This post is sponsored by Universal Pictures’ upcoming film release, A Dog’s Purpose
Six years ago today we adopted Oliver and I never knew that our search for a dog that was just right for our family could result in so much love.
I never grew up with dogs like my husband did. His house was always the home for two adopted Labradors whose backgrounds gave them distinct personalities. There was Max, the black Lab, who despite being owned by a homeless man in San Francisco, loved to sit upright in a chair during Sunday dinner parties. Roxy was the lightest Yellow Lab I’ve ever seen whose fur was practically white and went into convulsions when there were thunderstorms or 4th of July fireworks. And there was Bailey. Bailey was a chocolate Lab who loved to swim. He would fly fully outstretched over the pool in my husband’s childhood home to fetch a ball thrown in the deep end and took one last swim before he passed away as Thomas softly stroked his brown fur, telling him how much he loved him and what a good dog he had been.
Six years ago when we were ready to adopt a dog, we had no idea how difficult it would be to find the dog that was just right for us. We went to dog adoption days, put in applications with local Lab Rescue groups, and scoured PetFinder for months. We met dogs who sounded perfect on paper but we couldn’t adopt because the adoption agencies thought our kids were too young (they were 4 and 6 at the time and had plenty of experience with their grandparents’ dogs) or because the dog’s personalities didn’t mesh well with ours. At one adoption day we met a Lab who liked me and the kids but backed away when my husband approached because it feared men.
Worried that we’d never find our dog, we expanded our search radius well outside the Washington, D.C. area. We were ready to drive north or south, as far as Philadelphia and Richmond to meet dogs. We were set to travel to Richmond one weekend to meet a dog when a Yellow Lab popped up on PetFinder. We clicked and learned that this dog would be at a Northern Virginia adoption day at a local pet store, just 30 minutes from our house.
Hopeful yet realistic, we filled out the online application, printed it, and brought it with us like we had done for all the other adoption events. The kids brought their album filled with 4×6” photos of them with my in-laws’ dogs and sheep from their farm to show how well they did around large dogs and animals, despite their young age. We went early to be there to meet Oliver first, hoping that we would get there before other interested families. If it didn’t work out, we had decided we’d head to Richmond right after.
We arrived at the tiny pet store and looked for Oliver among the many gorgeous dogs but didn’t see him. We thought that maybe we were too late and he had already found his forever home. As it turned out, Oliver was out back walking the parking lot and when we met him, his ears went back into what we like to call the happy position and his tail wagged fast enough that if connected to a generator, could have powered a small village. To say this dog was happy to meet us was an understatement and he seemed perfect.
After getting to know Oliver and him being acquainted with us, we met with the adoption coordinator. She told us about Oliver being a runaway she found running along on a busy stretch of a road on Christmas Eve. She shared that she had spent weeks trying to look for his family and when she finally knew who he belonged to, she returned him to them, they had him a day, and called her to pick him up.
The adoption coordinator wanted to know about us, our family, why we were ready to adopt a dog, and for the first time, she listened patiently to the kids talk about their grandparents’ dogs and sheep. She was the only one to hold out her hand to take their photo album and flip through their pictures, getting down on their level to ask them about certain ones. After an hour of leaning up against bags of dog food bags in one of the aisles of the pet store, she said it sounded like a perfect match and asked if she could bring him by the next day.
It’s hard to believe that Oliver bounded into our home, his skinny self sniffing his new surroundings six years ago today. Although our search for a dog took awhile, we believe that he was the dog who was meant to be ours right along. Every dog happens for a reason. We consider ourselves fortunate that another family gave him us so he could be ours.
Oliver’s purpose is to bring us joy and love us as much as we love him. He’s a fierce protector of our family, warding off strangers, predatory birds who try to enter his domain and hurt our chickens, and squirrels. He loves our walks to and from school for the attention he gets from the other kids who always ask to pet him and can be seen walking next to him, small hands on the top of his back. He’s my kitchen helper (he’s never met a bowl he didn’t like to lick), running companion, and constant fixture in my office, often lying under my desk or behind my chair while I work. He’s as happy to have found us as we are to have found him.
We love Oliver and he loves us. As the vet continually reminded me at his last visit, he’ll be ten next year. Not being a dog owner before, I’m not sure why ten is such a milestone year for dogs but the way she kept talking about his age made me sad that being his forever family will one day come to an end. As heartbreaking as it is to think that he won’t always be with us, we’re going to enjoy every minute we have with him.
I like to think that after Oliver leaves us, he will find another family who needs him as much as he needs them, just like the dog in A Dog’s Purpose. In theaters January 27th, A Dog’s Purpose shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron,the family film is told from the dog’s perspective and also stars Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton, Britt Robertson, K.J. Apa, Juilet Rylance, Luke Kirby, John Ortiz and Pooch Hall.
Dog owners will also love recreating the #ADogsPurpose movie poster using your dog. Share your poster with #MyDogsPurpose and your furry friend could even be featured in the film’s campaign! Get started now: http://unvrs.al/ADPPoster
This post is sponsored by A Dog’s Purpose but all opinions and experiences with Oliver are my own.