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Count your Blessings: January 2019

count your blessings san juan

A Girl and Her Dog
How a discarded pound puppy came to my rescue

Little Pauly, aka Iggy, finds a home with us.
Little Pauly, aka Iggy, finds a home with us.

In 2013, when I was the development director for an ASPCA animal shelter in Spokane Washington, I met someone who would become the best friend I needed at a stressful time in my life. He was young, blond with blue eyes, and shy. Pauly was his name, and when I first met him, I thought he was a girl.

I had been pining for a dog since beginning my position at Spokanimal CARE. It was hard not to. But, my soon to be husband was not as enthused. With four cats between us, the responsibility of bringing another animal into our home was not his idea of fun. We were planning our wedding and the added stress of a puppy (of all things) was out of the question. Lucky for me, my birthday was just around the corner and after a week of fostering little Pauly, Patrick caved and we adopted him into our feline-infested family. Pauly became Iggy, and now it’s five years later.

I had never really bonded with my childhood dog, Amber, a neurotic golden retriever. She was my mom’s doting companion and highly protective of her. I became a self-professed “cat person” — preferring the wild-animalness of creatures that fought domestication and allowed me the privilege to snuggle and love them only at times of their choosing. Maybe I related? As a bit of gypsy myself, cats appealed to my independent nature (and still do).

Iggy in his spot on our year-long road trip.
Iggy in his spot on our year-long road trip.

So why Iggy? Why did his blue-eyed stare behind the chain link kennel call to me? The answer is, that I needed someone to nurture and protect. My daughter, then 24, was in college and there was an emptiness that needed filling. Fiances are fine and all, but I didn’t want to be my future husband’s mom. Iggy filled that void and has become so much more since. He is my silent confidant, good listener, and there when I just need a sloppy kiss and cuddle.

Like raising my daughter, having Iggy in my life has had a positive impact on my lifestyle. I go for early morning walks and get to bed earlier. We hike more and get outside more in general. He is a great road-trip companion and adventured with us for an entire year when we traveled the U.S. in an RV. But mostly, during some of my life’s lowpoints, like the death of my mother last year, I have found joy just hanging out and watching Iggy. His big smile and playfulness make me happy. His heavy head in my lap or on my knee is a reassuring reminder that someone still needs me.

Iggy investigates Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.
Iggy investigates Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.

It’s hard for non-dog owners to relate. Dogs can be needy and annoying. But, if you have your own Iggy who brightens your days, you know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to imagine my life before little Pauly showed up in the shelter on a gloomy January day five years ago. I’ve been counting my blessings for him ever since. Here are some of them:

  1. Unadulterated devotion
  2. An excuse to be childlike and goofy
  3. A more active lifestyle
  4. Noticing and appreciating other dogs
  5. Becoming an advocate against breed discrimination
  6. More road trips and camping trips
  7. Having a reason to talk to strangers
  8. A shoulder to cry on
  9. Making me less selfish
  10. His (sometimes) quiet presence
iggy and shelley
Desert hiking together.

I love my cats and their laissez-faire attitudes. Mr. B and Lindy are every bit a part of our family as the Iggster. When I just don’t have the patience to attend to his needy doginess, a quick ankle bump and purry hug are just the ticket. But when I have a raw emotional hole that needs filling, for me, only a dog will do.

I’d love to hear about your special kindred spirit(s). Send photos and stories to:

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