Five years ago to the day, my life forever changed. It was the day we adopted our rescue Labrador Retriever mix Leah. I so desperately wanted to be a mom but knew my husband wasn't ready so instead of a baby, he gave me the go-ahead to adopt a dog. I searched for days for the perfect dog and knew what I wanted: a young female puppy that had to be some sort of retriever mix. Oh boy did I get more.
When she first came to us, she smothered me with kisses and then went right into the kitchen, which is where she's never left. Training her had it's difficulties, granted she WAS a puppy after all, but we got through those tough days together. Not only did Leah become my companion, she helped me overcome my depression with her constant love, she got me into better shape with our daily walks, she kept me motivated to continue moving forward when I wanted to give up while attend grad school with that look in her eyes, and most of all, she brought the fun back into my life with our games of "ball" and dancing to christmas music. She filled many lonely days with love, laughter, and sometimes irritability because she loved chewing on my clothes. Aside from my husband, I had another "best friend" within my life.
But things got even better. Fast-forward to after Autumn's arrival and the years that have since followed. We were so nervous as to how Leah would be when Autumn was born. We even took a dog class to help introduce the pup to her sister and felt ashamed for ever doubting her. As we all know, Belle was diagnosed with Autism after she turned two and despite some of the hurdles she's had to go through, Leah has always been by her side and has loved her from day one. There's no doubt about it. The two of them have been inseparable, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, Leah's ALWAYS been right by Belle'side. Even though it's taken Autumn some time to "warm" up to her, she too loves her "sissy" more than anything. I can see it within her eyes, in both of their eyes, when we play outside or in her room, it's like magic.
As we celebrate five years of becoming a family, I can't help but think how precious time and life can be and how lucky we are to have this beautiful creature, who has captured our hearts, but most importantly hers, within our lives. I'm also reminded that there will come a time when we will have to say goodbye to our "first born", her "sissy" and "our keeper" and how on earth will we be able to get through that? How will Belle cope with this and how unfair it seems to be that our pets are not meant to outlive their owners. It just seems so cruel and breaks my heart at the mere thought of loosing Leah someday.
I know I can't focus on the latter, but I will say that having adopted Leah, she's taught me how to become a mother. She taught me how to love unconditionally and to try to see the good in everyone. She's taught me to give second chances to those who deserve them, to follow my instincts, and to also kick the grass behind me when when life seems to be full of crap. The best though, is she's allowed me to see what it's like to be forever patient, kind, enduring, selfless and always there supporting those who need love without muttering any words. That silence can be golden and a hug or a dog'a kiss goes a long way.
I know within my heart that there will never be another dog quite like Leah. She's been one of the best things that's happened to our family and for Autumn without a doubt. She's the perfect "therapy dog" (if you want to call her that) for myself, my husband and for Belle. Who can ask for anything better? How lucky we are to receive such love within our lives? How amazing is it that an animal, this four-legged enigma, can bring such happiness that I never thought existed?! Words cannot express my gratitude for you my "sweet Lee". Just like our song: "When somebody loved me, everything was beautiful, Every hour we spent together, lives within my heart
And when she was sad, I was there to dry her tears, And when she was happy, so was I, when she loved me." (Except I still love you and never will stop loving you.)