People describe falling in love in different ways, but most people agree on one particular aphorism:
when you know, you know.
In October 2014, an untrained, malnourished little pit bull came into our lives. Rebecca rescued her from some neighbors who had chained her to a post day and night and were feeding her table scraps. Thus began a more than one-year journey to find her a good home. The right home. In the beginning, Joy was aggressive and raw. She scared us sometimes. She growled and snapped around food and toys, and around me for seemingly no reason. She jumped up on guests, tried to eat our two cats, picked fights with our elderly dog Brick, and chased anyone on a bicycle.
We decided to work with the Charleston Animal Society in their Animal Ambassador program. There were several false starts and even a failed overnight visit along the way. Then came a three month adoption followed by a surrender back to us. That was seven months ago.
During Joy's seven month stay with us, we fell in love. She was still difficult, but we found her to be trainable and eager to please (two common traits in pit bulls). She learned to sit, come, stay, lie down, and get off of furniture. She snuggled up on the couch when we watched movies, resting her heavy pit bull head in our laps. While Rebecca and I read in bed as the nights wound down, she snored away alongside. When you know, you know.
But another thing we knew was that the longer we kept Joy, the harder it would be when the day came to give her to her new owner. Sure enough, as I sit here on the couch after dropping off this lovable, mischievous, gorgeous little pit bull named Joy with her new mom in Florida, my tears are beginning to soak the collar of my shirt. I am crying because I am thinking about her smiling dog face looking out the window of her new car as we drove away from her. I am thinking about her how much her grey dog butt would wiggle when she was happy to see us. I am thinking about the grateful look in her eyes during those first couple of days that we fed and sheltered her. I am thinking about how much she loved to play certain games with me, and how much she loved to play different games with Rebecca.
It is because we knew we would be feeling these feelings that we decided to drive to Florida a day early and take Joy and Brick for a camping trip. Etoniah Creek State Forest was close to where we would be meeting Joy's new mom, and was the perfect place to have one last hurrah of fun in nature with our little monster.
I miss her so much more than I thought I would, even though I truly know she is exactly where she needs to be and will be so, so loved.
Love is funny, isn't it?