Today is the one year anniversary of my adoption of my dog Atticus. I can’t believe that I have spent a year with this amazing dog. One year ago we were both in extremely different circumstances and I normally am not one to believe in fate – but I believe some kind of force brought me and this dog together.
I have grown up surrounded by animals. Both of my parents were animal lovers and they passed that gene onto me. There were always dogs, birds, cats, fish, horses etc. around me for my entire twenty-six years of life. When I finally got my first apartment, it felt insanely quiet and lonely. Where were the barking dogs, the cats scratching? From the second I found myself “animal-less”, I wanted to rectify that. But I did my best to practice restraint. I had a job that required me to work long hours, I didn’t have a roommate to help me, so it wasn’t the right time for a pet.
At the beginning of 2017, I found myself in a much different place than I had the year before. I lost my job, my boyfriend moved in, and I lost my mother. My mom loved animals more than anyone I have ever come in contact with. She wanted and tried to save them all. I jokingly called my home a “feline halfway house” because she couldn’t turn away any animal in need, and lately that was a lot of cats. At her memorial service we asked for donations to the local SPCA, we knew she would have wanted that.
Without a job, I found myself at home with a lack of purpose. What was I needed for? With the grief of losing my mother and feeling of worthlessness from losing my job – I was lost. Doesn’t exactly sound like someone who is ready to adopt a pet right? Well I knew there were so many animals out there that needed homes and I needed something to need me. Maybe that isn’t exactly healthy but I knew I had love to give and I was ready. Anthony, my boyfriend, was much more skeptical. He didn’t think it was the right time, but I persisted and I won.
At that point, I thought it would be so easy to find a dog. There were countless dogs in shelters looking for homes, I would find one I liked and sign the papers and I would be a dog owner! Spoiler Alert – It didn’t go down that way. I spent countless hours on Petfinder, the Lexington Humane Society, local dog rescues – looking for the perfect pet. Anthony and I decided that we wanted a medium sized dog between 1-3 years old. We hopped in the car and drove to the Humane Society and I had a list of ones we wanted to see. We were denied on all of them because we didn’t have a fenced in yard.
We drove to a few rescues in the area and weren’t met with much luck. This was going to be harder than I thought. I spent the next week looking for different options. That Friday I saw that PetsMart was having an adoption weekend in which they brought in a lot of different local rescues. I drove out to check it out. I walked to the back of the store, took a left and laid eyes on Atticus for the first time. He was laying in his crate quietly, not barking or trying to get anyone’ attention. He was very unique, white with black ears and black and brown spots all over him. It’s no secret that I have always wanted a Dalmatian and he was listed as Dalmatian/Beagle mix.
I asked to see him and the volunteer pulled him out and we hung out in a nearby aisle. He wagged his tail and shoved his head into my chest. I needed this dog. They say that you just know, and I never quite believed that but with Atticus, I just knew. He was twenty five pounds, between 8-12 months old, not quite potty trained, but was crate trained. I called Anthony and said I’d found the dog. He agreed to come see him after work. I wasted no time and filled out the application to adopt. In that application I was asked to list all my past pets, how they died, all past residences, and provide a vet reference. This seemed more invasive than a background check.
Top: Atticus’s shelter photo. Bottom: First Photo when we brought him home.
I came back with Anthony and he fell for the dog as hard as I did. Little Riley Muff (that was his name) had done a number on us both. We went to talk to the adoption coordinator – an imposing woman who spent a lot of time yelling. She said she would need to confirm with our apartment complex that we could have pets. I showed her an email and she said that wasn’t enough. At this point our complex office was closed so she would have to call the next day. She also said that she didn’t know if she could let me adopt without a vet reference. We said we’d return in the morning. I was heartbroken – I found the dog I wanted but they wouldn’t let me have him.
I returned in the morning with a pit in my stomach. Magically, the volunteer coordinator was in a much better mood. She had talked to my leasing manager and confirmed I could have a dog and started the paperwork. He was mine. Ok, he was ours. But my name is on his paperwork, as I like to tease Anthony, I get him in the divorce. We changed his name to Atticus, after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.
Our Adoption Photo with Atticus
From that day forward, Atticus has been my partner in crime, my best friend, my support system – everything. I have never met an animal as kind as he is. All he wants is to be near his people. He will lay on the couch with us for hours or play at the park – as long as he is with us. He loves every person he meets and wants to befriend every dog in his path. He is so social, he has never met a stranger. He likes to tear his toys to shreds, pulling out squeakers and spreading stuffing all over the apartment. He has a strange affinity for socks and will steal them out of my drawers. He loves to ride in the car, especially if he can stick his head out of the window. He hates wearing his harness because he knows it restricts his freedom. He aims to please and loved obedience school.
Atticus’s graduation from obedience school
He has more than 300 followers on Instagram, he has run two 5k’s, he has attended Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and he has met Santa. Technically, I saved him but in reality, he saved me. It has been a whirlwind of a year, adding this kind soul to my life but he has brightened every day of the past 365 and I cannot wait for the adventures to come! Follow Atticus on Instagram at @atticusthespotteddoggo
Atticus came from the Woodstock Animal Foundation which operates the Woodstock Spay and Neuter Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Please consider making a donation to them or your local animal rescue.