The story of a broken heart healed and a tiny life saved
In the beginning, I did not like my dog. I was adamant that he was going to be my husband’s dog and I was going to have nothing to do with him. I was still mourning our first dog and I refused to have my heart broken again by bringing another one into the house.
Our first dog was amazing. He was an Icelandic Sheepdog Border Collie mix and was brilliant. This dog had the IQ of a three-year-old, only needed body language for commands, and loved to people watch. I felt like he needed a rubik’s cube or sudoku puzzle to keep his mind stimulated, but toys were beneath him. His only fault was that he had some halitosis that would peel paint off the walls if he breathed too hard. Other than that, he was perfect. Then — one day — old age caught up to him and like all dogs, he went to heaven. My heart broke and I knew we would never have another like him again.
One day, I returned home from work to see that my husband wasn’t there (which was very unusual for our routine). In fact, he was late walking through the door by several hours. When he came home, I could tell he was a little sad. I asked him where he was and he responded, “I went to the animal shelter.”
My eyes instantly locked on to the car to make sure there were no four-legged creatures hiding in the back seat. To my relief, there were zero. However, I could not help but to ask “Why did you go to the shelter?”
His response, “I was lonely.”
I felt my heart crack a little, my stubbornness relax, and my soul finally caved in. I realized at that moment that I was breaking the promise I made to myself that we would not get another dog. Scrunching my lips, I swallowed my pride and let the words spill out of my head, “Fine. We can get a dog, but I am picking it out.”
My husband’s eyes lit up, I bit my lip, and I went to the computer to start looking at the local dogs up for adoption. When I narrowed my search to three, I started doing research on each of their breeds and even took some tests to help determine if they were compatible with our personalities.
The next day, my husband and I met up at the pound. I walked in as a stone-cold-alpha female. I was on the hunt to find a dog for my husband that I was willing to put up with. Down the line, I pointed my finger to pull each of them to see how they were when not around other dogs. For hours, I examined them one by one.
None of them seemed to click with us. I was about to give up and started to think about what I was going to say to my husband if we left the shelter with no dog. I started to rub the back of my neck in attempt to relieve the building stress knowing that I was potentially going to be a roadblock to my husband’s happiness. Then, I passed him….
The Rat Terrier.
I looked at his scrawny flea-bitten body and could not help but to think he was going to have some mental baggage. Was he a bait-dog? Is he an asshole? Is he even housebroken?
I laced my fingers through the metal fence and got a closer look at him. Going down my mental checklist, he fit all of the criteria I was looking for:
✔️ Short hair
✔️ Older dog
He even fit in one of our “Top 3 Most Suitable Breeds for My Personality” based on the countless surveys taken the night before. I asked the caregiver to remove him from the kennel and we took him to the sitting area so I can observe his behavior.
As soon as we sat on the couch, he sat in my husband’s lap and was strangely calm. I could not help but to think, “This dog is sick. As soon as we get him back to health and to the house, he’s going to be a jerk.” However, I could not help but feel at ease with him. Something inside of me clicked and I knew he was the dog for us.
We walked up to the desk and told the caregiver that he is the dog we want to adopt. To this day, I’ll never forget her response, “That is a relief to hear. He was on the list to be euthanized this week.”
I looked down at him and could not help but to think, “You’re welcome, little dude.”
Despite initially walking in the shelter with an ice cold heart, a part of me wanted to adopt each one. However, I knew I couldn’t. However, I was relieved I got to save one who had his days (literally) numbered.
We filled out the paperwork and he was home with us. As much as I wanted to name him Shark Bait, I declared that he was my “husband’s dog” and should be the one to name him. As a result, he decided on Short Round based on the orphan boy from one of our favorite movies, Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. Once we got him home, we got him to a healthy weight, healed his open wounds, and quickly taught him that our house was a safe space.
Short Round kept his distance from us in the beginning. He started laying claim to the couch, patrolling the back yard, and became more lively when a bag of toys were brought home. Because he was supposed to be my husband’s dog, I thought Shorty would seek him out first for love, affection, and playtime. Instead, he came to me. Each time he sat at my feet, I would shoo him away and tell him, “Go find Jimmy.” He would cock his head, bring me a toy, and I was giggling at him by the end of the week.
Over time, Shorty shifted from “My Husband’s Dog” to “My Dog.” Each thunderstorm, I swaddle and assure him that he is safe. When we sneak off to Starbucks, he knows he can ride in the front seat to snag a puppuccino. At night, we allow him to sleep on our Tempur-Pedic mattress. I even allow him to snuggle under our bamboo sheets next to my legs so he stays warm. Trust me, this Rat Terrier is pampered and has it made.
I am not sure how, but this little pooch managed to fill the cracks of my broken heart. Somehow, I think we were able to fill in his invisible cracks too. I know the day will come that my heart will break again when he goes to heaven to be with our first dog, but that’s okay. I’m convinced more than ever that dogs are angels without wings and when they return to heaven, they get their wings back.