Since I was a child, I remember our mutt Ratso dragging me across the floors of our home in a playoff manner, giving me the time of my life in that moment. Dogs have always been a big part of my life as until I turned 21 years old I had never lived in a home for an extended period of time without one. We had gone through two family dogs and were on our third by the time I moved out, and I stored photos of our last dog on my phone as if she was a child of my own. One of the biggest signs of personal growth and development in my relationship with my wife came when she proposed the idea of getting a dog to me when we were looking for a new place to live – after my wife succumbed to three years living in a place she abhorred for the sake of saving money and appeasing my fear of change. Nothing was more motivating for me – in regards to moving out – than living in a place in which I could finally have a dog of my own.
It was not an ideal time to be looking for a new puppy. Dog sales really took off in 2020, according to interviews done by the Washington Post there were twice as many dogs being adopted in 2020/2021 as there were the year prior. Much of this was driven by the pandemic that saw people searching for companionship in a period of isolation and there is no better companion than man’s best friend. As we began our search we were met with rejection from some rescues, and flat out shoddy management and neglectful responses from others. As is true for many things in life, the wait was worth the reward. The week before May 10th we were notified by Pup’s Place Animal Rescue on the north side of Chicago that we had been one of five selected to adopt one of five adorable puppies that they had under their watch. As Mother’s Day weekend went on the wait was excruciating as my wife and I were technically the last couple approved so we would be given the last of the litter, but they were all fantastic and there was not much concern with who we were lucky enough to adopt.
On May 10th we approached a house with a white picket fence that looked like it was the home to someone who was the secondary occupant of a house run by dogs. As the door flung open a cute, 10-pound mutt was eagerly awaiting our arrival. With big dark eyes and a golden-brown coat, she was not even the slightest bit weary of our presence. My wife was not a big dog person as a child, but our little Crede – the name we had already picked up for her after White Sox legend Joe Crede – changed that perception in under a minute. She rolled around on the floor happily running between my wife and I as if she knew we were there for her. On the car ride home she clung to my wife’s lap like a rock climber holding on to the side of a cliff.
As we pulled into our new home with our new dog, I could feel our family coming more and more together. Crede has been a fantastic dog, and I am not just saying that. She has been loving, intelligent and a fast learner. Better yet she has turned my wife into someone who I now question was not a dog person. Don’t get me wrong, dogs are a lot of work. While I work from home I can afford to give her the attention she needs, but without that ability I am not sure I could ever own a puppy. As Crede grows and matures I feel my marriage is following suit. My wife and I work as a team now better than ever before and much of that is owed to Crede – who pushes us and challenges us everyday to be better and to be stronger. She still makes mistakes as all children do, but the reward of having her around can be felt far and wide.
Roughly two weeks after we adopted Crede, we suffered a death within the family. My wife needed to travel back to Colombia and I was left home with a puppy, a full time job and a full time school schedule. To say I felt overwhelmed would be selling myself short. I was not sure how I would manage but the challenge pushed me to work harder and to be better. Being responsible for another life, although not a human child, is something that really pushes you to adapt and to grow as an individual.
Looking back on the process of adopting a dog, the frustration was worth the wait and we truly believe that the best was saved for last. Pup’s Place Animal Rescue is a fantastic place to adopt a dog, and Crede is a true reflection of the care and hospitality shown to us by Samantha who started the rescue at 18 years of age. The addition of Crede has helped continue a fantastic year that followed a year riddled with uncertainty and unfairness for us, in addition to millions of others. As we move forward I truly believe this will be a day we look back on as a turning point in our marriage and in our relationship of becoming a team united by a common force to better each other and our future together.