In May 2014, Vanesa was in her last month of graduate school, poised to take a state board exam and about to move from San Francisco to Oakland. It hardly seemed an auspicious time to adopt a dog.
“I like to say that my bioDOGical clock must have been ticking,” Vanesa says, because suddenly “I simply had to have a dog. I stayed up looking at Petfinder for hours the way other people looked at [online dating sites]!”
When she saw a cute little Chihuahua mix named Jean Luc looking back at her from her computer monitor, her heart leaped, and she knew he was the one. “What got me were the big brown eyes, so loving, and I could just see how much he wanted his own person to love.” He was listed by Kate’s Rescue for Animals in Los Banos, California, and was in a foster home.
During their first meeting, she got “a little wave of cold feet” and said she’d take the weekend to think about it. The fosterer understood and gently took Jean Luc from her lap where he had been sitting.
“The minute she took him,” Vanesa says, “I felt as if a little piece of me had been taken and immediately said, ‘Wait. Never mind. That’s my dog. I don’t need more time.'”
She especially enjoys their mornings together. He is so joyful, as if “he’s remembering over and over again that he got his home and his person. This results in lots of kisses and satisfied groans.”
She has advice for future first-time adopters: “Give it time. The first few weeks are expensive and full of unknowns. I’d only had cats and didn’t realize the level of companionship dogs need and give. Know that your heart will grow. Know that you’ve met a new family member. Get pet insurance. Get a hat and some sunscreen! Make friends with other dog lovers! Make it fun for both of you.”
Jean Luc love has extended to her mother and grandmother. “He has brought us closer,” she says. “Neither of them were pet people while I was growing up, so watching them change into animal lovers is incredibly rewarding. It’s never too late for any of us to surprise ourselves and each other, to find a new capacity, to have more compassion and love.”
Well said and so true.