Adopting a Dog Can Be One of the Sweetest Experiences Life Brings. How It Begins Can Be Surprising.
It’s 30 below Celsius. It’s midnight.
You’re somewhere outside Buffalo, slowly circling the parking lot of a Super 8 to stay warm.
The transport truck is due shortly after 1 a.m.
Headlights appear in the distance, but they belong to a vehicle too small to be carrying the cargo you’re expecting. They soon fall into place behind you, creeping carefully through the tracks you’ve created in the snow. Before long, a parade of cars pace the perimeter together, expectantly. You decide to park and put an end to the curiosity that’s looming in the air like thick fog. The others follow suit and you soon realize you’re all there for the same reason.
That reason: you’re about to bring home a new member of the family.
There’s an elderly couple in a rundown pick-up who are taking home a pair of sibling kittens because they can’t be separated and the young family anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first ever puppy.
People from all walks of life, some travelling from great distances and across borders are all about to help change the life of animals who wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance.
The truck arrives and the driver hops out. You’re humbled to meet this person who dedicates their spare time to transporting these animals across the country -- overnight and through snow storms -- to see that they’re safely delivered to their new families.
The doors of the moving van open and it’s stacked floor to ceiling with crates; some of which contain more than one set of eyes peering out at you. A little black and white ball of fluff is lifted into your arms, slightly stunned, but otherwise happy and healthy. Minutes later, the truck closes up and heads off to another roadside stop in the middle of the night.
Before parting, you all wish each other luck, say your goodbyes, and head home with the animal that warmed your heart more than a car ever could.
That’s how Adelaide came to arrive in Toronto (and A Leg Up’s dog daycare, for that matter) from North Carolina on a cold night in March. Right off the bat, she opened her ‘mom’, Tracy, up to an experience she would have never had otherwise. And that’s the beautiful thing about having a dog; they expose you to people, places, emotions, and adventures that hadn’t been a possibility prior.
A 7 a.m. walk in your pyjamas leads to a conversation with a stranger, who soon becomes a friend, because your dogs have brought you together. You ask their advice, share your own, commiserate over the fact that the streets are always littered with chicken bones (seriously, they’re everywhere), and laugh about the fact that poop is now a permanent part of your vocabulary.
Your life’s purpose now includes doing everything in your power to put a smile on that little ball of fur’s face…even if they can’t technically smile. You speak in voices you never knew you had, your ears are tuned into every sound they make, your sleep pattern adapts to theirs, and, in return, the love you receive is the unconditional kind you couldn’t comprehend until now.
Each year, upwards of 8 million would-be pets find themselves in animal shelters across North America. Never understanding how they got there or why, unable to select a fate other than the one they were offered, waiting for the cage door to open them up to a new life, just as it did for Adelaide.