Somewhere between 7:30 and 8:45 every morning, without fail, I am woken up by a large tongue in my face. Nope, not nearly as titillating as it sounds. It’s Petey, one of my two dogs. Petey is a fairly new addition to our household, joining Milo, who we adopted in June of 2014 when he was only 8 weeks old and 2.5 pounds. Petey was originally a foster dog for us in June of 2015, and within three days of living with him we knew we couldn’t bear to see him leave.
While we got to train and mold Milo and see him grow up, Petey was already a year and a half old when we got him. He’d been living on the streets of Georgia for a while before being picked up and brought to a high kill shelter, which means that had In Our Hands Rescue not intervened, Petey would no longer exist. He came up north with our weekly animal rescue transport with the temporary name of “Ranger,” and was given a second lease on life.
I brought Ranger/Petey home because my husband and I needed a break from fostering puppies, mainly because our floors needed a good cleaning. So he requested that I bring home a dog that was house trained, and Ranger/Petey fit the bill. He was incredibly skinny, and I wanted to fatten him up a bit before the next weekend’s adoption events. Plus, he looked so much like Milo that I just had to get a few pictures of that matching set before Ranger/Petey found his permanent home.
I walked him through the park all the way to our apartment, about 2 miles, and he never slowed down or became disinterested in the world around him. Dogs, kids, squirrels, flowers, grass, you name it, he wanted to smell it, roll around in it, pee on it, be a part of it. But when we got to the entrance to my building, he froze. His back legs locked up, and he wouldn’t go any further. So I scooped him up, carried him upstairs, and he never left.
There are so many human beings who have been through incredibly difficult times, and have persevered and lived to tell their tales that inspire us all. But my daily inspiration comes from a 17 pound dog named Petey with one black eye and one white eye, who wakes up every single morning incredibly excited to live. Imagine waking up, literally jumping out of bed with a genuine smile already in place, instead of lying there, thinking about all of the errands you have to run or phone calls you have to make, and becoming discouraged before you even set one foot on the floor. Petey knows nothing but pure joy and anticipation at 8 AM. He can’t wait to start the day, because who knows what it will bring? Maybe a great treat? Maybe a trip to the dog park? Maybe a nice nap on the couch with mom? (Definitely that last one.) It could be anything! All Petey knows is that he is loved, the day is young, and there is grass to be eaten somewhere.
Once outside, there is so much to see. It doesn’t matter that the trees on our block haven’t changed since yesterday. To Petey, they deserve a daily hello and their own personal watering (not as helpful as you think, buddy). Every dog we pass by needs to be greeted in a friendly way, no matter how big or small, what breed or color, male or female. Every human, same thing. If someone snubs Petey, it doesn’t bother him. He knows that the world is large and there are many other friends out there for him to make, and he trots forward.
If Petey is tired and you happen to be sitting on the couch, he jumps up and snuggles so close that you can feel his little heart beating against your rib cage. There is no such thing as too close to Petey; he loves love.
I try not to imagine the things that Petey may have gone through before we were fortunate enough to claim him, but I’m sure it involved some cold rainy nights alone on the street, and searching for food constantly, and running away from bigger, nastier dogs. So when he curls up to me, all I want to do is love him enough to make up for the first year and a half of his life that he may have missed out on that. I want him to know that he will never be alone again; Colin, Milo and I are his family now, and he will always have a warm lap to sleep in, a brother to play with, and food in the same place at the same time, every single day.
For a dog to survive what he must have survived is incredible. To survive and only be thrilled by the prospect of living? That takes a special kind of spirit. Every morning, Petey reminds me that each day is a gift, and I should face the world with gratitude and positivity. Even if it includes picking up poop.
If you are interested in adopting a dog or cat and live in the NYC area, please visit http://www.inourhandsrescue.org.