One evening last September, after a particularly hard day, I found myself looking online at some of the dogs who were available for adoption in some of my local no-kill shelters. I came across this little dog and literally gasped. Her story was sad enough - she had been left in an abandoned house and pulled out of a local high-kill shelter on the day she was supposed to be euthenized.
I looked at her picture, texted her listing to Mike, and to another friend.
My friend said "I don't think you can leave her in a shelter."
Mike said "Are we going to meet her? I mean, you know, if you want to."
Two weeks later she was living at our house, and a month after we adopted her she was taking a lovely beach vacation with us.
Over the past year, she's turned into a fluffly little chubber dog (we call her Sham-WOW after she gets a bath), and although she's still afraid of Mike, she's a sweet little love who just wants to be a good girl. Zorro puts up with her, Dezi thinks she's fine, and the three of them get along really well. She and I bonded quickly and now she waits for me to get home and sleeps nestled in my pillows and sometimes under my head. She makes the best grunty Chihuahua noises, doesn't really bark, loves to go on walks, and has figured out that going for rides in the car is pretty awesome.
Please meet Leelu:
You can see why she had to come and live at our house, right? The resemblance to Allie is stunning, isn't it? They're two very, very different personalities, but with her coat healthy and grown in, she really does look like a small Allie dog.
There's no dog that will ever replace Allie, that goes without saying. But I have loved the opportunity to get to know Leelu, to see who she's turning into, the longer she lives in our house. Just this past Sunday she actually jumped up onto the couch and cuddled with Mike for a few hours, which would have been unthinkable a few months ago.
People talk about the baggage that rescue dogs come with, but we don't treat Leelu like a "rescue". We let her know what's acceptable behavior in our house, we keep her and everyone on a schedule, and then we just let her be who she's going to be. She doesn't fetch and she doesn't play with toys. So what? She sleeps upside down and likes to give Dezi kisses instead.
The most amazing thing about my journey with rescue dogs is watching how they can change, evolve and grow, no matter how old they are or how long we've had them. I can't wait to see how Leelu continues to evolve and I'm just happy to be along for the ride.
Happy New Year, everyone.