A quite surprising, but darling tale of an unexpected member of the family. So kick-off your shoes, sit back, and enjoy.
Good Friday. Jarett and I leave the kids for a quick trip to Target before they close. We hadn’t even pulled out of our neighborhood when we happened upon a car parked but still running in the middle of the road at the entrance of our neighborhood. We see a woman trying to round up what looks to be a large puppy while her daughter, who couldn’t be more than four, is crying and clinging to her mom and noticeably fearful of this puppy who, not to mention is as big as her, but was so excited to see her and jumping on her. As another car approaches in the opposite direction and the woman’s car blocking traffic, we see her manage to get her daughter in the backseat and then drive several feet to the nearest parking spot, all the while this dog running after the car.
At first, we assume it’s simply a situation where this woman’s dog has gotten loose. Jarett suggests maybe we park to help the woman get a hold of the dog. Worried that a car may not see the dog with it being dark, Jarett rolls down his window and calls after the dog. It stops and heads in our direction. As I start to get out of the car to hopefully collect it for the woman, a couple had just arrived home and was unloading kids from their car when the dog darts over to them. I follow it over and see that the woman had knelt down to greet the dog and had a hand on the collar. The husband, holding an infant car seat on one arm, greeted me as I walked up.
I explained to them that I think a woman’s dog had gotten out, I look over to see the first woman walk towards the three of us. Calling out to her as she approaches, I ask if this is her dog. Once she reaches where we were all standing she explains that it wasn’t their dog, but one that they had seen wandering the street and pulled over to try and help. We all looked over the dog together and determine that it looked to be a young puppy and perhaps a Great Dane. No tags, just a collar. There was then a moment when we all look at each other as the conversation grew quiet. My maternal extinct kicked in. Between the woman with the daughter obviously terrified of the large puppy to the couple with a newborn baby, I figured it would be a lot to take on for anyone else. And there’s no way I could leave this sweet pup, who obviously had not been fed in some time, alone on the street.
“You know what, let me take her back to our place, get her some food, and put some messages out to the community boards and Facebook groups. I’m sure someone is looking for and we will get her back home, but I would hate for something to happen to her”. Everyone nodded their head in support as I scooped her up and headed back to the car where Jarett was waiting. As I approached the car, Jarett reached over and opened the passenger door to help me get in seeing as my hands were full. I sit down and said, “Well. Looks like she’s coming home with us”. Jarett looked at me, then at the dog and said, “Alright then”.
During the short jaunt back to our place, I explained to him all that happened. I then told him that we had only been gone for about 15 minutes. And if we walk in with a dog, the kids are going to think that the whole ‘we’re going to Target thing’ was really a cover to pick up an unexpected Easter gift. So while I stay back in the garage with her, Jarett steps in and preps the kids that we have a dog in our possession, that she is not a gift, and that we are simply housing her for the night while we try and connect her with her owners. He opens the garage door as I step inside with our unexpected and temporary roommate greeted by five shocked, but smiling faces.
We instruct the kids on how to handle things while we jump over to the market and grab her some dog food. Jarett and I might as well have been time-warped back to the days of newborn babes because we sat in the dog food aisle and stared at all of the options for what seemed like forever. All the while repeating under our breath that she is not staying. We get back home to the kids who were cleaning up one accident, while we grab two of my mixing bowls and get her food and water prepared. She sat there gobbling it up while we all sat staring at her, and once again repeating, she is not staying. She is not staying in our 1500 square feet of living space that already houses seven people.
That night I posted to all of the possible boards I could. The community message board, the NextDoor app, the county Facebook group – anything I could do to try and reunite her with her owners. We went to bed assuming that in less than 24 hours we would have her back to her rightful home. And before falling asleep, I muttered under my breath – she is not staying.
She spent Easter weekend going to all of our family activities – from the church potluck and egg hunt to a family hike. I would snap a photo of the kids and then look down at my side to see this bundle of legs and paws look up at me. It would be followed by me asking the kids for one more photo with the dog in it. You know, just for memory’s sake.
The weekend passes. Not a word or even response from anyone. I re-post all of the messages. We drive through our entire area looking for posters or signs up about her. Nothing.
By mid-week I get online and fill out an informational form with our county animal services. I get to the bottom of the form after it states that they give a five-business-day window of time to reunite s stray with owners. It then asks if I am willing to foster her during that time period. Well, of course, we have already had her this long. She might as well stay put where we know she is being taken care of. Then the last question…
“If the owners are not located, are you interested in adopting this animal?”
I pause. Thinking back to the past six days with her and the refreshing energy she has filled our home with. The kids constantly giggling over her puppy antics and having something to look forward to each day while we live in the in between, waiting for our homestead. She seemed to have lifted our hearts a bit. The sweetest and most well-behaved pup who somehow, despite tiny living and her soon-to-be enormous size, seemed to fit perfectly into our lives in the most unexpected of ways.
“Click yes or no below”…
Another pause. I close my eyes and exhale audibly. Kara, what in the world are you doing…
“We will be in touch within 24 hours.”
Twenty-four hours go by. Then another forty-eight. No phone call. No email. I wake up following the 72-hour mark and I tell the kids I am taking her to the local animal hospital to be checked out and to see if she has been microchipped. My last-ditch effort to know whether this puppy has a home or if she is the eighth member of ours.
They do a casual and on-site exam of her.
Great Dane puppy.
Seems to be on the thin side from lack of proper care, but otherwise healthy.
From her puppy teeth and the fact that they don’t even seem ready to come out, the guess is that she is about 2.5 months old.
They scan her for a microchip. There isn’t one.
The vet congratulates me on our new puppy with a smile and a wink. I nervously laugh and respond with a very quiet “oh boy”. She and her staff, after hearing the entire tale, tell me that they are not surprised that we hadn’t heard back from the county and that we probably never will. Word has it they are understaffed and overwhelmed. After I tell them how shocked I am that someone could just dump a puppy, especially this kind of breed, they tell me it doesn’t surprise them one bit. Between the two years of people being bored at home and buying dogs to Christmas having just happened, they are seeing dogs dumped everywhere and in high numbers.
I load her into the car, get into the driver’s seat, and sit in the parking lot for a quiet moment. The background noise of her soft panting. I look at her, nestle my fingertips behind her ears and give her a good scratch.
“You ready to go home, girl?”
Meet Millie. The sweetest puppy with a side of spunk that seems extremely fitting as a member of our pack. Who loves to nap, but equally loves chasing all five of the cubs at their heels. Who adores frisbees and shoes. Who has only had a total of five accidents in the house over the course of the past two weeks and who now is going to the back door when she knows she needs to. Who sleeps through the night and wakes up the closest human with licks and snout nuzzles.
What I thought was an extremely full and busy life apparently had a hole in it the size of a Great Dane puppy and Millie has filled it perfectly. Something that we weren’t looking for and never expected came running into our lives. And in a world where we are all just craving a sense of home, we are so glad that she found ours.
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And you better believe I am all ears for all the puppy and Great Dane advice! It’s been some time since our last puppy and having a Dane is all-new territory! Any tips?