Julie woke up in her messy apartment to the blinding sunlight shining through her living room window. She had fallen asleep on her couch, again. She rolled her legs off the cushions and let her feet hit the floor. Her joints groaned in agony from being on the couch for ten hours.
Her cell phone rang for the umpteenth time with several texts from her overbearing mother checking in on her. Julie texted her mom that everything was fine and she was getting ready to head into work.
Her apartment hasn’t been the same since Mike took off. Julie had found out he was cheating on her with a co-worker and instead of admitting, he grabbed some of his belongings and bounced. Julie came home from work seeing her apartment in a mess and a note saying:
I can’t. Bye. – M
It took her a week to be able to go back to work. Luckily, she had paid time off and an understanding boss. This day marked a month since he left. Julie actually felt better returning to work and being around friends, but whenever she came home it was like returning to a crime scene. She knew that she needed to clean and get rid of things that reminded her of Mike. She knew that making her apartment her own would make her feel better, but she hasn’t felt the motivation to start. Every time she tried, she would feel overwhelmed and start to cry. She felt pathetic, grieving over a boyfriend.
Julie worked for an online magazine. She was one of the senior contributors. When she walked into the office there was a small crowd of people looking into a conference room. Julie wasn’t sure what was going on, so she joined.
“Hey, why are we all standing here?” Julie asked as she approached the group.
“It’s Adopt-a-thon Day! Look! They have dogs and cats!” Sheila exclaimed as she moved so Julie could see. “I told John I might bring home one of these babies, but he forbade me.”
Casey, one of Julie’s closest friends at work, joined the group. “Julie, you should totally take one home.”
“Ha, yeah, Mike was allergic so I could never think about it.” Julie watched as a pit bull mix rolled on his back looking for belly rubs from one the handlers. “Who is covering this?”
“You are!” Sheila smiled, “We all wanted to – well Morty didn’t want to – so Lance pulled a name out of a hat and it was yours!”
“We were just waiting for you to come in.” Casey smiled, too. Casey knew this would be good for Julie. She has watched her mental state decline after Mike left. Casey felt terrible that she couldn’t pull Julie out of the funk, but was always there for every crying shoulder event.
Julie stepped into the conference room and greeted the handlers and volunteers from the rescue. The photographer, Lauren, had already set up the area for pictures.
“Thanks for coming in, I’m Julie, I’ll be writing this piece.”
“We love doing this with you guys! Can you believe that we get more adoptions – not just with the ones we highlight, but others as well.” April, the head of the rescue, hugged Dobby, the tabby cat as she spoke.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking of adopting a dog, myself.”
“We could start you up on an application when we’re done! We’ll do a house check and get you a pup!”
“House check?” Julie asked as she sat down in her chair to take notes.
“Yes, we have to make sure your home will be good for our dogs. We don’t want them to come back, if we can’t help it.”
Julie thought back to her messy apartment and winced. She was definitely not ready for a dog.
April saw her hesitation and laughed, “Don’t worry, we aren’t looking for cleanliness, just make sure they won’t escape or get into any chemicals.”
Julie sighed with relief. The pit bull mix she saw earlier asking for belly rubs came up to her and rested his head on her lap. Julie smiled and started petting his soft head.
“Baxter. He’s three years old, been with us for a year. We’ve put him with a foster because he couldn’t handle the stress at the kennel. Poor guy, he was given to us because his owner had a baby.”
Baxter looked up at Julie with his sad eyes. “Why hasn’t he been adopted? He seems really calm and sweet.”
“People are still weary of pit bulls.” April takes Baxter’s leash. “Let’s get him pictured first. Here’s his info card.”
Julie started typing up the info on her laptop. She watched as Baxter posed sweetly for the pictures. The rest of the animals were just as sweet and in need of loving homes. Being around them made Julie forget about her sad state at home.
After the shoot, April handed Julie the application. “You don’t have to decide on a specific dog, or cat, yet. We can keep your application on file and when you’re ready. We will be able to process the adoption quickly.” April smiled as Baxter ran up to Julie and placed his head on her lap, again.
“I think Baxter wants to adopt me.” Julie joked. She gave Baxter a kiss on the nose. “Can I fill this out now and give it to you?”
“Yes! We’re going to start loading up the animals, but I’ll wait for you.” April left Baxter with Julie as she directed her volunteers. Baxter laid down on Julie’s feet as she filled out the application. Already, she felt at ease. It was amazing how one dog could lift her mood. She secretly hoped he wouldn’t be adopted right away.
When Julie went home the feeling of dread didn’t wash over as it normally did. She took it as a sign to get started on cleaning the house. If she wanted to bring Baxter home, she wanted him to have a clean home. Julie knew she couldn’t do it on her own, so she called for backup, Casey. Casey came over with a bottle of wine and her cleaning supplies. Julie didn’t think she deserved a friend like Casey, but was happy to have her.
Casey and Julie threw out and reorganized everything in the apartment while holding on to a buzz from the wine. When they had finished, it was well into the night and they were done with the second bottle, Casey had to run out and buy a second one halfway through.
Together, they sat on the couch Julie woke up on that very morning.
“You will not sleep on this couch tonight… because I’m sleeping on this couch.” Casey hiccuped and they both laughed.
“Yes, ma’am.” Julie leaned her head against the arm rest. “Do you think I’m doing this right?”
“A dog can’t cheat on you.” Casey said directly.
“Yeah, but what if I get too busy at work, and I can’t take care of him.”
Casey gave Julie a look, “Girl, you know you could bring him to work.”
“I forgot about that…” Julie thought for a minute, “What if I’m really horrible at taking care of him?”
“Stop making excuses…” Casey yawns.
“There’s got to be a reason.”
“Huh?” Julie started to cry, “There’s got to be a reason why he left me…”
“Julie… he’s a dick. You know he’s a dick. You deserve happiness and if that dog is going to make you happy, then get the dog.” Casey yawned, again. “Now, stiffen up that upper lip and get yourself to bed. We’re going to the rescue center tomorrow before he’s adopted.”
Julie wiped away her tears and hugged Casey tight before dragging her drunk self into bed. At the rescue center, April was manning the welcome desk when Julie and Casey walked in.
“Julie! I’m so happy to see you. Have you decided to adopt?”
“Yes, I heard the article generated quite an interest.” Julie smiled, Casey linked arms with her.
“Julie is too nervous to ask, is Baxter still here?”
April’s eyes lit up and nodded her head. “I’ve actually asked his foster to bring him in today. Sounds like fate, huh? He’s in the play room. Come with me.”
Julie couldn’t help but feel anxious. This was going to be a lifetime commitment. Something, she had thought, would be trying to thwart it from happening, like with Mike.
Baxter immediately greeted Julie with kisses. It was like he remembered her. April and Casey both left Julie alone with him. Julie sat on the floor and Baxter immediately lay down beside her, resting his head on her lap. Julie’s eyes filled with tears, she felt an overwhelming sensation of joy. Baxter looked up at Julie and their eyes locked. His tail wagged faster. He quickly jumped up and began licking her tears off her cheeks. It was at this moment, Julie knew she couldn’t leave him there.
April was delighted to see Baxter finally getting his forever home. She scheduled the home inspection and promised Baxter will be Julie’s if she passed. Julie was worried that the inspection would be the thing to block her from getting Baxter, but when the inspection day came April was overjoyed about how well the apartment looked. Julie took a sigh of relief.
Baxter was finally hers, forever.
The first night was rough. Baxter cried all night and so did Julie. She knew he was missing his foster mom. She didn’t know how to make it easier for him. So, together, they slept on the couch.
By the end of the first week, her and Baxter finally got into rhythm. Baxter slept on Mike’s side of the bed, filling the final hole that was left behind. Julie was forced to go outside more, because Baxter loved walks. Instead of going on the couch after work, Julie would take Baxter to the park and let him run around with other dogs.
Casey would join them on the walks and was impressed with the overall mood change of Julie’s.
“A couple years ago, if you would have said that I’d see you out hiking on the weekends, I would have laughed.” Casey joked as they walked down a trail with Baxter happily walking ahead of them.
“Yeah, I know. I don’t know why I’ve never done this before. I kind of like this.”
“See, I told you this was a good idea.”
“Yes, you did. Thank you, for everything. I mean it. I’ve never been happier.” Julie smiled as she watched Baxter happily sniff around.
“Have you… heard from him at all?”
“Mike? No. The last contact was that note. He un-friended me and never returned any of my calls.”
Baxter started barking at something in front of him. Someone screamed.
“Baxter! Come!” Baxter growled some more before he followed Julie’s command.
Casey and Julie caught up to where Baxter was and to her surprise, it was Mike.
“Speak of the devil…” Casey said under her breath.
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Every animal deserves a loving home. Before you think about buying a pet… try looking into one of your local shelters and rescue centers! There are tons of dogs and cats (and even bunnies) looking for new homes and a loving family! Check out petfinder.com to browse through dogs available for adoption in your area.
You never know… you might just find your new best friend.