Three thousand plus views. Fifty-seven families. One dog.
I put an ad online at 10:30PM Monday night and, due to the compassion of friends on social media sites sharing and re-sharing, by the time I woke up Tuesday morning the ad had been seen over 600 times. The first text I got made me burst into tears because it solidified the heartbreaking situation: I had to rehome my dog, Abby. The number of texts increased steadily over the day, until I had fifty-seven families pining for Abby and all I could do was keep up with letting them know we already had people coming to meet her; we'd let them know if they fell through. When the ad hit over three thousand views, the view counter reset. So I stopped counting, too.
You do the math; there were more than enough families to adopt this sweet pup, but it didn't make the task any easier. I adopted Abby a year ago, and planned on having her companionship until the day she took her last breath. She's a Saint. If you've met her, you know that. She's also my best friend.
When I adopted Abby, I was in a rough spot. Living in a constant cycle of shame, I was subject to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and thoughts of self-harm and suicide. I had incredibly low amounts of self-compassion, in fact I borderline hated myself. It was rough. I adopted Abby as an ESA, an Emotional Support Animal. Some people think ESAs are a hoax, but I beg to differ.
One night I sat in the basement room of my summer apartment, browsing search results on Google for "how to kill yourself." Obviously, it was a low low. I contemplated each option, weighing various factors from brevity to success rates. The ability I had to rationally consider suicide was scary. It wasn't until Abby pushed her head into my lap, begging for simple physical attention from her human, that I realized I couldn't do it. I couldn't just leave. I can't explain how her innocent and loving presence helped me move from desperation to hope, but it did. She did. She didn't call down the powers of Doggie Heaven and bring light streaming through the dark windows, but she sat there letting me hold her while I cried until my saltwater tear supply ran out. It wasn't the only time she saved my life.
I have benefited from Abby's friendship in numerous ways. I've been motivated to get up in the morning, to get outside with her, and to play and have fun, when all I really wanted to do was hide from the world and shrink into a ball under my bed. I've been taught that I'm needed: not just for food and water, but for rawhides, and tug-o-war, and playing frisbee fetch, and exploring, and giving love, and sometimes just sitting close by. I've been loved unconditionally by those big brown eyes and thick wagging tail. I've been given companionship, and the reminder that I'm important. I've been taught how to smile and laugh when I didn't feel like I deserved to. I've been taught how to forgive, like that time she ate my Poptarts in ten seconds flat. But more importantly I've been taught how to receive forgiveness, like all those times I've been impatient and short with her, and she's never held a grudge. When my weaknesses place me at fault, she's never treated or loved me differently. And that's a hard lesson for me to fully learn.
In a couple of days, Abby will have a new home. A new family to love. I've tried my hardest to find her a good match, people who will support her adventurous and energetic lifestyle coupled with her continuous need for physical affirmation and cuddling. I think I've done an okay job. But we all know the real success here is Abby's effect on me, and the power one sweet dog has had to completely change my life.
I hope her new people are prepared for their hearts to double in size. I hope Abby knows that I love her greatly and would have kept her if I could. And I hope everyone knows that sometimes it really is the little innocent creatures and actions that can slowly but surely build up a broken and hurting heart.
Here's to more adventures for this gal, and more lessons to be learned for me. Sometimes, they're one in the same.