This past May 2014, my partner Craig and I were featured on the HGTV show "House Hunters" as we searched for our Forever Home in the Detroit suburbs, where we returned in August 2013 after living in New York City since 1995. As part of our story, we stopped by the Michigan Humane Society to look at a pair of puppies. Along with our new home, we both knew that we wanted a dog -- or two -- to share it with. But at the time, we weren't quite ready to make the commitment of puppy adoption.
Finally in the spring, we decided we were indeed ready, so we turned to Petfinder to begin our search for a new four-legged furry family member. This was when we first laid eyes on Clyde, wearing his red puffy coat to help keep him warm during the worst winter in Michigan since 1888. Immediately we fell in love.
Something about the way he cocked his head called out "Take me home!" Craig was working out of town at the time I found Clyde online, but I sent him a link to Clyde's Petfinder profile and the feeling was mutual: he was The One.
We planned to go and see Clyde at the Troy Petco when Craig returned from his business trip. Craig showed Clyde's picture to his co-workers and they all agreed that he was the cutest puppy ever and that Craig and I must be sure to adopt him ASAP. But then, a few days later, Clyde's profile picture was marked "Pending." Another family had got to see Clyde first and soon another picture of him appeared on his profile page -- this time with his happy new parents. I sent Craig a text telling him that our Clyde was no longer available for adoption and, sadly, we began looking at other doggie options.
Despite several other cute puppies who caught our eye, none of them compared to Clyde. None had his same sad eyes or cute little head cock, or the brown "eye shadow" mark above the left eye. As the weeks went by, we couldn't get Clyde out of our mind. As we looked at and read about each new dog, we compared them to Clyde -- and wondered how he was doing with his new family, wherever he may be.
Then... a miracle occurred.
As I was searching through the list of available dogs on Petfinder one evening (my new obsession!) I noticed that Clyde's picture had magically reappeared on Petfinder. Again, Craig was out of town working, so I sent him a text to tell him the news. "Yay!" he simply replied.
I sent an email to the rescue organization, Home Fur-Ever, contact address listed on Petfinder, asking if Clyde was again available for adoption. The next day I received a reply, stating that yes, indeed, he was. Apparently the family who had adopted him had another dog who didn't get along with Clyde and therefore, heart broken, they had to return him.
I emailed back and informed Home Fur-Ever that Craig and I were interested in coming to meet Clyde at the next Petco adoption event, if he was going to be there. We were told that yes, he was, and so on Sunday May 4, 2014 we drove out to Livonia. I don't know who was more nervous on the car ride, me or Craig. But we both played it cool. not wanting to get our hopes up too high. Clyde was the cutest dog ever. Surely someone else would also want to adopt him. How were we going to convince the folks at Home Fur-Ever to choose us over everybody else?
When we arrived at Petco, we stepped through the front doors and found the area where all the puppies sat in their cages, barking and yelping and begging "Take me home!" We looked around the bunch... and then we saw HIM, sitting ever so quietly in his cage with two other small pups, resting his jowly head against one of the smaller dogs back, looking so sad with his beautiful brown eyes downcast.
Craig whispered to me, "There he is!" I wanted to cry out with joy, but I didn't want to cause a scene -- nor did I want the Home Fur-Ever folks to think we were crazy puppy stalkers and not fit to adopt this wonderful dog. So we continued to play it cool. We talked to the woman who was running the adoption event, she gave us an application to fill out, and we sat down to go over the paperwork together.
Then we noticed another family -- a man and his two young daughters -- were also looking at Clyde, peaking into his cage, trying to pet him. We did have some competition! And it scared us. Rarely in life does one get what they want. How were we going to end up winning Clyde now, especially when the other family had children?
As Craig filled out the paperwork, I moved over Clyde's cage. Remaining nonchalant, I tried to get his attention to let him know that we were there and that we wanted him more than anything we'd ever wanted. But I couldn't bring myself to stick my finger into Clyde's cage, or to even meet his eye. The last thing I wanted was to get too attached. Especially if it wasn't going to work out.
All of a sudden, the woman from Home Fur-Ever walked over to Clyde's cage, opened the door, and reached in and took him out. The other family was about to take him outside to go for a walk and get to know him better. Another bad sign! But Craig and I weren't about to give up the fight.
We made our way over to another woman who we learned was Clyde's foster mother, Karin. We introduced ourselves and did our best to remain polite and to try to get her to like us. We told her about our episode of "House Hunters" that was set to air the next evening, in hopes that our pseudo-celebrity would convince her to choose us as Clyde's new daddies. Yes, she was nice to us, but she also had Clyde's best interest at heart.
After he was brought back inside, Karin picked Clyde up and brought him over to see us. Craig reached out and began petting him as we continued to talk with Karin -- but I couldn't bring myself to touch him. I didn't want to feel his soft fur, even though it was killing me to resist. This was the puppy I'd had my eye on for so many weeks, and just in case it didn't work out, I didn't want to get too close.
We were told that once our application had been reviewed, if Home Fur-Ever was interested in considering us as Clyde's potential new parents, a home visit would be arranged. We imagined what this was going to be like. Would they bring Clyde to our home to let him wander around and see if he might like living with us? What if they did and he didn't? Oh, no!
A day or two later, Craig received word from Home Fur-Ever that they did want to send someone out for the home visit. We had heard from friends who had also adopted from Home Fur-Ever that it was going to be a grueling process. We cleaned up the house and did our best to doggy proof it. We put up a grate in front of our fireplace, in case Clyde might get curious. I worried about the stairs leading to the second floor... Would they be a hazard?
When Raegen from Home Fur-Ever arrived to meet us, she was very nice and casual. We invited her inside, but we weren't sure if we should ask her to sit. Again, we knew we needed to impress her -- but we didn't want to come off as being insincere or look like we were trying too hard. We showed her around the first floor of our home and then outside in the backyard. We explained how we would soon be putting up a fence, and how we were experienced dog walkers from our time living in New York with a friend and his dog.
"Great," she told us. "I'll let Marilyn know that everything looks good." And then she said, "You can stop by the Petco in Troy this Saturday to complete the adoption." Craig and I both nodded and smiled, and then Raegen went on her way.
"That was it?" Craig and I wondered after she'd left. "We're getting Clyde!" We couldn't believe it. What happened to the other family? Were they not given a home visit? How and why were WE chosen? It couldn't be this easy. Funny, how once you get what you want, you struggle to believe it.
To make a long story short... We picked up Clyde from the Troy Petco on Saturday 5/10/14. When Karin put him in my arms, the first time I'd ever even touched him, he remained completely calm. Even though she cried, which mad Craig and I want to cry, Clyde seemed totally content. Like parents of a newborn baby, it was like we were leaving the hospital and we couldn't believe someone was just giving us this wonderful creature to take home and call our own.
Before we got into the car, I gave Clyde to Craig so that he could hold him and I could take their first photo together. As we got inside, I couldn't bring myself to let Clyde go, so I held him in my arms the entire way home. He didn't fuss or whine. He was totally content because he knew he was finally going to his new Fur-Ever Home.