be interested in. I mentioned Merlin, talked with his foster mom, drove to New Jersey to meet him, and brought him home.

Merlin's picture from the Glen Highland Farm website

Merlin’s picture from the Glen Highland Farm website

I can’t claim to know anything about destiny or fate. I just know the dogs in my life are the ones I’m supposed to have.


8 thoughts on “Recognition

  1. Wow-your dream about the tri color puppy is unreal! I’d say destiny for sure!!
    I loved to hear about how well connected you were to these dogs from first sight. Your relationship to all of them in different ways seems so special.


    • Having that dream was an amazing experience. Twelve years later, she’s still my little girl. I’m glad the differences are coming through – I wasn’t sure I would be able to express them clearly!


  2. I feel that way about my cats. We were meant to be together. It would just be wrong if we weren’t paired up! I’m glad you are connected with your clan — pets are incredibly enriching to our lives.


  3. Your first line in this piece drew me in. I have a dog whom I love to bits but she has been so much trouble. I am not sure what to do with her next. What do you do with a dog like mine? We have persisted for 4 years however, another runaway yesterday is making it increasingly hard for us. Any advice?


  4. I love this idea of getting the dog that you need rather than the one you want. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who gazes at pretty pix of dogs online and dreams about my next one!! (Of course I’m only looking at pix of pitties!)


    • I can’t take any credit for the idea; it’s something I’ve heard so many times in the dog world. And you and I are members of a very large club of people who ‘window shop’ for dogs online!


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