Editor's note: Vivian was adopted from Richmond SPCA on August 9, 2015. The following was sent to us by her adopter Ronda Ford.
Approaching retirement, I decided it finally was a good time to adopt a dog. Free from the responsibilities and frequent travel of my job, I now could devote the necessary time and energy to care for a dog. During this time of transition to a new chapter in my life, I also encountered a broken relationship that left me severely depressed and feeling very alone.
After a particularly sad day, I stopped by the local shelter seeking solace-- and discovered another soul . . . needing solace. When I passed Vivian’s enclosure she was huddled in the back trying hard not to be noticed in the openness of her environment. She looked how I felt—scared, alone, vulnerable.
In the visiting room, I tried to win over her attention but she clung to the adoption counselor and refused to acknowledge me. When the counselor left us alone, she leaned against the door anxiously searching for that familiar face to return and rescue her. When the handler returned to ask how it went, I was a bit skeptical about considering this dog for adoption. But then she said I could take her overnight to see how Vivian might function in a different surrounding. So, I decided to take a chance.
During the next 24 hours Vivian roamed the yard sniffing out her new confine. I relegated myself to the hammock to observe her. On occasion she would approach, sniff me, and then slink away timidly. I did not really bond with Vivian during our 24 hour test period, nor did she bond with me. But I couldn’t bear to send her back after observing her eager explorations of freedom within my back yard.
I returned to the shelter the next day and filled out the paperwork to officially make Vivian my companion. The response from the staff to this adoption was so heartwarming. Everyone was overjoyed that Vivian was finally getting a forever home.
Vivian’s adaptation to a new way of life has at times been challenging, but I understand how hard it is to recover from a tremendous hurt. Behavior shouldn’t require explanation, particularly when it comes from a place of pain. I don't need to know where Vivian’s source of pain comes from; I don't need even need to understand it. I just need to be careful with her and acknowledge that she needs care and comfort, just the same as I do.
Vivian and I are undertaking this journey of restoration together. Since her adoption we have gone on many adventures, from trekking neighborhood river trails, to hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail. What a joy it is to witness those ears pricked and that tail erect as she absorbs the world around her.
I continue to be mindful of Vivian’s struggles. She’s mindful that I’m a daily source of love and affection. We’re both grateful for the companionship. As to who rescued whom . . . well, it’s mutual.
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