In 2009, on a dark and stormy night (just because I could) my roommate in Alabama came in and said there was a big, black dog outside. She let him into the little stairwell area in front of our apartment so he would be out of the rain, but I figured we couldn't leave him there. He was friendly, but when you open a door and see a big, black dog you don't know looking at you, well, some people would not handle that well.
I brought him inside and dried him off. He didn't have a name tag, so he just sat with me while I figured out what to do. I called/texted/social media'd everyone in I knew in our neighborhood to see if anyone was missing a dog, or knew of him. He had a rabies tag, so I called the vet and left a message explaining that I had the dog, didn't know who he belonged to, but would keep him inside for the night in case anyone called looking for him. That vet was amazing, because he called back a few minutes later, pulled up the information on the dog and gave me the dog's name-Jack, his owner's number and address.
I called the owner, who was out with friends. He said he'd head home and that I could just leave Jack in the back yard.
Getting Jack back outside into the rain wasn't easy. Getting him into my car was harder. Getting him out of the car and into the rain when we got to his house was downright impossible. He wouldn't budge. So instead we sat in front of the house and waited for his owner. In a thunderstorm.
Apparently Jack is afraid of thunderstorms and has a tendency to escape when he gets scared.
But, I fell in love with that dog and decided that I wanted one of my own. A week or so later, I got an e-mail about a found golden puppy who needed a home. I called and said I'd take it, but never got a call back. I started poking around pet adoption sites in the area, but decided that it really wasn't practical for me to have a dog, so I shouldn't spend so much time looking for one. I really wanted a black lab since I'd had one as a kid and love them, but wasn't finding one that suited me. So I gave up the search.
Not too much later, my roommate was working on a project to save the Grover Hall house in town. Grover Hall was a Pulitzer winning journalist who had once worked at the Advertiser, the newspaper I worked for at the time in Alabama. The house was in danger of being torn down and Jill was trying to save it.
During that project, and other reporting, she met a local woman who works in historic preservation.
This woman found a black lab puppy at Old Alabama Town one day while this Grover Hall house project was happening and named him Grover. She told my roommate about the puppy and made up a flier about the dog. She kept him at her house, but told the local shelters she had him in case anyone came looking. No one did. My roommate came home one day and said, "I shouldn't do this, but here," and handed me the flier. Grover the puppy was the cutest little guy and I called the woman that night.
Within a few days, I had a puppy. He had a broken rib when I got him and was terrified of cars, trash cans and Halloween decorations, but we got the hang of things.
It makes sense that I would end up with a black lab named for a Pulitzer winning journalist (not the Seasame Street character and not the president, but a journalist). He was meant to be my dog.
He's the sweetest, best bud a girl could ask for, even though he's nuts. Here's a look into his puppy days in 'bama. I just watched it again and cracked up.
But from day one, Grover stole my heart and became the biggest commitment I'd made in life, until buying a house with a boy. I've never even lived in the same house (outside of kid years) for as long as I've had Grover.
In that time, Grover has taught me a lot of life lessons and been that other living thing that factored into all other decisions and plans. I mean, how can your life not revolve around that face?
+ They need a consistent schedule and help regulate yours. For pretty much his whole life, Grover has been up and ready for me to be up by 7 a.m. at the latest. If I'm not, bad things might happen.
+ They live to make you happy, but you gotta make them happy too. While living in D.C. I had long commutes and couldn't come home for lunch, making Grover's life much less pleasant. I took him running in the mornings in hopes that he'd be worn out for the day, but he'd occasionally act out by destroying the house or being a holy terror. Part of that was just puppy years, but part of it was he needed me home. As much as I loved D.C., life there didn't seem to work out quite right for me or for Grover.
+ Unconditional love. Grover and I get in fights, mostly when he doesn't do what he's supposed to do, or looks at me with his "I hear what you're saying, but I'm going to go do this instead" face. But every day, he just looks at you with those precious puppy eyes, snuggles up to you and doesn't demand anything, say anything, judge you for anything. Other than food and exercise, the only thing he really asks me for is love.
+ Stop and smell the roses. You cannot get through a run with Grover without stopping to sniff grass, rocks, trees, anything. Sometimes it drives me nuts, but he always looks so happy to just take in the outdoors it gives you some perspective on how good your life is and how important it is to appreciate the little things.
Do you have a dog? What life lessons have you learned from your dog?