This is the bittersweet story of how we became dog owners today. Meet Max, our new Shih Tzu.

A few months ago, Brigitte (that’s my daughter in case you’ve never read anything I have written before) and I decided we were ready for dog ownership. It took a little more time for the hubs to feel good about this, but once he did, we began looking for a pet.

I had some rules. No buying a dog. Adoption fees are fine. Had to be good with a senior citizen cat. Small, but not breakable. Energetic, but not hyperactive. After that, anything went. But I did have a preference: it had to be a dog who needed to be rehomed.

So what does that mean?

When my mother in law passed away, she left behind a toy poodle. We needed to move fast to find her a forever home at a time when all our hearts were breaking. We couldn’t keep her because our relationship was in such disarray. That made our hearts break more. But fast forward a five years and things are different. We can take care of a pooch. My thought was that somewhere in this city was someone putting their affairs in order and needed to find a home for their dog. That was my preference. In some small way, I wanted us to be able to keep a dog out of a shelter and put someone’s mind at ease.

Sure enough, I was put in touch with someone who needed to find a good home for their dog. Max’s mom had terminal cancer. For the last month, I’ve been corresponding with Max’s neighbor. A few days ago, we learned that Max’s mom was non-responsive in palliative care. The time had come for us to get ready to become Max’s new family.

It’s a terrible thing to become dog owners under these circumstances. I want to celebrate our new dog. But I’m aware that this celebration for us is heartbreak in another home. Do dogs grieve? Does Max know what has happened?

Today at 4am, Max’s owner passed away.

Today at noon, we picked up Max.

My heart is so sad for the end of a life. I’m hoping we can be the good dog owners he needs for the next stage of his life.

Good-bye, Max’s mom. We will take care of your doggie now.

Max, our new dog!
Max, our new dog!

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