Finding Phoebe

Time, distance and seemingly insurmountable circumstances couldn't keep a rescued dog from her new forever home.



For Christmas break, I agreed to pet-sit a dog named Phoebe for a couple of weeks. She was an ordinary looking mutt, but had the most soulful, expressive eyes. Phoebe quickly fit her way into my family, including our couches, beds, laps and -- of course -- hearts!

Before long, my dad began giving her treats, my sisters took her on walks and my mom sewed her jackets. She was attentive, lively and so affectionate. Phoebe was the star of Christmas Eve, adorned in a reindeer costume, and was right there on Christmas morning opening presents with the rest of us, captured in every picture.

The delightful adventures of Phoebe's Christmas came to an abrupt end when her owner returned from a ski trip. The owner hinted that she would rehome Phoebe. She made some remarks about university students being unfit pet-owners, which were enough for me to keep my mouth shut. I kissed Phoebe's head and tearfully watched as my new friend was driven away.

I missed Phoebe thoguh the rest of winter. In the spring, I heard she still needed a new home, and felt sadness and even resentment toward her owner for never understanding how much I loved Phoebe. In the summer, my day job provided endless opportunities for daydreaming. My thoughts were generally of getting a dog in the fall when I was back in school -- one just like Phoebe. I knew of many dogs that needed homes, but none of them felt like a match, perhaps because none of them were my Phoebe.

One October evening, I emailed Phoebe's owner to gain closure on this dog once and for all. Her owner responded that Phoebe was now in a new home in the city with a man who wanted a Basenji. (The owner thought that the Basenji was Phoebe's predominant breed.)

Although a new home sounded great, I didn't feel any of the relief I anticipated. I still wanted to adopt a dog, and this time, I decided to try a pet adoption search engine for Basenjis.

The first dog that appeared on the webpage was a nervous female peering from behind bars at an animal control facility. From the tiny thumbnail, this sad-looking dog especially reminded me of Phoebe. For comparison, I pulled up some old Christmas photos, and to my amazement, the dog appears to have very similar markings. My heart began to race as I telephoned the facility, overwhelmed and shocked by the thought that this could be Phoebe. A few days later, I made the eight-hour trip to see if this dog was really my girl.

It was nighttime when I arrived at the animal control facility, a tiny, dimly lit building in the middle of the woods that even my GPS couldn't detect. Inside, there were dozens of caged cats, lining the walls from every direction. I was greeted by kind employees who apologized for the barking dogs and went in the back to get the dog I had come so far to see. They brought me a nervous, emaciated dog that clung to the employee. This dog looked scared, nothing like the strong Phoebe I had remembered. Then she glanced at me, and I knew those big, brown eyes were the same ones that had charmed her way into my heart almost a year ago.

That night I signed her adoption papers. A miracle had brought us back together; for that I am forever grateful. Phoebe's head resting on my lap is all the thanks I need.


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