Perhaps the quiet in the house while the boys were at camp this summer was too much for me. Perhaps there was a dull ache in my heart because I’d had a fur baby at my side for 12 years and no longer had one. Lady was my companion. Yes, she shed like a banshee and her breath could kill you, but I loved my sweet girl, nonetheless.

Husband and I have always felt strongly about adopting rescue dogs (not that there is anything wrong with getting a pet another way – this is just our preferred method). We found Lady at the Atlanta Humane Society. She was one of a litter of 8 or so and, when her sisters and brothers ran up to us for attention, she sat quietly in the corner. She was the one. That was our dog. Over the years she had nicknames: Danger Dog, Crazy Running Puppy, Ladybug. All names from love. She kept us safe, she kept us company, she loved us, and we loved her.

Maybe it was the realization that my littlest would be in Kindergarten this year. The absence of my dog wasn’t as noticeable between the pre-school hours, shuttling kids to and fro, running errands and trying to squeeze it all in. So as the reality crept in that August would bring a quiet house for the majority of the day, I decided that I needed another fur baby. In fact, my heart demanded it.

A friend of mine volunteers a lot of her time with Atlanta Boxer Rescue and I decided that the organization was one I wanted to support. While we’ve never had a boxer, we spent a lot of time with them when we lived in town. Lady’s best dog buddies, Gus, Buster and Brutus, were boxers and we loved them dearly. They were big, sweet, lovable dogs with the perfect temperament to be part of a family with kids. I filled out the paperwork and was happy when we were approved to pick a dog. Our dog.

Much like Lady, I think Hondo* sat in a corner. He’s not your typical boxer. For one thing, he’s white with some brown spots. He’s a big dog, and looks serious and, all things considered, he’s very mellow. Being used to an old dog, mellow works for us. We had a date with him on Wednesday, slept on the decision (hey, no one wants to bring a dog home and realize they don’t have the right one) and he came home tonight.

It’s so nice to hear doggie footsteps behind me, or turn around and have a dog in the way. The wagging tail and the desire to have you scratch him in just the right spot by his ear. My heart has been singing! And not just for myself but for my boys. To see the pure joy on their faces as they pet their new dog and give him treats is priceless.

We still have some work to do. Hondo had heartworms. He’s had the full round of meds (thank you very much, ABR) and has been cleared, but we follow up in three months. We also have to put a few more pounds on him. He was about 20 pounds underweight when he came to ABR and we have 5 or 8 more to go but I’m confident we’ll get there.

And, of course, Hondo wound’t be here without the selfless work from the Atlanta Boxer Rescue. The volunteers that rescue dogs and shuttle them to the vet and keep them safe in their homes. Fosters that love an animal unconditionally even though they know that the fur baby they nurse back to health will leave with another family one day. I saw that love tonight as Hondo’s foster dad said goodbye to him. He held back the tears but they were there. My eyes welled up, too. From knowing his pain, from knowing my joy, and from knowing that this dog, a dog that had been sad and sick, was happy and healthy and finally coming home.

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*His foster dad is a HUGE John Wayne fan and named him after the movie, Hondo.

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