The Day We Began Evolving into a Family

May 17, 2016

What does becoming a family look like? For us, it looked like two rescue dogs. 7 years ago, on this very day, Then-Boyfriend-Now-Husband and I woke up early to travel a couple of hours to North Shore Animal League, the largest no kill shelter in the U.S.. I had received an email from them informing us of a puppy mill they were shutting down and that they’d have over 200+ small dogs to adopt. We were in the middle of apartment hunting and finding that most places were crapfaces* when it came to big dogs so we were looking for a small dog.

There was a line out the door when we arrived, (Apparently, other people were also looking to move in together and get a small dog.) but since we had been there before and knew the layout, I concocted a plan – because I’m the kind of lunatic who thinks she needs a plan for everything. I told TBNHusband to start at the front and I would run to the end and we’d work the room from opposite ends, meeting in the middle.

I made a mad dash when the doors opened and within seconds took the card for a small, apricot poodle. His name was Jersey. A small, adorable, hypoallergenic poodle named Jersey?! Are you kidding me?? Can you say destiny? We took him to the play room and like most of the puppy mill dogs, he was skittish, very nervous, and an all around hot-freaking-mess. I carried him most of the time. He trembled furiously. An old biddy kept walking around us, eyeing him up and haggling me, telling me that if we didn’t want him, she would take him. I looked at her with my best “back up off me” glare.

Back Up Off Me Face

TBNHusband was nervous, “Jen. He’s kind of a mess. He might always be a mess. We might not be equipped to take care of him…Is that sh*t on his foot?”

He did, in fact, have sh*t on his foot but it didn’t matter. I shot TBNHusband the same “back up off me” glare, “This dog is coming home with me… with or without you.” I don’t know how serious I was or how far I was willing to take this, but he bought it. I sat in the backseat with Jersey on the car ride home like a newborn baby.

Everyone – and I mean everyone – upon meeting Jersey for the first time, tried their best to hide their utter shock face. “Ohhh. He’s cute?” Yes. They’d ask it like a question. In fairness to them, Jersey was adorable but maybe only to me. He had been shaven down since his hair was beyond tangled and matted and was all bones and skin. He was a scruffy scene. He looked beat up and like he was walking on a constant floor of egg shells, afraid to walk on tile floors. Or wood floors. Or any floor that wasn’t soft & carpeted because the sound of his own nails tip tapping freaked him out. People had every reason to think we’d made a terrible decision.


Months later, Jersey was thriving…ish. He was afraid of plastic bags, cans, and most inanimate objects but he was walking on a leash and the wood floors of our apartment only scared him a little. We built obstacle courses to build his confidence and were üüüüüber patient but knew we had taken him as far as we could and began thinking that maybe another dog would help where we couldn’t. He needed a buddy.

On May 17, the exact. same. day. of the following year, I arrived at the school I worked at and saw a few boys hovered around a small animal. They didn’t know what to do with the small yet husky, gray dog and the truth was neither did I. She was friendly for a street dog and I knew I couldn’t leave her there. My vivid imagination was already picturing her getting hit by a car and how would I live with that so I threw her into my car and dashed back home where I left her with a can of food until I had a better plan.

That evening, we took her to the vet, gave her a bath, fed her, and took her picture. We made FOUND posters for around the neighborhood but I secretly hoped (and asked the universe) that no one would claim her. My heart sank whenever I picked up a phone call about “a lost dog” and would be followed by a celebratory, silent dance when the dog they were describing wasn’t her. After a week, we discussed what we should do if no one did claim her.

becoming a family

TBNHusband’s response was surprising, “We should keep her.”

I verbally jumped all over that, “Done.”  I wanted to lock it down before he changed his mind.

No one ever did claim her. Husband jokes that I probably stole her but I’m pretty sure she was just always meant to be ours.

7 years have flown by since we walked in to North Shore Animal League and adopted our first fur baby, and our lives have changed so drastically since. We moved from our cozy, little apartment in Westfield, NJ to a breezy island apartment in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We changed our tick box from single to married. We went from no {human} kids to two {human} kids. Friends have come and gone. But the dogs? The dogs have been there the whole way, through every milestone. They are as much family as any of us.

So May 17 is more than just a dogiversary to me, it was the day we began evolving, the day we started becoming a family.

Was there moment(s) that you realized you were becoming a family?

P.S. A mighty dog

Becoming a Family


Dogs at the hospital
Their photos came to the hospital

becoming a family

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  1. crapfaces – made up word meaning people who stink.

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