• Sarah Margaret Henry

Why Adopting a Dog Was the Best Decision I've Ever Made

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

On August 4th, 2019, officially known as International Friendship Day and Barack Obama's birthday, my fiance and I brought home our 46 pound bundle of joy.

While my fiance, a man who grew up in a quiet, immaculate household with no siblings and only one cat at a time, was at first uncertain about our general readiness to have a dog, Winston Bishop Churchill Henry-Witters bounded into our hearts and immediately made himself at home. He christened our apartment with his now famous "couch wiggles" and enjoyed snuggling up with his new mom and after a few days of heartwarming smiles, happy let's-go-on-a-walk leaps, and polite doggie manners, Dad was fully on board and we've never looked back.

When friends and family ask how things are going with the new dog, I say with unwavering certainty that he's one of the best five decisions I've ever made: adopting Pancake (my Holland Lop), adopting Andy (my Netherland Dwarf), adopting Ollie (my other Holland Lop), adopting Winston, and saying yes when Justin asked me to marry him all make the list.

I refuse to comment on whether or not that order is random.

Winston's life was not always a walk in the dog park. Before we adopted him, he went from Texas foster home to Pennsylvania foster home after being rescued from a hoarding situation; the owner of the house had upwards of 70 other dogs in the home.

We have no idea what kind of dog he is. Everyone who meets him has a guess: American Bulldog, Pit Bull, corgi, Basset Hound, terrier...the list goes on.

All we know is that he's 100% cute and will never be without a loving home again.

Throughout college, I struggled with finding a sense of home. I lived with roommates in dorms and eventually on-campus apartments, and starting sophomore year, I spent the summers living with my fiance's parents. Everything was temporary and nothing felt like it really belonged to me. And that's because it didn't.

Having Pancake as an emotional support animal (ESA) was helpful, but just having my own rabbit was not enough for the space to really seem like it was mine; the kitchen had my roommates' pots and pans, there was always someone in the bedroom, and there were rules about when my fiance could and could not be in my apartment (see Messiah College's policies on visitation rules here).

Once I finally graduated, I was lucky enough to move into an apartment with my fiance and our three bunnies. But something still seemed missing.

We waited on getting a dog because we were baby sitting my mother-in-law's cat and did want to disturb the dainty Princess Josie. She is precious and small and does not like dogs. Despite my adoration for Josie, I was extremely obnoxious and impatient during this time.

Then we met Winston. And Justin hesitantly said yes.

My life completely changed. Because I work from home and am extremely introverted by nature, there were days when I just wouldn't leave our apartment. Now I have a reason to leave the house during the day. I have a buddy to sit next to (or on) me when I am working. I have someone to hold when I am alone and have a panic attack.

When people say they want to "settle down and start a family," they're referring to having children, as though a nuclear unit with children is the only type of family. For medical and personal reasons, I never want to have children.

But my motley crew of three sassy rabbits, a goofy dog, and a patient, loving fiance feels more like a family than anything I could ever make biologically.

I'm finally home.

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