Entertainment, Katie McDowell, Life & Leisure

Path to healing begins with love

Well, we did it, folks. We made it through 2019.

It is now, as crazy as it feels to even type it, officially 2020.

As for many people, this past year wasn’t an easy one for me.

Seeing my boy Pops struggle through his illness and saying goodbye to him in November has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Even though we knew it was inevitable, given the nature of his tumors, having to make the decision to end his suffering is something with which I may never fully come to terms, even though it was the right thing to do.

There will never be another Pops, and I know I will miss him always. He was the sweetest old soul I’ve ever met and such a brave, patient goofball. Truthfully, he was perfect.

But I believe strongly in rescue, adoption, and a real human responsibility to right the wrongs of abandonment and abuse.

I believe that all animals are inherently good, and worthy of quality care, a warm bed, full bowls and a loving home.

I believe in adopting seniors, special needs animals and bully breeds, as they so often go ignored in our overflowing shelters.

My heart is so heavy without my Pops, but that isn’t going to go away. And keeping a deserving dog away from a family just because I’m sad didn’t feel right.

We are tasked with being the change we want to see in the world. I want animals out of shelters, and with Pops’ passing, we had the space, the means and the time to give to another.

And my Jack Russell, Mr. Moo, was so lonely and depressed without his brother, we felt he needed a friend.

For me to sit at home and cry seemed cruel and irresponsible to the creatures I care about, and so it’s time to open our hearts to another.

A dear reader named Connie emailed me after Pops’ death, saying how sorry she was for my loss. She closed by wishing me well, adding, “I look forward to the next column you write, where you have saved another dog from a horrible life.”

Well, Connie, I guess this is that column.

Everyone, help me welcome Manny — aka Manfredi, aka Manuel, aka Manchego, aka Cheese — adopted from the same shelter as Pops.

Ol’ Cheese is a 7- to 9-year-old (the shelter estimated 9, but the vet says he might be a little younger) pit bull who has had a rough go — having survived, for starters, being stabbed, a bout with parvo, and two separate stints at the pound.

Adopting another dog so soon after Pops wasn’t an easy decision. To be honest, I agonized over it.

But I have every hope that we can help Manny heal, while he helps us do the same.

He is a very good boy who, like all of us, just wants to be accepted and loved for who he is.

I like to think my Pops approves from above — and I believe he’s already visited Cheese from beyond to point out all the best places to nap.

Mr. Moo, on the other hand, is still feeling Manfred out. And while they may not attain the buddy-cop-duo bond he and Popsicles shared, I know they’ll find their balance.

Couch snuggles have commenced, so the outlook is good.

Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healing New Year.

Katie McDowell is a lifestyles writer/copy editor/constant work in progress. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com.