A photo from the day we took her home - December 18, 2016.
It took me years - no exaggeration - to warm Ben up to the idea of getting a dog. In the past year his resistance began to melt as we started to talk about our future... leaving Manhattan, building a house, starting a family... someday. My dad is a dog person - that's who I get it from - and he loved the idea of us getting a dog that he could spend some time with, too, since his lifestyle wouldn't really allow for him to be a full-time pet parent. He suggested I look into the Havanese breed since we have a few of those in our extended family and they're great dogs. A few months ago, I found a great-looking breeder online and emailed them for more info.
Fast forward a few weeks... I broke my ankle, was chained to our couch for a few weeks, and we had to cancel our Florida vacation because I refused to hobble down there in a boot. Those first few weeks post-break were miserable. I kept saying to Ben, "NOW can we get a dog?! I need something to look forward to!" The more I brought up the possibility of getting a dog with Ben, the more we started to come around to the idea of adopting a dog in need of a home rather than purchasing a dog from a breeder. I'd spend hours reading about different breeds online, and I came across an ad for a "Holiday Super Adopt". It's an event put on by the Best Friends Animal Society where they bring together lots of different animal rescues in one place so that hundreds of animals (mostly dogs) can find forever homes around the holidays. I told Ben about it and he said we could go. It was a three day event (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and we agreed to go Friday evening around the time when we opened. On the inside I was hopeful we'd find "The One" but on the outside I played it totally cool and let Ben take the lead; I knew I could fall in love with almost any dog but it was going to take more for Ben to want to take one of these guys home with us.
We walked up and down every aisle of dog crates, stopping to pet a few and read the info written on the cards about the breeds, ages, and origins of each. After we'd seen everything, I said, "Is there any dog you liked and want to go see again?" He said, "Yea, I like that little black and white one named Winter." So back we went, and asked the volunteer if we could hang out with Winter. I held her in my arms and Ben looked me right in the eye and said, "We could do this. I think we could do this, But we need to think about it. And we really need to clean and fix up the apartment." I nodded and turned to the volunteer to hand Winter back. She clawed at my jacket trying to hold on as we gave her back. Before we left, I filled out an adoption application.
We walked to dinner and daydreamed out loud a little bit about what it would be like if we took her home. Suddenly a thought came to me. "We could call her Winnie! Like The Wonder Years!" Ben liked the idea.
The next day, I knew she was on both of our minds. I had to hold myself back from asking, "Are you still thinking about Winter?!" every 5 minutes. I called emailed the animal rescue and asked if Winter was still there, and if my application had approved. She was so soft and cute that I worried someone else would scoop her up, but I kept telling myself that if it was meant to be... it would be. I got an email back shortly that my application had been approved and that Winter was still there. Ben and I agreed that if we woke up thinking about her on Sunday morning, we'd head back to the event to make her ours. Sunday morning came and I emailed Social Tees to see if she was still there. The event started at 11 and I wanted to be there as soon as it opened. I made breakfast and told Ben to get dressed. He dragged his feet; he was afraid we'd get there, she'd be gone and we'd be heartbroken. He kept telling me to call Social Tees to ensure she was still available and I kept telling him that the process isn't perfect and you have to be prepared for the possibility of, well, anything. (Also it was Sunday and their office is closed so there was no one there to answer the phone. Also Ben is very stubborn.) I finally got him out of the apartment. I checked my email as he hailed a cab and saw that Social Tees had written back, "Winter's still here. Are you coming?" I squealed, told Ben and replied, "We're on our way."
We got there, paid the adoption fee, and carried Winter, now our Winnie, to the nearest bench so we could wrap her up in a blanket before heading outside. Ben and I looked at one another with the same gleam in our eye we had right after we walked up the aisle on our wedding day and sat in a holding room by ourselves in our shiny new wedding bands. A mix of sheer excitement and being scared shitless.