We went to the outside run to get acquainted. After a bit of play, but before we headed back in, I sat on the sidewalk to get down on his level. Without hesitation, he hopped in my lap, curled up and looked me straight in the eyes as if to say, "OK, let's go home."
I'd found my sign.
As we snuggled, he even told me his name: Riley. It just popped into my head as we sat there. I made lists of other possibilities, and with each cut, it survived. It was meant to be.
I couldn't take him home that day, as dogs usually go directly to the vet for spaying or neutering. However, it turned out Riley had kennel cough, so he couldn't be fixed yet. When I took him home on the 19th, I was technically fostering him until he was well enough for surgery, after which point I could present the proof to the shelter and make his adoption official.
We spent a few weeks recuperating. I had to feed him baby food because I couldn't get him to eat anything else. (It turns out baby food is pungent enough to permeate stopped-up doggie noses and stimulate the appetite.)
When we went to the vet for his first checkup, she theorized what breeds Riley might have in him. She speculated that aside from the obvious hound, he might also have some German shepherd and beagle in him. Thus, when we want to be fancy, I dub him my "German beagle hound."
Despite my aversion to having to train and housebreak a puppy, I had a fairly easy time with Riley. He was a fast learner and is relatively trouble-free. (Oh, the horror stories I could tell you about my Lab's early years!) His biggest disaster was destroying the cheap, old recliner from my college days that, by then, was pretty much solely for doggie use -- and that incident came only after I had the gall to leave him and return to work after being gone on a 2 1/2-week vacation.
I love all the dogs I've had in my life, but I've never had a bond like the one I have with Riley. He is the most intuitive, loving dog I've ever had. He knows when I'm sad and is at my side to snuggle in an instant, his big, brown eyes full of concern. If tears are shed, he presses himself as close to me as he can possibly get. He gives me kisses constantly.
Those of us in the rescue world often see things adorned with slogans like "Who adopted who?" or "My dog adopted me." It wasn't until I adopted Riley that I really understood what they meant.
Reach Amy Robinson at flips...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.