In the first few years of my life, the only pets I had were fish. I was afraid of animals. I wasn't that kid at the petting zoo that was filled with wonder and excitement. Instead, I was the kid who would shrink back in terror when a dog came near. Nothing bad ever happened to make me feel this way, I just saw danger in almost every furry thing. Yet, oddly enough I liked pigs. I was determined to have a pet pig and begged my parents for one. I believe it was the story Charlotte's Web that gave me a fascination of pigs. Naturally, I was not allowed to own a pet pig, but my parents felt it was time to add a dog to our family. We visited several animal shelters and one family member or another wanted this dog or that, but there was never a unanimous vote or the perfect fit, so we continued our search.
One day, as a family, we visited the Inland Valley Humane Society & S.P.C.A. in Pomona. I was five years old. We went through the small dog ward and we peered into each cage. There were many wagging tails and soulful eyes, but none of them seemed to be the right one. My sister went ahead of my parents and I, and stopped in front of a kennel with a pile of sleeping black terrier mix puppies inside. Once the puppies noticed her, they hurried to the front of the kennel to see her. As they stepped off of each other one by one, my sister quickly noticed something and called us to come see. We hurried over, looked in. and saw a dirty, scared, sad, black and white dog. She was at the bottom of the pile being squished by a pile of puppies larger than her. She calmly awoke and glanced over at us. Then, slowly walked over to come see us. All the black puppies were exuberantly trying to get our attention and kept shoving the little dirty black and white dog away from the door. She had the most loyal brown eyes and we all knew she was the one. We were told by the kennel staff that she was found in the wheel well of a car. They also told us she was a 6 months old Lhasa Apso/ terrier mix. They informed us that she was not available for adoption yet, but we could come back at 8:00 the following morning. My Mom took us the morning of her availability and we were told that another family wanted her too. She had many people interested in her, but they had to work and couldn't stay. We had to put in tickets and they were going to draw a name to see who would get her. My Mom told my sister and I, "just say a prayer, and if she's meant for us we'll get her". We did just that, and a few moments later, they called our name. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I always thought dogs were scary, but looking into her beautiful brown eyes I didn't feel fear. I felt like she was someone special and any fear I had went away.
We brought her home and my Mom and Grandma quickly got to the task of bathing her. She was very dirty and they didn't want my sister or I to touch her until she was clean. Once bathed, she was brought inside the house to meet my sister and I. After exuberantly greeting us, she laid down next to me with her back against my leg as I sat on the floor. I stroked her until she fell asleep. I felt so much love flow out of this little dog, and I couldn't believe how much love a little furry being could have. My heart was instantly bonded to her. We named her Rosie and we became the best of friends. I was home schooled, and when I'd practice my reading and spelling lessons I'd read it to her, and teach her what I was learning. She'd lay facing me, and acted interested in everything I tried to teach her. My sister and I would make a certificate for her every year we'd get promoted to the next grade so that she too graduated with us. She was truly the first "Home Schooled Hound." She was so special to us that my sister and I even sewed a quilt for her with the help of a family friend and it won a blue ribbon at the county fair. It's like Rosie knew that quilt was special and she treated it with such care. She was eager to please and learned things so fast. She had a special love for my sister and I, even if my parents were the ones who fed her. We always said she saw my sister and I as her "puppies." She protected us, licked our tears, and always stood by us. She was such a loyal companion. When she first came to us she was terrified of men and sticks. My Dad couldn't get near her when we first adopted her, but eventually she trusted him and enjoyed his company as much as ours. People who didn't even like dogs said they wanted a dog just like Rosie. She had a special intuition and even saved me from drowning by frantically alerting my Dad. As I got older I enjoyed training her. That light in her eyes that occurred when she "got" what I was teaching her was inspiring to me and I loved it.
She was with us for 14 years before her heart failed and she passed away at home. During the last 2 years of her life she suffered various health problems including a brain tumor and seizures, but always took the time to put a smile on my face despite what she was going through. Rosie lived to bring our family joy - it truly seemed like that brought her happiness. She would do things on purpose that she knew made me laugh or smile but always made sure I was watching first. It's been 7 years and I still miss her terribly, but she touched my heart so deeply and her memory is always with me. She showed me how wonderful animals are and how much love they have. After adding her to our family a whole new world opened up to me. Animals became my passion and I started volunteering with various animal organizations a few years after that. Rosie helped me start this amazing journey toward working with animals and although she is no longer by my side to take this journey with me, she is in my heart and her memory inspires me.