We had just packed up our lives and moved across the country to start a new adventure as a military family. As we explored our new town one Saturday afternoon, we stumbled upon the local animal shelter.
My husband and I exchanged glances, knowing exactly what the other person was thinking. He quickly turned the car around and we pulled into the shelter parking lot.
“Now, remember,” he said, “We’re just going to look and get a feel for their adoption process. We really should wait until all of our household goods arrive.” I agreed.
We wandered the kennels giving pre-approved treats to the dogs who were allowed to have them, trying to bring some light to their sad eyes. I thought I had reached the end of the kennels until I heard the faint pitter-patter of dog paws behind me. I turned and walked toward the noise and found a scared, emaciated dog with the cutest ears cowering in the back corner of his kennel.
One of the volunteers caught my gaze and said, “He never comes to the front.”
Disinterested in her comment, I slowly knelt by the front of the kennel and began sweet-talking the boy as I tried to get a better look at him. A quick glance at his information paper showed he was presumed to be a one-year-old Husky/Lab mix. I kept talking and saw his tail give the slightest wag.
Tears began to form as he stood up and exposed his extremely thin, malnourished body. He slowly lifted his head to reveal his gorgeous eyes: one brown and one bright blue.
The second our eyes met, I knew he was coming home with us.
I watched my husband’s reaction as he walked toward the kennel and could tell immediately that he was just as smitten. We quickly found a shelter volunteer to take us to the meet-and-greet area. Our hearts broke wondering about his previous home while we watched him cower even further when the volunteer attempted to put a leash on him.
Much to our surprise, he immediately sprang to life in the meet-and-greet area. He ran circles around the yard, jump on myself and my husband, and eventually settled onto the bench with us, carrying a toy in his mouth.
In perfect unity, my husband and I asked, “How do we go about adopting him?”
Some paperwork and a few phone calls later, we were leaving with our new family member, later to be named Kaeto. I’ll never forget the hopeful glean in his eyes as we drove him to his new home.
We have always been dog lovers, but Kaeto changed our world in ways we never thought possible. He helped me transition to a home away from family. He snuggled with me throughout the long, lonely nights without my husband.
He sparked my love of dog training and behavior and taught me about reactivity and body language. Most significantly, he took a piece of my heart when he very unexpectedly passed a year later.
Although our time together was short, I didn’t know it was possible to learn so much from one dog. Kaeto was a continuous reminder that shelter dogs aren’t broken—they simply need to have an impact on the right person.
Kelsie McKenzie is the owner and fur-covered girl behind the scenes of It's Dog or Nothing, a resource for ‘all things Pyrenees.’ She currently lives near Seattle with her Air Force husband and two Great Pyrenees, Mauja and Atka. Kelsie is also a content creator, social media manager, and an avid animal lover.
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