It’s just one of those things. It can’t be described and yet to really understand it, you have to experience it yourself. Love. But this time I’m not talking about love for a certain person, or friends and family. This time, I’m talking about love for an animal. More specifically a pet and for me that’s my dog Landon. Since the day I adopted him, I haven’t stopped talking him. Those who know me well know that I have wanted a dog pretty much for my entire life. Growing up I begged my parents for a dog but because of my mom’s ‘allergies,’ I couldn’t have one. As I got older I found out that it wasn’t allergies so much as a fear of dogs. She was attacked (not severely) by a dog when she was a child and has since been afraid of them. I can understand with being fearful of large dogs, bust she was also wary of the small ones, which I thought was crazy.

In 2010, I really wanted the companionship of a dog. I live at home (my mom and I co-own the house) and at the time was still in school. We discussed her fears, her concerns and the expense of owning a pet. I was also working, so I was more than happy to take on the expense of being a dog owner. After a good year and a half of discussions (guess where I got my stubbornness from!) I finally, I convinced her that getting a dog was a good idea. Or at least, that me getting a dog was a good idea. I decided that I wanted to adopt because I know that the shelters are full of animals just waiting to be added to a family. Also having done my research, I found adoption costs to be cheaper. Being a student, saving some money was an important factor.

I started with looking at the Edmonton Humane Society because I had written an article about them for a local magazine and knew that they were a great place to adopt from. There were and still are so many great creatures to choose from and that made it difficult to pinpoint just one. If I had my way, I’d adopt them all! A friend of mine had recently adopted a dog from WHARF – Whitecourt’s Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation – so I figured it couldn’t hurt to look there as well. I was in the process of educating myself about adopting and owning a dog, so I was really only just looking. Until I saw him. Landon. Once I laid eyes on that it was so hard to tear myself away. He was beautiful. A Shepard Husky cross with tan, white and black fur. And those eyes! One brown and one blue eye stared back at me, looking so incredibly sad. I wanted to bring him home right at that moment and hug him forever. Impulsively, I hit the “Enquire Now” button under his description on the website. I just had to know more about that fuzzy seven month old guy. Then I told my mom. She was taken a bit aback but saw his pictured and agreed that he was cute. I received a phone call a little while later that evening from the girl who was fostering Landon. Her name was Lisa and she asked me a bunch of questions (I have no idea what, as I was so excited) and then asked if I’d like to meet him. Of course I said yes and we set up a meeting a few days later.

My mom came with me, as she needed to be comfortable around whatever dog I decided to get, and when we stepped into Lisa’s house we saw Landon and fell immediately in love with him. He, however, was not so smitten. He was TERRIFIED! We told Lisa that we would discuss things over and that we’d be in touch. The moment we drove away we began ticking off a list of things that we would need to get for him. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. There was nothing to discuss. I was adopting Landon and that was that. We went and picked him up the next day.

I wish I could say we lived happily ever after from that moment on, but the first night and next day with Landon were not easy. The first night he wouldn’t move off of the back stairway. So I placed a fluffy pink blanket down for him to sleep on and took a place on the couch so that he could see me. Poor guy was just panicking. Not that I could blame him. He was taken from the only real home he knew and sent to live with strangers. In the morning when I let him out to do his doggy business, he made a beeline to the greenhouse and parked himself as far from me as he could. It took me an hour and a half and about gallon or two of tears later to coax him out and back into the house with me. At that point I was exhausted, as I hadn’t slept much the night before and the crying had drained me of any energy I had left. I was questioning my decision to adopt him as I really had no idea what I was even doing. Once I had finally calmed myself down, I was able to think clearly again. I had to remember that this was all new to him and very scary. It couldn’t have been easy on him being left at the pound with his brother at a young age, brought to a shelter, separated from his brother and placed in a home, and then taken away from that home. All this in only seven months of age. And who knows what happened to him before the pound. Was he abused? Was he abandoned? No one can ever be sure.

After reminding myself of this, I just worked on getting Landon to feel at ease around me. I had taken the day off work, so that I could help him settle. I tried to talk to him and pet him. In the early afternoon, I grabbed the pink blanket from the back stair way and spread it on the floor and he shyly laid down. I sat next to him and just stroked his back. After a few minutes, he seemed to relax so I laid down next to him and held him to me. We both fell asleep and three hours later, I had acquired a new shadow. Landon must have realized that I wasn’t going to hurt him and that I wanted him to trust me. From that moment on, I knew that I would love and protect my puppy for as long as I live.

It’s been ten months and I love him more and more each day. He’s been my confidante, my workout buddy and my best friend. Yes, I know how cliché that sounds, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Landon may be “just a dog” to some people, but to me he has truly been a miracle. 2012 has been a struggle with many tragic and hard times. Landon has been the one thing that has literally gotten me out of bed some mornings. Mornings when I could have just pulled the covers over my head and cried. He has saved me from being swallowed by a major depression. I knew that because of him, I had to get up because his basic needs needed to be met. Even if I didn’t eat, I knew he had to. If I didn’t want to go outside and feel the sunshine’s rays, he needed to be walked and I had to take him. When I didn’t feel like or want to smile, he would do something so adorable that I just couldn’t help it but to grin and laugh. Even though I technically chose him to be my pet, I think that he may have actually chosen me. He has truly taught me what unconditional and unwavering trust and love is. He’s taught me patience and kindness that I didn’t know I could possess. I know that I am not perfect and I don’t claim to be, but when I look into the eyes of my beautiful boy, I feel like I am.

I read a quote somewhere that says something like “let me be the person that my dog thinks I am.” I agree wholeheartedly. If I can even be half that person, I know that I’ll have made a difference in a life somehow. And for me, even if it’s just his, that is all I need. Landon in more than just an animal and just my pet. He is a living breathing creature with a heart and soul. And I don’t care how crazy it sounds but he will always be a part of my soul. I pray that he lives a long and happy life. And I know that my future will consists of more dogs whether it is during my time with him or after. But he is my first dig and he has taught me so much and I will be forever grateful to him for what he has brought into my life. He will always be a part of me. He will always be my heart. He is my dog and I love him.

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