FROM CAT PERSON TO DOG MOM
I was always a ‘cat’ person and did not understand how powerful the unconditional love of a dog can be until I moved to a small town in Mexico with my family. It was 2001. Down there dogs roam the streets, unloved and uncared for and if you have any kind of heart at all this rampant neglect will break it. But I didn’t want to adopt a dog, I had two small kids and owned an art gallery, and even though I had huge compassion for them I just didn’t think I could handle the responsibility.
The way we ended up with up with Ellie was clearly the Universe overruling my no dog policy.
It has to do with three visits in one month to the town’s hospital, which was located on the outskirts in an old building on an almost derelict piece of land, surrounded by a wall. There was a guard in a small tower at the entrance, and a cobblestone parking lot.
My son was about 6 or 7 at the time. A very active and adventurous boy - who during the month of January that year had three separate tiny boy disasters that needed medical attention, including stitches on his upper lip.
Each time we arrived at the old hospital, we noticed a beautiful doe-eyed yellow lab mix with a black widow’s peak, hanging out around the parking lot, inside the wall. She noticed us, too, because on each visit she did the same thing: approached us entreatingly with her front legs outstretched on the ground, and her tail in the air. She seemed to be actually beseeching us to take her home.
The interesting thing is, I have always been a huge animal advocate. As a kid, I did in fact bring home stray dogs and cats, hung out in barns and communed with the horses and other creatures. But here I was, the one saying no, repeatedly, to this endearing and charming homeless animal. However, on the third and final visit to the hospital that month, something happened - she was in the parking lot as usual - and I must have looked straight into her eyes, felt her soul.
We put her in the car and brought her home. She lived with us for the following fourteen years and was my best friend throughout.
That day in the parking lot of the old Mexican hospital was a turning point in my life. I had no idea that a dog was way more than a ‘pet.’ Ellie taught me the truest meaning of unconditional love. And gratitude. And loyalty. Her heart was so pure, so free of judgement. She affirmed to me that the value of life is rooted in love, and that this energy extends beyond just human relationships.