It was April 6, 2013 in Saskatoon, Canada.
A week before, my spouse Steve and I had been invited for supper at a friend’s house. As we crossed the threshold, we were greeted with fervour by a gorgeous, over-zealous, sandy-coloured dog. What struck me first was his unusual build – he was tall and skinny, with rangy long legs and a long pointy nose akin to a Greyhound, yet his soft, mid-length, gold-brown coat suggested Golden Retriever or Labrador. Mysterious breed notwithstanding, he was a real beauty, with captivating yellow-amber eyes and a sleek, handsome face. He was also an outrageous attention seeker, eagerly following me to an easy chair and persistently pushing his furry face under my hand for pets, relishing rubs to his silky flank and smooth belly. I was instantly charmed by his gentle, loving demeanour. My friend introduced this charismatic canine as Tucker, and explained that they were fostering him temporarily through a local dog rescue organization, New Hope Dog Rescue, while his regular foster family were away. And, most interestingly, he was about to be available for adoption.
Steve and I were both long-time dog lovers, having had them in our respective family homes for many years. On that chilly late-March evening when we first met Tucker, we weren’t really looking for a dog of our own – between settling into our new life together and our rented apartment’s strict no pet policy, it just wasn’t the right time.
But this dog was special.
To add to his affable nature, Tucker was an avid food fan (shockingly) and that very first night, we discovered just how much he loved salami. Dinner was ‘make your own pizza’ with lots of tasty fixings to adorn our pies, and when supper was served and we’d we gathered around the dining table, a certain furry familiar ensconced himself unabashed underneath my chair to
beg politely inquire if I could spare any sausage. It was the very first time (of many since) that he stepped on my foot.
By the time I left my friend’s house, I realized just how taken I was with Tucker. I also knew that once his adoption profile was posted online, he’d be snapped up in an instant, so if there was any chance of adopting him, we’d need to act fast.
The problem: we still couldn’t accommodate a dog.
We’d started house-hunting in the city, but had no firm plan yet. Unsure of how Steve felt, I floated the idea of adopting Tucker, and luckily (though Tucker would argue it was pure charm on his part) he was on board, and even suggested a temporary solution to the housing issue. At the time, his parents lived on a sprawling rural acreage in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and Steve’s dad was a former vet. If they’d be willing to care for him in the short-term until we bought a place of our own, there was a chance we could give Tucker his forever home.
Very fortunately for us, Steve’s parents were happy to help. But it remained to be seen if the rescue organization would allow Tucker to be adopted in this way.
As our circumstances were a little unusual, rather than simply applying to adopt Tucker, I decided to reach out to New Hope first to see if they’d even consider our idea. I was upfront about the fact that we couldn’t accommodate Tucker in our apartment for the time being, but that he’d be in Steve’s parents’ care until we could purchase a home of our own. I explained that Tucker would be in the very best hands, staying in a large comfy house on a quiet rural road with a lovely big yard to play in. New Hope were incredibly helpful and thorough in asking for details of Tucker’s living situation at the acreage – whether he’d be allowed inside the house, whether he’d be loose in a yard, or kept in an enclosed area. They also inquired about the timeline for the purchase of our house. Understandably, New Hope explained that they wouldn’t usually consider a situation where a dog would have to go to another temporary home before a permanent one. Ultimately, they asked that both Steve’s parents and Steve and I fill out separate applications to adopt Tucker, so they could get to know more about both households and decide if we could offer Tucker the safe, loving home he deserved. I submitted the paperwork and nervously awaited a decision.
Five days later, on April 6, I handed over a cheque for $225 – Tucker’s adoption fee.
With joy and anticipation we journeyed across town to collect our furry buddy from his lovely foster family (I’m still in touch with his foster mom, Kelly, through Facebook – she loves to see Tucker pupdates!). In the week since we’d met him, we’d learned a little more about him from his online adoption profile (you can still see it here) which told us that he was around 3 to 4 years old, he loved to play at the dog park, and that he knew the word ‘bedtime’ meant to go to where he sleeps, as he still does to this day.
When we picked him up, Tucker was eager as ever and I could see his excitement grow at the prospect of going somewhere as I put him in the back of the car. Initially, he was a little fidgety and anxious, constantly poking his head over the front seat to where Steve was driving. But eventually, he settled next to me in the back, and as I sat stroking his silky soft flank, I tried to imagine how he must feel being bundled off with another set of strangers. It made me so determined to give him the stable, loving home that he deserved.
Still in our pet-prohibitive rental, we had to wave Tucker off with Steve’s parents to Yorkton almost immediately. But we needn’t have worried – between Steve’s parents’ updates and our regular visits, it was clear that Tucker was living the good life. So much so, we were a little worried that he wouldn’t want to come back to Saskatoon with us!
But finally, on July 1, 2013, we closed on our first house in Saskatoon and we were able to bring our baby home.
This weekend marks the eight-year anniversary of the day we first met Tucker. Adopting him is still the best decision we’ve ever made, and I’m so glad that we pursued it. The chance meeting at our friend’s dinner party that brought us together felt like fate, that Tucker was meant to be part of our family. I’m so very grateful to New Hope Dog Rescue for their help, understanding, and for bringing Tucker into our lives. They do wonderful, important work to foster and re-home vulnerable dogs, some of which have come from incredibly difficult and heartbreaking situations. We gladly continue to support them in finding the dogs in their care loving permanent homes.
Needless to say, Tucker is the perfect dog for us – from his adventurous spirit to his gentle demeanour, he’s filled our lives with excitement, entertainment, enough dog hair to fill Wembley Stadium, and most important of all, unconditional love.
Considering that love is priceless, truly the best $225 I ever spent.