Our “Other” Child

I guess you can call me sentimental, keeping cards and letters, remembering gifts I’ve received and who sent them, and remembering special dates. This week, I am celebrating an anniversary. However, it’s not what you may think….

This week, our family celebrates our second “anniversary” with the newest member of the household, our beloved dog, Bonnie. We adopted her from a shelter two years ago, although it feels like she has been here forever.

Always animal lovers, my husband and I come from animal enthusiasts on both sides of our respective families, raising a menagerie of pets together since the day we got married.  At one point, we had four dogs, three cats, and a turtle, all at once! Each had their own personality.  They were our “practice” kids, before our amazing daughter was born.  Now, I realize that experts advise against humanizing pets, but anyone who has ever loved a dog knows that is nearly impossible!  Our terrier, Phoebe, was the “little mother”, fussing over our daughter as a baby as if she were her own pup.  When my daughter would cry in the middle of the night, Phoebe would pace back and forth, making sure I was wide awake to comfort her.  Our Dobermans were both sweet, gentle giants, and our Cocker Spaniel… well… he was my “trouble” child.  Cute as he could be with big, soft ears that smelled of peaches after being washed, that dog could also channel the devil!  I also think he was part goat.  He ate everything, food or nonfood.  Nothing was safe.  We once had friends over for dinner and one left a jacket on the back of a chair. When we came back, the jacket had been made into a vest.

Smart and loving as all of our previous dogs have been, Bonnie’s different.  It’s like she was meant to be with us, as if we “custom ordered” her. She just “fits”.  When she came to us we had recently lost our doberman, Dino, to cancer.  Our hearts had been broken, our house seemed empty, and our elderly Phoebe was depressed, as were all of us.  My husband came across Bonnie’s picture on the web and emailed it home.  It was love at first sight.  Here was this beautiful husky-shepherd mix, who was smiling in the photo, with these big, silly, PINK ears on top of her head.

After contacting the shelter, and following all the procedures, the big day came to pick up our baby. Told she would be ready at eleven on that sunny morning, I was so excited and nervous, I vacuumed the whole house.  Twice.  Finally, the time came to pick Bonnie up.  We arrived a few minutes before our appointment time, and a shelter volunteer was walking her. Bonnie looked like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. She was BOUNCING. I got a bit nervous, but I knew that she had recently spent eight weeks in a crate, and was still a pup.  After introductions, within minutes Bonnie seemed to know we were there to take her to her forever home.  Sitting in the backseat, she was ready.  When we stopped at the pet store to get a new collar and leash, she would cry if one of us went out of sight.  At home, she settled in quickly, and before long she and Phoebe were buddies, too.

As long as I live, I will never forget the school bus pulling up that day. The bus slowed to a stop, and there were tons of little faces pressed to the windows, to see if the new puppy arrived.  There was my daughter, her face beaming with pride and happiness.  She and Bonnie were best friends from the start.

Not too long after, Phoebe passed away from old age, and Bonnie stepped up to be the only dog.  My daughter refers to her as her “sister”.  For a time, they were both seven (Bonnie being one human year, or seven dog years).  I would say I had “twins”!  Bonnie’s very smart.  She knows when it is time for the school bus, which shoes I wear to walk her, and rings a bell when she wants to go out.  She understands many words, follows commands, and does a bevy of tricks.  She knows when one of us is sad or sick, loves to snuggle, but also loves a long walk or playing outside.  She makes me laugh, and melts my heart with her childlike eyes.  She loves us all, but she and I have a special bond, even sharing a birthday!  We just “get” each other.  My husband teases that she may be my soul mate.

Our vet agrees there’s a possibility Bonnie may have had some sort of trauma before coming to us, but she’s blossomed into the best pet anyone could have, trusting us wholeheartedly.  We delight in spoiling her.  She’s our “furbaby”, for sure. Cats, dogs…I have truly loved all of my animals, but it seems like the rescued ones know they were rescued.  Bonnie is certainly no exception.  She has earned her special day and will celebrate with a dog treat sundae.  In this season of counting blessings, she’s near the top of this Suburban Farmgirl’s list.

  1. Holly says:

    Nicole, your story brought me to tears – there is indeed something special about that dog’s heart. They know you like no-one else! Congratulations on your anniversary, and may you have many, many happy more.

  2. Janice K. says:

    What a wonderful story to start my day! I also have a PERFECT dog named Blue. My husband called me from a job site and said ‘Do you still want a puppy???’ When I bounded out to open the van door, I saw a large dog, complete with huge ears and feet, curled up on my husband’s coat. It seems Blue had been surviving on grasshoppers and mice…He was about 4 months old and 37# of bones. The plot thickens when we found out that he is a wolf hybrid! He is also a perfect match for us! He loves the outdoors and is never ‘needy’. In short, the best fit for us…

  3. CC says:

    Oh Nicole — thank you for adopting a shelter dog (and not thinking they are ‘broken’ because they are in a shelter)! I truly believe that you get the dog you need rather than the dog you may think you want. Each of them have their gifts & lessons for us and our lives are enriched with their companionship — you have the perfect examples of that! – From the dog mom of three shelter dogs who have taught me patience, to live in the moment, to play like crazy and to rest when it’s needed!

  4. Karen says:

    I too love animals and right now our home is blessed with 3 dogs (SMALL,Jack Russell/Cairn Terrier mix; MEDIUM, Cockapoo; and LARGE Chocolate Lab) and 1 cat. The lab came to us right after Christmas last year after someone dumped her. When we took her to the vet to be checked out and get her shots, she was diagnosed with Heartworms. The vet told us we had some decisons to make. My eight year old daughter spoke before I did and said "WHATEVER IT TAKES". She saved that dog that day! She is approximately 3 years old per the vet and she has some training and had been spayed prior to coming to us. She is my wild child too, but we love her and she makes my daughter and I feel safe. The cockapoo was adopted through a foundation and the Jack Russell/Cairn terrier was found from an individual on Craig’s list. The day after we got her the owner told us somebody poisoned the remaining dogs the next day. The cat is also from an individual giving them away. All of our pets are spayed or neutered and part of our family. Some consider our pets lucky to have us, but my daughter and I consider ourselves the lucky ones.

  5. JANET says:

    What a beautiful girl she is.I am a grandmother to several furbabies as well as regular babies. They really do become part of the family. After my cat of 18 years had to be put down due to cancer I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it again. With all of the furbabies from my daughters ( 1 morkie, 1 white german shepherd,1 orange kitty, 1 black and white kitty and one really huge long haired cat named Freak who thinks he’s a dog), I’m starting to think I may want another. Or two or three. They are like potato chips , it’s hard to stop at one. Happy Anniversary and I hope there are many more to come

  6. Oh, How I loved this article. I too have rescue dogs. My dear Annie girl was in a horrible puppy mill and left to fin for herself as she was a mistake, they said. Ugg ! She came to live with us 3 years ago and had many issues. But she loves me completely and was there when my husband passed away in July . I have 3 other dogs all rescues, but Annie has really grown and changed. My furbabies miss their Daddy as do I. We mourn and are learning to go on without him. I’m so grateful for my babies and so blessed in reading your article!

    Thanks so much… hugs from one of your MJF sisters… Kristy aka eggfarmgirl

  7. Happy Anniversary to your family and Bonnie. I too am an animal lover. I must admit I do humanize my pets, against the professionals warnings not to. At the moment I only have four dogs. Taylor, a husky/australian shepard mix, Moondoggie, a Jack Russel Terrier, Coco Channel, a hmmmmm…some kind of terier/chihuahua mix, and Zorro, an Queensland heeler. Shadow passed away on my son’s 21st birthday, and Duncan, my daughter’s beloved cat passed away this past September also. Those were the last two animals that we had as a "family". Reminders of my children’s youth and the happy times they brought us. I still get tears in my eyes as I remember them. Shadow did not know he was a huge lab mix that weighed over 100 pounds and prounced around like a jackrabbit; he lived with us 14 years and the doctors told us he would not live past 7 because he was too big. Duncan, doctors told us would not live past 8 years, but passed away faithful to the end at the age of 17. He was the exact replica of Garfield. I know I talk about my pets as if they were my blood, but it is so hard not to when they go through more with you than any human does. Life is not complete without a pet, at least for me. Enjoy Bonnie for many more years to come! Thank you for you post.

  8. Therese T. says:

    What a lovely story. Thank you for this; I also believe rescue dogs are best!

  9. Vicki says:

    We’ve had two rescue dogs, and they have been the best dogs ever. We felt we were meant to have them, as if someone said, okay here are your people, to take you home. Our first dog had many health issues, but we quietly paid the vet bills, as he was a member of our family and that’s just what you do.

  10. Carmen says:

    Nice story. Next week is the eleventh anniversary of when I adopted my male cat Pumpkin. I adopted Cara Marie 6 months later. They are the best company possible. They act like my children when they were little so it’s impossible not to humanize them. She hates it when he puts his paw on her head, you can tell he does it on purpose to make her upset. She asks for food for him when he’s hungry or to have his hair combed since I make him wait (he likes to eat every four hours). I fell in love with him when I first saw him but she actually sneaked out of the room where they had her in and had my daughter follow her to the adoption room. I wasn’t planning on another cat but I couldn’t resist. Happy anniversary.

  11. Goddess in the Groove says:


    what a fabulous dog Bonnie is. She has it in the eyes :). I had a husky/shepard, Caesar, who was my first child. 17 years we spent together :). A few months before he passed, we got Rex, our giant, furry, rambunctious GS. We rescued him from a backyard breeder, and I often said he was sent to "test my patience" :). I did not think we would survive the first year. But we did, and he is the perfect dog for us, and I think we were meant for each other. He is my son’s brother from another mother, that’s for sure, lol.

  12. Debbie says:

    Happy Anniversary Nicole! She is a beautiful dog inside and out.
    We celebrated our " little boys " second birthday in September.
    He came to us because our daughter had a passion for dogs…I grew up with all things furry, too and it seems like my father was always bringing home stray dogs, but my hubby’s side of the family wasn’t so critter inclined when he was a boy despite that he always wanted a puppy of his own. It took a bit of doing ( begging, talking, more begging, promises of constant care and love from our daughter, more begging ) until I finally caved in and began researching breeds. We fell in love with Corgi’s, found a wonderful breeder and Max came home to be with us two years ago on December 7th. She trained us well and indeed we have a loving, well trained dog now. She also   warned us about humanizing him but we call him our " little boy", and we refer to ourselves as mama and papa when we talk to him…He even has papa time in my husbands lap! He’s the perfect fit for our family and we are all crazy about him, but guess who is especially fond of him?
    We all say he’s the best Christmas present ever.

    Thanks for sharing your heartwarming story….


  13. Margie says:

    I have 4  furbabies, cats. Which one would I part with,  you might ask.  Not a one. They all mean something to me. My late husband picked the oldest one out. My niece gave me the second one just after my husband died. A library patron gave me one after my first cat disappeared for three months. That left me with 1 cat. So I readily accepted another one. Then my Lord Albert came back and did not tell me where he had been, three cats. I have a liking for black cats. One showed up at my sister-in-laws, guess what? Yes, now I have 4 cats. Love them all. Gets kind of uncomfortable at night when all 4 hop in my twin bed with me. But I love everyone of them. Why pay a lot for animals when they can be had free, either from a human society or strays. Have a good day.

  14. Karen says:

    Great story and what a great dog. It’s amazing how we love these animals unconditionally and they do the same as well. Rescue animals are the best like you said. They know they are truly loved and you truly want them.

    Keep the great stories coming…. Happy Holidays!

  15. Harry says:

    Very well written, Nicole. So very happy for you.

  16. Karrieann says:

    …beautiful story. I totally understand!

  17. Margaret Taffi says:

    Love your story about Bonnie! I haven’t had a pet for quite awhile and have been thinking of going to the shelter to find a friend and your story makes me want to even more! Thank you for sharing with us!

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