In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy here in New York, I wanted to help with the recovery effort any way I could. I bought infant and kids’ clothes and diapers to donate. I gave some money to the New York Aquarium, which was severely damaged in the storm. I couldn’t help with much of the physical volunteer effort because I’m a single mother and children weren’t allowed to come to shelters, nor did I think it was safe for my 7-year-old to be involved in the clean-up of contaminated and/or damaged areas, but I wanted to do something more. Suddenly it hit me: it was time to rescue a dog.
I’ve always loved dogs and had been thinking about getting one for a while. I knew there would be dogs who needed a home after the storm, and I’d heard great things about Sean Casey Animal Rescue here in Brooklyn. I brought my daughter there one day after school, warning her that this might be a long process and that we wouldn’t necessarily find our dog that day. But as soon as I opened the door, I knew our dog was there, and we’d be taking him home that night.
Biejito’s cage was the first one I saw before I’d even come all the way inside the noisy rescue center. The dogs get so excited every time someone comes in they all start barking in unison, and the sound of their throaty cries bounces off the walls and echoes a bit. It could have been overwhelming, but I felt very calm. I locked eyes with Biejito and thought, “That’s him.” A split second later my daughter said, “I think that’s our dog.”
We asked to take Biejito for a walk, and he was thrilled to be outside. I’d never been to that particular section of Windsor Terrace before, so I figured it was best to walk one square block to avoid getting lost. When we rounded the third corner, we came across a woman walking her dog in front of a cafe. I explained to her that we were test driving Biejito and asked if she would mind if I let him interact with her dog so I could gauge whether or not he was friendly. She obliged, and then revealed that she was a vet in the area. I took that as a sign – the second of several – and asked her, “If we bring this dog home tonight, how long do you think it will take him to adjust?” “A few minutes,” she replied. I laughed. “Okay, good to know!,” I said.
We took Biejito back to the center and I told the girl there that I’d take him. She quickly corrected me, “You mean you’d like to apply?” I said yes and she got the necessary paperwork. I texted two friends to let them know I listed them as references and they both texted back, “Are you sure you want to get a dog? It’s a lot of work!” I reassured them that yes, I wanted a dog, even though I knew having one would make for some change. I’d always planned to have a second child, and with each passing year the likelihood of that happening diminishes, so I figured a dog-child would count!
“Well, you got great references, but one wasn’t home. That’s okay though since you said Jenn sent you here,” the girl processing my application told me. Jenn is the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates, and her brother-in-law runs the shelter. “Let me help you get everything you need.”
The staff collected a crate and a cushion and dog food and dog treats and dog toys for us and we rang those up. When it was time to write the check for the adoption fee, I couldn’t help but laugh. I never picked out checks, I just use the sample checks my bank gave me, and each one has a different motif. The next blank one in my book had a picture of a puppy on it. All signs pointed to yes, this was meant to be. This dog, this day, this family. Biejito had been waiting for us. And we waited for him, too. Over the summer, we almost adopted a dog during one of those outdoor drives they set up on the sidewalk to raise awareness for animal rescue, but it just didn’t feel quite right. This, on the other hand, was perfect.
We clambered into a livery cab with all the stuff and headed home. When Biejito got out of the car, he ran right up our steps like he’d always known he was going to live in our house. We took some pictures of him and talked about changing his name. By the next day, we’d decided to call him Buddy. Biejito is a Spanish word (accurately spelled viejito) meaning little old man or friend, so Buddy seemed like an excellent English translation. (And also a better choice than Burrito, which was the runner-up.)
I can’t say those first days weren’t a bit crazy, and I realized quickly that getting a dog really is like having another child. (Did you know you have to dog-proof your home just like you would for a baby, except like way more intensely? They eat everything!) As I noted that first week on Facebook, “Getting a dog is like having a baby that comes out of your vagina able to run.”
Here are 25 more ways I’ve observed that getting a dog is just like having another child, illustrated using pictures of my kids, canine and human:
For those of you looking to adopt a pet: Buddy is a Yorkie Mix. He’s a great dog for kids and grown-ups! He’s very friendly and likes to play, plus he’s the perfect size. Buddy was adopted from Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, NY. They have tons of animals there! Cats, dogs, lizards, birds, even African tortoises that are older than your grandma! The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and eager to send you home with a pet. If you live outside of New York City and would like to rescue an animal, visit Petfinder to locate a shelter near you.
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