If you haven't been with us since the beginning, here's the back-story:
Sami : Part 1
Sami : Part 2
Sami : Part 3
And now, the conclusion.
Two months later, the sting of losing Sami hadn't quite passed. Natalie's broken heart seeped tears from time to time. (Never mind that she had only known the dog for 24 hours. She still carried the dog tags with her as if Sami were the only pet she had ever known, which, come to think of it, she was.)
And I was humbled, incredibly humbled. I had done tons of research on getting a dog, and if you read my blog, you know I had debated it for months. I had felt very positive about Sami once we made the decision to adopt her. But obviously, I was wrong. Horribly, miserably wrong.
When we took Sami back to the rescue society, we promised Natalie that the idea of a dog wasn't off the table. We just needed a few months to regain our balance as a family, to get through the worst part of winter and to re-evaluate our options.
Thankfully, the people at the Border Collie Rescue Society were understanding and helpful. They were also $300 richer, thanks to the adoption fees we had paid to adopt Sami. It was their policy not to do refunds, but our situation was so pitiful, they decided to amend their rules and allow for a 12-month credit period where a family could adopt a new border collie through them free of charge.
Every few weeks, the society's director would e-mail me with some information about new dogs coming into their system. She was especially sensitive about our young children, who now were flirting with a dog phobia. She really wanted us to find a dog that would be perfect for our circumstances.
As for us, we were praying like crazy. We fully intended to keep looking at dogs for Natalie's sake -- yet we were scared that another bad experience would both terrify Connor and Teyla and turn Natalie's wound into a permanent scar. Talk about precarious. We needed a huge slice of God's wisdom topped with a giant dollop of guidance. (Ummm, yes, I am writing this on Thanksgiving. Why do you ask?)
In mid-February, the director e-mailed me about a dog who had been picked up on the streets of North Dakota in early January. (The funny thing about that -- I'm not sure North Dakota has actual streets.) She was taken in by one of the Border Collie Rescue's foster homes here in the Twin Cities. Two days later, she had a littler of puppies.
The puppies were still young -- and adorable, naturally. But the director was more interested in us looking at the mom than the pups. "She's very sweet, mild-mannered, great with the foster families kids. I think she might be the perfect dog for you. She can't be adopted for another month or so; the puppies will need to be weaned. But maybe that time frame is OK?"
It was. We agreed to make a trip sometime in the next few weeks to the other side of the Cities to see Eva and her puppies. We warned Natalie (and my puppy-loving husband*) that we could play with the puppies, but our home wasn't conducive to a young dog at the moment. ("I can only handle so much poop and pee from creatures at knee-level," I said to Corey.) Our target dog had to be the mom.
On the hour-long drive to meet Eva and Co., we were filled with cautious hope. The puppies were about six weeks at that time -- the perfect puppy age. When the foster family opened the gates for Natalie to see the dogs (And may I just say how sweet this family was? They had three large dogs of their own, and then Eva came along and had puppies in their kitchen. Unfazed, they just moved their kitchen table out, coated the floor with newspapers and put up a large circular gate. Their whole house smelled like dog when we walked in the front door, but they were obviously Dog People of the best kind.) Anyway. When they opened the gates, the puppies came flooding out. Natalie sat down on the floor and was immediately covered in a pile of squirming cuteness. She giggled and giggled and the puppies scampered and licked and fought to be King of the Natalie. We let the puppies have their fun for a few minutes.
Then the foster father put them outside so we could have a chance to get acquainted with Eva without distraction. True to the director's word, Eva was a sweet, sweet dog. She came walking over to us, head down but tail wagging. When she reached our feet, she rolled over, begging for a tummy rub. The whole time we were there, she never jumped or barked or ran around in circles. She just sat and watched and wagged. She was so calm, Corey wondered out-loud if she would ever play. The foster father explained that dogs are often exhausted after birthing and caring for a litter of puppies. (Go figure.) He said she'll probably regain a sense of playfulness as she recovers, but it seemed apparent to him that Eva was just naturally a mellow, kind and patient dog.
(And honestly, to deal with a litter of five puppies when you are only a year old yourself, you'd have to be graced with extra maturity, don't you think?)
Natalie cried as we drove away from the foster family that day, so tender was her heart toward the animals inside. "I'd really like one of the puppies, Mom," she said. "But Eva would be just as good."
Corey and I talked and prayed and debated and prayed and talked. Every 12 hours or so, Natalie would hesitantly say, "Have you made a decision yet?"
What a wonderful day it was when we could finally answer, "Yes. We've made a decision. We'll adopt Eva. We believe she is the dog for us."
We picked her up a week later. Natalie immediately changed the dog's name to Sami Eva, which seemed fitting since the new dog was crowned with the old dog's tags.
And in the months since, Sami Eva has proven to be God's perfect gift. She adores Natalie, is patient with Teyla (who mostly likes to bang at her face, a toddler form of petting) and plays with Connor. She has only had about three accidents in the house, total. She patiently stays in her kennel when we're gone. She doesn't bark (except when a stranger rings our doorbell, and even then, it's just one deep "woof!"), she doesn't jump up, she doesn't pull at her leash. She loves to go on walks and play hide-and-seek and run races outside. But she's happiest just laying at someone's feet, having her belly rubbed.
Everyone who comes to our house is amazed at her sweet heart and calm disposition.
Honestly? I'm surprised too. I never expected to go looking for a dog and, instead, find an angel with black-and-white fur.
*When Corey and I were newlyweds, we ended up adopting four dogs in two months because we couldn't say no to The Puppy. We look back now and marvel at our insanity. That's when we learned we could never trust ourselves around puppies again.