I adopted my dog, Lily, from the shelter in Humboldt County, California on Christmas Eve after receiving a call from a vet friend that this amazing dog was going to be put to sleep the next day...on Christmas...because the shelter was just too full.
...it was Christmas Eve...the shelter was a couple of hours away on the other side of the mountain pass. But, here I was on the West Coast, away from my family, anyway, and I really, really did want a dog. And, an expert opinion that she was phenomenal... So, off I set. I met Lily, we were soul mates immediately, and she became mine. I spent that night in a rather seedy hotel in Humboldt County, because EVERYTHING else was full, with this new dog that seemed lovely, but that I really knew nothing about. I remember thinking as I fell asleep, "well, I hope she doesn't eat my face..." I woke up Christmas morning, with my face intact, and this beautiful dog who the night before still cringed in fear everytime I moved my arm higher than my hip, curled up against me. The bond was sealed.
Two weeks later my company was hosting a women's conference in St. Helena, CA at this beautiful vineyard there. The night before the event I was carrying my stuff into the vineyard hotel, too much in my hands, an extendable dog leash handle with Lily in tow, and the only hotel in the continental U.S. that still used real keys... Lily was still so skiddish, but we were making progress, I loved her. Then, it happened. My stack shifted. My stuff was slipping. I tripped over Lily, and that damn metal key clanged off of the metal plate of my hotel room, and she was GONE!!! That hard plastic handle of the leash clanging behind her as she ran, making her run faster, and she was GONE, GONE, GONE!! Top that off with the fact that immediately in front of the vineyard was highway 128, at rush hour, and a train going by on the tracks directly across the highway from the vineyard. Behind us, acres and acres of grapes and then, the foothills...and mountain lions and coyotes.
I searched for 3 days straight. The people of St. Helena, saints in themselves, hung fliers for me and searched and searched and searched.
Every weekend for the next month I would go back and stay in St. Helena and search and call and search. Always on the vineyard side because I just felt sure there was no way that do had made it across the highway and the train tracks, she had to be in the vineyard or the foothills.
I prayed. I searched. I never, not once, really lost hope. I would be sad. I had moments of logic when I thought there was no way that a dog, still wearing an extendable leash, would survive in those foothills. It was crazy. But, I was still hopeful.
My Mom, who never wanted me to get a dog, actually finally got to the point of wanting to buy me a puppy...I'm pretty sure she thought I'd lost my gourd.
People started to do that pity thing where they say, "so, I heard about your dog." or "any new news on Lily?" with that look of pity and the sad arm rub and the tilted head and the, my-God-she's-lost-it...so-sad look.
My landlord at the time loved to say to me, "that dogs not coming back... only fools and children are that stupid..." He was a jackass sometimes, but also one of those people you sort of adore for their blatant jerkiness... I know, I'm a glutton for punishment.
Then, 28 days after I lost her, I got a call from a woman who said that my dog was in her yard in St. Helena and off I went. I searched for 6 hours around her area, on the opposite side of the highway from the vineyard, then had to get back up North for an equestrian event.... I hated to leave, but I was so hopeful because that meant she was still alive... and, on the other side of the highway. There were two vineyards, two residental areas and more foothills on that side... more people, more buildings, more places to hide, but also, those damn hills and those damn preditors. I had just arrived home to clean-up and change for the event when I received a call that these people HAD my dog!!! They had her. In their house. Off I went. Event be damned.
So, 28 and a half days after she was lost in a beautiful, yet dangerous, area, full of ticks and mud and filth, my dog was being hand fed tri-tip by the fireplace on the white silk rug in the living of the vineyard owner's home....
It took me a bit to realize that it was really her... it seemed so surreal. I had never lost faith. Not really. But, even I had started to doubt my sanity.
Fast forward 9 years....
Let's be honest, I've been on a pity party break!!
One day into my holiday vacation in which I planned to get a to do list 8 pages long cut through, this whole adoption ban fiasco hit and instead of thinking holiday cheer, I was stuck in fear. I've been stuck in a paralysis. I have always thought we would get "Tabitha" home but I had no idea how... I was confident, but also a bit at a loss on how to fix it. I'm a fixer. I couldn't do anything but wait. When people would ask, I would say, "We're getting her out of there. Somehow, some way." And, there it was, that look... the, oh,-she's-nuts look....
When the news broke today that the 1 year notice on breaking the adoption agreement between Russia and the United States was going to be honored, I realized that I'd been holding my breath since December 28th. And, I knew that I was really going to be her Mommy.
Fools and children, huh? Works for me.