But after much fawning over friends' dogs, I decided that the benefits of daily interaction with my own would outweigh the challenges. Clearly, I could not manage a puppy ... but an elderly adult?
I searched the online pounds and rescue organizations and discovered Bella, a nine-year-old Golden Retriever found in a park in Taiwan. Filthy and emaciated, she was nursed back to health over the course of a year. In July she was flown to the United States because she had a better chance of adoption here.
I fell in love with Bella before I met her. I identified with her fight for survival and the drastic changes in her life. The thought of helping her filled me with gladness and hope. Her healing power had taken hold already.
My husband and I made an appointment to meet her. She had ear infections, fleas, worms, a bleeding teat, a massive fat lump on her chest, and she didn't smell good. We brought her home anyway.
Four baths and as many vet appointments later, she's looking and smelling better. She lies by my side as I write this – a reminder of the extent to which we must sometimes go to give life another chance.