Here is Leslie's entry for the Petco contest for Reunion Rescue's chance to win $10,000 for the dogs!
Gauguin: The Art of the Dog
My dog Van Gogh had died at home and was buried under a
headstone that said “Companion, Friend, Teacher.” Then there was nothing left
but my grief. I knew I wanted another dog, but I was looking for a pit bull
because of how maligned they are and Van Gogh had been a pit bull terrier. I
emailed Cindy at Reunion Rescue about a couple of dogs on their site. Cindy
listened and said she had a dog that needed a friend. She said, “Festus” had
been found on a brutally cold day and taken in by someone who couldn't keep
him. Festus was a few months old still in “training.” He had been in two foster
homes and a failed adoption. Cindy said we should both go for a walk and I
should “check him out like a library book.” Reunion Rescue has a foster to
adopt program and a 100% lifetime guarantee so no pet ever goes back to a
I took gangly Festus for a walk and was told he was kind of a pain – super energetic and athletic. After the walk we played fetch and he and I fell into a nice rhythm. I did NOT feel ready, but sometimes the dog knows better and “our time” was just beginning. We have the best adoption day picture EVER. The kids in the neighborhood all came over that day to meet him and they took him on a walk. Everybody loved him.
Throughout many other fosters, other cats, a turtle and many moves, Gauguin (renamed from a close friend to Van Gogh) has weathered the storms. Gauguin outlasted my marriage and several moves – including a cross-country move from Texas to Minnesota with Gauguin in the passenger seat.
Wherever we walk he chooses human and animal friends to visit and people are so proud to be “chosen.” I get lots of strange looks and chuckles as I call him “Sir” when addressing him. It reminds me that he deserves the respect of being a separate and whole entity with his own life beyond our friendship.