The Devine Pet Adoption

Sometimes great things happen in your life as a result of goal-setting, hard work, and determination. And then there are the unexpected great things in life. They take us by surprise, and sometimes even scare us a little. We look back at those events, see how they changed our lives, and wonder how we could ever have it any other way.

It was the fall of 2009. I was driving home from the lab one evening. It was dark and rainy, and I just wanted to get home to eat dinner. We lived off a busy street called Zeigler Boulevard in Mobile, AL at the time. I turned off this busy street and was about two blocks from my house when I saw an animal dart out in front of my car. It was dark, but I was pretty sure it was a dog. Unfortunately, stray dogs are a common occurrence in Mobile. I slowed down to see if the dog had a collar or if it looked aggressive. As soon as this dog saw my car slow down, it ran over to my car door. This is unusual, because stray dogs that I've encountered typically bark at me and run away. Not this one. This dog practically invited himself into my car. I got out of the car to pet him. He looked miserable--cold, wet, malnourished, with terribly matted hair. But he was happy as could be to see me--tail wagging and jumping all over my pants. I got dirty, but didn't seem to care all that much.

I think you can anticipate what I did. I took off my shirt (I had a shirt on underneath, don't worry) and wrapped this dog in it. You may think I was being selfless, but I was actually trying to keep my car from getting dirty. At this point, I was uncommitted. I wanted to get him out of the rain and hopefully find his owner. I took him home and got a stern talking-to from my wife about how we can't bring every stray into the house. That will be funny later on. We planned to house him for the night and take him to the city shelter the next day. That night we found out how sick he really was. He defecated in our house several times--not the healthy kind either. It was a rough night. He cried a lot, but I think he was happy to have food, water, and a warm place to sleep. He scratched up our bathroom door pretty bad with his frantic attempts to get out. He was filthy.

The next day we took him to the shelter to see if anyone had reported a missing dog that fit his description. Correction, my wife took him to the shelter. He stayed in our house one night and did nothing but make our lives miserable. Yet, when she dropped him off at the shelter, she cried. I love my wife--stern and practical, but soft and emotional. A true dichotomy. The shelter told us they'd hold him for one week and wait for someone to claim him. After that, he was up for adoption.

We already had a dog--Dozer. We made very little money as I was in graduate school at the time. Getting a second dog seemed a little bit stupid. We talked about it for that week. Practicality clashed with altruism. After all, you can't save them all! But what about this one? The one that almost leaped into my arms when he first saw me! I'm not trying to over-dramatize here, but I thought about adoption that week. It became real to me--how a person or animal can have nothing but loneliness, poverty, and abandonment ahead of them, and then one day it all changes. If this dog didn't find me or someone else, I am confident he would have been dead years ago. Adoption redirects destinies.

Nobody claimed that dog. We went to the shelter the next week to bring home our newest addition to the family. He was still filthy, and he actually ended up getting more sick at the shelter. We shaved all his hair off to find several skin infections. We bathed him and took him to the vet. He needed shots. He had worms. Hundreds of dollars later he was on the way to recovery. In the end, we got him for the price of buying a dog, but there's something special about how it all happened. It's not about the money, it's about where he was and where he is now.

We named him Dodger.

Dodger has our hearts now. He gets excited every time we feed him. If dogs can think retrospectively, I'm sure he'd be grateful for his daily portion and a family that loves him. Our other dog is not his biggest fan, but they get along just fine. They act like brothers. Dodger is spoiled now, and we love it. He sleeps on the living room furniture, usually on top of a blanket or pillow, because the couch itself just isn't soft enough. Sometimes he even wants to sleep in our bed, and we let him, if he's been bathed recently that is.

You can't save them all, but you can save one. Sometimes it's best to tell your practical side to shut up.


  1. As Jim & I contemplate adoption (human, not canine) I cannot help but see the similarities "how a person or animal can have nothing but loneliness, poverty, and abandonment ahead of them, and then one day it all changes." What a wonderful gift to give!

  2. It gives me chills when I spend time thinking about it. Adoption is amazing!

  3. Adopting an animal is a pleasure in a strange way. This is not what everyone can understand. Your first meet with your Dodger is pretty interesting and sweet. Such incidents happen accidentally only. It was really pleasure reading your words! I'm also a dog man but I have adopted him intentionally. I love dogs when I was only 7years. It was a great desire for me to have a dog. Hope you have awareness about how to care him, precautions, vaccinations etc. Choose a good vet for him and you'll know everything. Check out mine at Dog Neutering Simi Valley. Thanks.