The Rescue

A German shepherd puppy named Tsunami attends a news conference at the American Kennel Club in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 30,
A German shepherd puppy named Tsunami attends a news conference at the American Kennel Club in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. The club announced their list of the most popular dog breeds in 2012 and the German shepherd comes in second only to the Labrador retriever in popularity. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

When we adopt an animal, people pat us on the back and congratulate us for saving a life. How noble! How selfless! How silly. Anyone who has adopted an animal knows that choosing the animal is seldom a part of the process. Usually, its the other way around. Animals have the unique ability to identify the holes in our hearts and assess their ability to plug them. They are not encumbered by the cacophony of requirements and laundry list of undesirable qualities that plague their human counterparts. They care not if we snore, what side of the bed we sleep on, whether we roll our toilet paper over or under, or if we possess fashion genius. They look at us, and they actually see us, and they decide if we are a good match or not. That's how animals roll.

When I did a documentary about a local animal welfare league where I was working, I interviewed several adopters about their experiences, and was amazed to see how many of them had adopted animals that never came close to what they had gone into the shelter to find. One woman sat on her couch, stroking her enormous black and white cat, and told me all about how she had originally gone into the shelter to help a friend find a puppy. A nice young couple explained how they had taken their children into the shelter to find a kitten, and ended up walking out with a Rottweiler. These people were chosen, and made to believe it was all their idea. Animals are clever.

I took in a young pup who had been tossed from a moving vehicle, promising a dog-seeking friend that I would get him housebroken for her as she prepared to move into a new home. The dog had other plans, and "Good Dog Jack" was my loyal and faithful companion for 14 years. It was barely five months after his devastating passing that I found myself inexplicably looking at puppies available for adoption online, and one in particular kept staring back at me from my computer screen, with something about him so oddly familiar. I was so conflicted and confused as to how I could even consider another dog so soon. But something was pushing me, and I couldn't explain it.

At about the same time, I received an email from a friend living in England. She told me it may be hard for me to believe, but she was attending the Arthur Findlay College in England for spiritualism and psychic sciences, and "Good Dog Jack" was apparently keeping her company on her journey. Several clairvoyants at the college reported seeing a large black and tan shepherd dog accompanying her who called himself "Jack." I found it unremarkable to imagine that he is the same sort of rock star now that he was in life, and was thrilled by the account of his adventure. My friend asked him if he had a message for me, and he showed her a pickup truck bed full of shepherd puppies. Upon reading this, I suddenly knew exactly what (or who) had been pushing me.

Trevor is a 9-week-old character who not only chose me, but also rescued me, and apparently had a lot of help doing it. Now and then I catch him looking up at Jack's photo urn as if he's listening intently, and sometimes I could swear he is channeling my old friend when he sleeps on his back with all four feet in the air. I'm not sure much of anything in this life is chance, and somehow I find that comforting. I would like to believe that humans possess the ability to set aside our pesky criteria and simply see each other, but so far that's more faith than fact. Imagine how wonderful it would be to have the ability and willingness to not only see someone else's true self, but also allow ourselves the vulnerability to be seen.