The best gift I ever received didn’t come on a birthday or at Christmas. It came right around Thanksgiving, not a holiday often associated with gift giving or receiving, but that felt and still feels appropriate nonetheless.
I lived in a community that each fall put on a downtown art-walk event. Galleries there partnered with and promoted specific artists, whose work they showcased along with their regular offerings. Other downtown businesses could get in on the act as well, sponsoring an artist or multiple artists and converting their storefronts into quasi-galleries for an evening.
You might have a gallery featuring a watercolorist next to a restaurant featuring a sculptor — and down the street, a bookstore bedecked with driftwood carvings next to a hotel with a photographer’s work hanging in the lobby.
And of course in the midst of all this was the collection of booths and vendor displays one expects to be part of such a festival. I belonged to a civic club that each year set up a booth and sold bowls of homemade chili, raising money to help out with various charitable projects around town. And like everyone else in the club, I signed up to help man the booth for a block of time during the festival. All this was taking place a couple of days prior to Thanksgiving.
What I’ve written so far has nothing to do with the best gift I ever received — I’m just setting the scene. What is relevant is that right next to the civic club’s booth, the local Humane Society had set up a display with a number of pets, mostly dogs, available for adoption. This pet adoption event was the most popular spot on that street, and the additional foot traffic helped the civic club sell a lot of chili. By the time I got there, club members had begun parading dogs around in front of our booth in an effort to help get them adopted, and a few members were holding dogs.
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One unusual-looking little dog caught my attention. According to the Humane Society, he was a dachshund-Labrador mix, which was likely just Texas code for: “Who knows?” He had an unusual name as well — Knobby. I really liked Knobby and throughout my shift watched to see if he got adopted. He didn’t, but I knew the event would last well into the evening, and I was rooting for him.
Later, recounting my day for Jennifer, I found myself mostly talking about this dog and suggesting I should check to make sure he’d found a home … maybe floating a trial balloon to suggest he’d be a fit in ours if he hadn’t. But we already had pets, worked a lot of hours, and didn’t have much space. We didn’t arrive at a decision … though I made a mental note to swing by the shelter the next day and check.
But that was the day before a holiday, and I became overwhelmed trying to get work at the newspaper squared away, not leaving the office until well after dark, well after the shelter had closed.
On the drive home I wondered about that dog … and then when I got home, there he was, sitting next to our rat terrier and looking right at home. Jennifer had adopted him for me, and that’s the best gift I ever got. Knobby’s been sitting next to that rat terrier and looking right at home ever since.
The decision to adopt any pet should, of course, be taken seriously. It’s worth recognizing that adopting a pet is one of those acts of kindness that requires a commitment, a willingness to roll with changes here and there. It shouldn’t be a snap decision. But if you believe that willingness exists, then extend a second chance to a shelter pet. You won’t be sorry. We run photos of adoptable pets in the paper, and there are avenues online for checking on pet availability. You could always make a trip to the shelter.
In my case, I let a cramped schedule, and maybe a little hesitancy based on my circumstances, delay me. I had trouble taking the plunge. But luckily, someone who knows me better than I know myself made the right call.
John Dilmore is editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are those of the author.