I didn’t want anymore pets, especially a dog.
A Golden Retriever bit me when I was around 4 years old and since that time I didn’t want to go near any other dog.
When my sisters would see a dog out for a walk they would run up to it, and ask the owner, “Can we pet your dog?”
I would stand about a foot away from them. I would awkwardly smile and wave at the owner and wait for my sisters.
Whenever we would visit a friend who had a dog, or take a walk around the park in our hometown of Westport Connecticut, I would hear dog owners pitch their voices up to call their dogs. I would hear dog owners coo, and squeak, and contort their voices as they talked to their dogs. I told myself I would never sound like that. I would never speak like that to any child, and especially never speak like that with a dog. No way! Not me, ever!
Well…God had a different idea.
So when I was 17, having had a decent lull without any pets, my family decided to adopt a puppy. They did their research on what breed would be best for a large family. They prayed on how to go about the adoption process. Eventually they fell in love with a German Shepard puppy. He was a breeder surrender, who was in foster care through Good Dog Rescue.
I remember my mother sitting on the phone with the rescue place. After she hung up she told everyone in the family that out of about 30 applications we, our family, was selected to adopt Major the German Shepard puppy.
While everyone in the family was excited I was not. I was angry, and annoyed, and a little scared. I didn’t want a dog. Dogs, I thought, that jump, bark, possibly bite, and make a mess. Another animal that will give us something more to fight about. No thank you!
When the family had cats prior to this decision my siblings and I would fight over who would clean out the litter box. So I couldn’t imagine the clean up that would have to be done and the fighting that would ensue once we brought home dog. However, I had no control over the situation. It was 5 thrilled family members against 1 cynical teenager.
On October 29th 2011 the family piled into our big blue Suburban and drove about an hour or so to a random parking lot. After waiting around a while a truck that seemed to be almost as big as an 18 wheeler pulled into the parking lot. In huge blue letters on the side of the trailer it read GOOD DOG RESCUE. The truck stopped in an open area. My family, including a crowd of other excited people ready to adopt a puppy gathered around the truck.
Here we go, I thought to myself, no turning back now. This is a big mistake, but nothing I can do about it. So whatever…
The truck trailer ramp came down. I could vaguely see among the crowd into the truck. Crates and cages piled on top of each other with different type puppies in each of them. A man came out holding a puppy and a bright colored piece of paper. He yelled out a last name, and another, and many more. People were raising their hands and pushing through the crowd to claim their dogs. I felt like I was at a bizarre raffle.
“FOSTER!” the man called, holding a very small, and black puppy.
My siblings almost jumped out of their clothes they were so excited. My father pushed through the crowd. He took the puppy from the man. The little puppy had a bright red leash around his neck. My family went to an open area in the parking lot and took turns walking our new puppy. I hung back watching everyone quickly fall in love, and practically drool over this creature, already arguing and struggling to take turns with the puppy.
On our way home it started to snow and by the time we got to our house the yard was lightly blanketed in white. Snow in October was just the perfect end to an already strange day. Once our puppy was home it was immediately quite an adventure.
He was taken to dog training classes, socialized at the dog park, and taken to swim classes. We learned various commands and the right voice tones to get him to understand what we needed. We gave him lots of treats and toys and outside time. He loved to play ball, particularly “keep away”, but mostly he loved to be with his people.
Major grew on me slowly. My old heart softened as Major’s heart remained opened. As we learned to train him I found myself pitching my voice up to call him. I would squeak, and coo, and contort my voice when I spoke to the dog. I felt foolish, and dumb. I felt as though I was playing some kind of crazy-dog-mom type role.
One day, when Major was about 8 months, I had realized that not only had I grown to like Major, but I loved Major! To my surprise, eventually, the cooing didn’t feel so dumb. It began to feel real. I realized it was authentic because it came from a place of pure love. I wasn’t afraid to go to the dog park, or anywhere with Major. And what’s more is that he loved more vulnerably, and unconditionally than any creature I had ever met. That was inspiring to me! When I would get angry, or sad about something he would be a steadfast presence full of peace and love. That was a big deal. I learned the value of unconditional love and what it looked like. I learned so much from Major. He was a bright spot in my family’s life, and a gentle giant with everyone he came in contact with. My heart is forever melted.
So here’s to you, my dear Major Puppy.
Here’s to heart and soul, my dear friend. You have a heart and soul. Full of life and love, my dear friend. You are forever full of life and love.
Tender and gentle you are. Strong and loyal you are. Sweet and funny are you. Forever a companion you’ll be.
When the world around you got angry you didn’t cower. You stayed with a presence that said, “I love you.”
When the world around you got sad and distant you didn’t argue with it. You stayed with a presence that said, “I love you. I’m here if you need me.”
When the world around you was full of energy you didn’t bark, bite, or jump. You were peaceful. You stood your ground with a presence that said, “I love you. Show up how you must.”
From “Come!” to “Sit”, and “Lie down”, to “Good potty!” “OK!” and “Good boy!” you were a very good boy. It was a treat to share adventures with you. From Connecticut to Pennsylvania and back to Connecticut. From Connecticut to Florida, and on to Colorado. You had many long car rides, adventures in the snow, and lots of sunny days of fun.
Heart and soul, my dear friend. You have a beautiful heart and soul. You impacted many with your bright heart, and tender soul.
I love you forever. Thank you, dear friend for your heart and soul. Thank you for being my brother. You’ll always be my Major Puppy!
I’ll miss you. Your Foster family will miss you. But onwards and upwards with lots of love. Free dog! 💙
Cover Photo taken by Grace Foster