Somethings are just meant to be, no explanation, no rational reason, they just are. Somewhere a song is sung, a ripple forms in the water, a door closes, a window opens, and a dog finds its way back to its forever home.
It’s been a week to the day that Winston died, and this household has been a very changed, quiet place. The dogs have been upset and grieving as have I. Then this morning we woke to the smell of gas. Flinging open the windows, we called the gas hotline and quickly the emergency crew arrived to locate the source and shut down the gas line. It was a small issue, one quickly resolved but it meant that we were all home for the day, an unlikely occurence. We had food we intended to donate to the local animal shelter and now had the time to do it. I checked the computer for address and hours of operation for the Montgomery County Humane Society.
There on the website was a picture that riveted me. Up for adoption, dog 151 who looked remarkably like Winston. I tucked that picture into my head, gathered up the food and we left for the shelter. I checked in and we waited for our name to be called to state our business. Upon hearing my name, I approached the desk and they gave me a slip, asked what dog I wanted to see and directed me to the back towards the kennels. I didn’t correct them.
Through the door, past kennels full of dogs needing homes. I averted my eyes, my heart sore. We approached a cage, I looked down and nearly fainted. There he stood, tail waving, face open and smiling, his entire body shaking in happiness – Dog 151. He looked just like Winston, almost identical. The attendant hooked him up to a leash and we took him outside, all the while telling us he just came in yesterday. He was neutered, 4 years old, and had been rehomed twice. We looked at him, he looked at us, and I heard myself saying “we want him, we want to adopt him”. There was never a moments hesitation.
She handed us a slip of paper. How can something so flimsy carry such weight? It meant that he was taken. How I hated leaving him there in the kennels while the routine paperwork had to be filed.
There were pages to fill out, and pages of information about him to be received. Instead of having to wait for an interview, somehow someone was available to interview us immediately instead of the usual waiting period. As we sat and waited for our name to be called, Lori had been looking over the paperwork. I was focused on the staff, then I heard Lori call my name in an odd tone of voice.
“Melanie, his name is Winston.”
“His name is Winston!!!!!”
Disbelieving, I looked at the paper she was holding up. There, plain as day, next to the name for the dog being given up was the word Winston. Dog 151 was Winston. The tears that had been threatening from the moment I saw him spilled over. The staff asked about the tears and the story of Winston poured out. Even they thought the series of events unlikely. The wonderful person who was our adoption counselor. Addie Soares who interviewed us had Winston brought in and he was as much a part of the interview process as we were. Sitting at our feet, body wagging a mile a minute, it was clear to all we were a family. We talked some more and then she asked if we wanted to take him home today. The answer was a resounding “yes”.
We had been warned he would likely bolt because of past issues so they gave us all new tags, harness and collar. We keep a leash in the car just in case a dog needs to be rescued. Out to the jeep we went. Winston took one look at the car and leaped for the seat. The ride home was a breeze as he sat safe and interested in my lap. Then we were home. Questions formed in my mind. What would Willow and Kirby think?
I shouldn’t have worried. Willow kissed him, and Winston kissed her back. Kirby came running up, happy to greet him. Turns out Winston was just as overjoyed to see Kirby. We employed the usual tactics to introduce new dogs to each other but really we needn’t have bothered. Much sniffing ensued, much licking ensured, much peeing ensued, and they were fine. So were we, again.
Now we are all ensconced on the bed, watching The Voice, and the dogs are sleeping peacefully next to us on the bed as well. This is why king sized beds were invented. Winston’s feet are moving in his sleep, his brows moving in tandem. His slumber is full of dreams. Willow is curled up on her pillow and Kirby is doing his normal imitation of a teenage boy, unmoving and splayed out. We are at peace, and we are whole once more.
There are certainly differences between them as it should be. One is not the other. One is not the replacement for the other, and their differences are to be celebrated. This Winston has a long undocked tail, and a wide open personality. This Winston lacks the arduous back history of my other Winston. That Winston was wary of new circumstances, never taking treats or unfamiliar food. This Winston took two treats immediately and then looked for more. But there are also similarities. The huge personality that says I will not give in, that persistent nature, hearty spirit and indomitable soul.
He is sleeping on his back now, at ease in posture and attitude. Winston knows he is home.
They had asked us if we intended to keep the name Winston. I looked at him, and thought of all the things that came together for us to become a family, and replied “yes, that is his name.” He is Winston, a different Winston but Winston none the less. Different but equal.
A song is sung, a wing beats on the wind, a direction is chosen, ripples form and a dog comes home just as another leaves. Who is to say how these patterns are formed, and the paths chosen? Somehow I know this was meant to be and Winston is smiling down upon us. I will always love my Winston and miss him. I will celebrate and welcome this Winston’s homecoming.
One is mourned and one is found. A home is made whole as is a heart. I swear I hear a song and a bark in the air…..