This is Gemma. And she’s ours.
That’s right, we have a new dog. (What? Were you expecting a cat?) We are as surprised as you are. Probably more. We weren’t looking to get another dog—we’ve been blissfully happy with the Beast for eight-and-a-half years—but this girl basically fell into our laps.
She’s our first girl. She’s our first rescue. She’s probably a year-and-a-half old—still a puppy—and weighs in at 100 pounds. She loves Finn. Finn, on the other hand, is slowly warming up to her, and we’re doing everything to remind him he’s still Top Dog. Like any new big brother, he wants to know when she’s leaving. She’s home, Finn. She’s home.
But it almost didn’t happen.
About three weeks ago, someone reached out to me through Facebook: A couple was fostering a dog named Gemma—a Dogue de Bordeaux to be exact—and needed to find her a new home tout suite. “Could you do anything?” asked the friend, knowing we were French Mastiff people. At the same time, a second friend also alerted me to this ginger girl.
Almost without thinking, I emailed the foster mother and arranged a visit. Then I quickly came to my senses, “What am I doing?” I said. “We can’t get another BIG dog! We already have one who takes up all of our love, space, and money!”
It’s been over three-and-a-half years since the Finn Beast was diagnosed with heart disease. His grim prognosis at the time made us think every day would be our last together. That’s at least 1300 last days! And we’ve been grateful for every single one. We just weren’t sure we had any room in our lives for yet another large beast.
After meeting Gemma, a very sweet and lively girl, we said “No.” It was hard to say “no,” but we just didn’t know how we could swing it. The foster parents—no strangers to animal rescue—absolutely understood. But then we had a problem: We kept thinking about Gemma. Every day. “Do you think she found a home?” Hubs would ask. “I don’t know,” I’d say wistfully. “I’m sure they’ll find her a good one. They’re good people.”
They really are. Six months ago, Gemma was found tied up and abandoned. She was malnourished, underweight, and had a raging case of mange, which made her stink to high heaven. The local humane society took her in and asked the couple if they’d foster her, seeing as how they already had four well-loved dogs.
They did and nursed her back to health with daily baths and medicine and lots of walks and hugs. They were even ready to adopt her, but one of their dogs was having none of it and suddenly turned on Gemma. It broke their hearts to realize that Gemma would need a new home. And quickly.
It broke our hearts, too. Still, we said “no” again, when, the day after Thanksgiving, we ran into Gemma’s foster father on the other side of town (a sign?). We could, though, have a play date. And we all met up the following weekend for a walk. JUST A WALK.
But the walk evolved into something more. For as hard as it was to say “yes,” I knew—we knew—that we would eventually regret saying “no.” Maybe we thought we weren’t ready for a dog, but we felt, in time, it would be the right thing to do. And Hubs reminded me that A) I always wanted a rescue, B) I always wanted a girl, and C) I always wanted a French Mastiff girl rescue. (Hell-ohhh!!) As we told the foster parents, “If she lives with us, she’s just going to be spoiled rotten and completely loved for the rest of her days. Are you sure you want that?” An hour after we all finished our play date, Hubs and I were signing “adoption” papers at the humane society and scratching our heads, “What just happened??”
Like many new doggie mothers, I’m exhausted and running on fumes right now—otherwise this entire post might have been short (unlikely), funny (a loose term), and coherent (yeah, right!). As soon as we get home from work, we’re back out the door for another walk. Then comes the circus that is meal time—Finn eats first because he’s the pack leader; Gemma needs to learn to eat slower and that she’ll never want for a meal again; I shout a steady stream of “Good girl…Good boy…Gemma, sit…Good boy, Finn…No, Gemma, sit…Stay…I said, ‘stay.’…Good girl.” One more walk before bed. A thousand more “Good boy, Finn,” “Good girl, Gemma” praises. And then lights out. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up at six and do it all again.
So there you have it. That’s our news. We waited a few days before saying anything because we’ve been busy adjusting to our new routine. We’re also still a little stunned. And, in case you were wondering (you know you were wondering), yes, there sure is a lot more drool around here now.