He picked us, we did not pick him.
I’ve heard people say that about their pets before. I’ve always thought it was kind of hookey.
Until it happened to me.
I was sitting on a chair in my living room, watching Oli’s physical therapist Cat work with her, when our lives were changed unexpectedly by fate.
Cat and I were making small conversation about random things, as Oli practiced balancing on one foot.
She suddenly looked up at me and said “Hey! I forgot to tell you something! We got a new dog! Well, not really. We’re fostering a dog. His name is Ziggy and he’s deaf and missing one eye.”
“Really? What happened to him?” I asked, not really thinking anything about it, but interested in hearing what happened to this poor dog.
“They don’t really know. The woman who rescued him got him from a shelter in Dallas. He was scheduled to be put to sleep the next day. I guess he was in a different shelter as a puppy, a no kill shelter, where he had his eye removed because it was punctured. He was adopted out of that shelter only to be surrendered to a kill shelter later. Lynn rescued him from there and then I got him as a foster. Do you want to see a picture?” She asked, pulling out her phone.
“Sure.” I replied, still interested, but really NOT interested. I didn’t want a dog. I didn’t need a dog. WE didn’t need a dog. I was very firm in my rule that we were NOT going to get a dog until AFTER we rented a house with a yard. Right now we lived in a small apartment.
I started repeating this rule of mine as I looked at his picture.
Oh no. I started to get that feeling where I know something, but I don’t really want to know something.
I got the feeling that this dog was supposed to come to us.
“Oh he’s cute!”
Of course I didn’t tell her all of that other stuff. I didn’t need her thinking I was a weirdo.
“So does he have any potential adopters?” I asked nonchalantly.
“He’s had a couple of home visits. Nothing for sure yet. Lynn has to make the final decision on where he goes.”
“Oh yeah. The family that he goes to has to have a yard I’m sure right? Since he’s deaf, he needs a yard to be able to run around in without a leash. Right?” I ask slyly.
“I’m sure. She’s going to be very picky about who he goes to. Especially since he was surrendered. He needs the perfect forever home. I’m sure she’ll want the family to have a yard. Why?”
I see she’s starting to get suspicious.
“No reason. Well. He’s really cute and you know…kind of blind. A little bit. And deaf. I bet we’d be a really good family. But we don’t need a dog. We CAN’T have a dog yet. So…yeah. Nevermind.”
“Well I can ask Lynn about the yard if you want.” She volunteers.
“Okay. If you want. No big deal. I was just curious.” I try to blow it off and hide my disappointment, knowing full well that no rescuer is going to give this dog to a family who lives in an apartment.
And that was the end of our conversation.
For 2 weeks I never mentioned him and neither did she. I honestly thought that he had probably been adopted right away and maintained my “No dog stance” and my firm belief that if something is meant to be it will be.
If he was supposed to come to us? He would.
A few weeks later I got a text from Cat that read “Hey! Can I bring Ziggy over to meet the kids? I think he would like that.”
I responded “Of course. They would love that.”
As soon as he walked up the stairs I was already in love with him. He was so calm and so gentle. He just walked around the living room and then laid down on the floor like that was exactly where he belonged.
Once she arrived I asked her “Soooooo…did Ziggy find a home yet?”
“No! He didn’t! And I forgot to ask Lynn about you guys! Let me text her right now.”
She sent the text, telling Lynn about my family and Oli.
Once Oli arrived home I KNEW without a doubt that this dog had chosen my family. That he had chosen my daughter.
I knew that it WAS meant to be and that I wasn’t crazy.
Well, at least not about this.
I knew that he was meant to be Oli’s dog and he was meant to help her in any way that he could.
I knew that I wanted him to be trained as her service dog.
Ziggy went home with Cat that afternoon and Lynn called me later that night.
“Well he’s actually promised to go to another family, but I just don’t think that they’re the right family for him. He didn’t wag his tail the entire home visit! I just don’t have a good feeling about it. As soon as Cat told me about your family and about Oli, I just knew that this is what he is supposed to do. He’s meant to help a child. When I had him we walked by a school playground one day and he just stopped and started staring at the children. He was so content just watching them. Once I heard that you wanted to train him as a service dog I knew that you were his family.”
Tears filled my eyes as I heard the exact words that had been playing in my head ever since I saw his picture.
Ziggy, Cat, and Lynn came over for a home visit the next day and he’s been with us ever since.
Ziggy became Shaka.
How did this all happen?
How did I look at a picture and KNOW without a doubt, that this was my dog?
How did he bond so quickly with Oli? How did she bond so quickly with him?
It was like they had known each other in a past life and had been searching for one another ever since.
It sounds crazy, but it’s true!
He had gone from wandering the streets of Dallas with a punctured eye, deaf, without a home, to being rescued by one shelter, adopted, surrendered to another shelter, be scheduled to die, rescued, driven to Austin, and ended up being fostered by one of my very good friends.
Why did she just happen to ask me if she could bring him over on that particular day?
If she’d asked just one day later he would have gone to the other family.
If any of these things had happened just a few days later… we would not have him.
OLI would not have him.
It was as if fate had interjected along all of our paths to ensure that this dog came home.
He has never belonged anywhere else.
I know that Oli and Shaka were meant to be in each others lives.
I know that, without a shadow of a doubt, she was meant to love him and he was meant to love and help her.
I wonder if they share a unique bond because she can’t see him and he can’t hear her.
I wonder if they communicate on a level that I will never understand.
When’s she’s sick, like she is today, he never leaves her side.
I have watched them both for over 4 hours now and he has not budged.
He has not left her.
Something tells me…that he never will.