It Was a Slow Train To Dallas, But So Worth the Trip

I’d like to introduce you to Dallas.

He’s the puppy that joined our family in December 2012. He’s full of joy and playfulness and unconditional love. I can’t imagine our household with him. I’m sharing his picture with you because:

1. He’s adorable. See how he’s waving at you?
2. He’s a great example of how nonprofits work to improve our communities.

When my husband, son and I decided to add a dog to our family, I’ll admit that I became a bit overwhelmed with questions. Could we find the right puppy? If so, HOW? What breed would be a good fit for our family? Would he be difficult to train? Would he love us? And perhaps most important of all, would he get along with our cat, Chloe, our household diva?

Those of you who know me understand that it wasn’t enough for me just to have questions. I had to have answers too. So I did the thing that I do best. I Googled.

Early on in my search, I found a wonderful resource called is a directory of homeless pets and pet adoption organizations from across the country, designed to connect animals in need to families that are ready to love them. (Their affiliated nonprofit foundation, the PetFinder Foundation, provides grants to shelters and other pet welfare entities throughout the U.S.)  So from there, I found puppies and seniors, pit bulls and labs, short-haired and long-haired breeds, and healthy and recovering dogs. I discovered quickly that the number of animals out there in the shelter system was enormous and it became very clear that this was our path. We wanted to find the dog who had been given up or abandoned, but was waiting patiently for us to bring him home.  And when I saw a picture of this little reddish-tan and white puppy with huge eyes on the Petfinder website, I felt for sure that he was the one.

So first, let me tell you a little more about Dallas. He’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Jack Russell mix who has crazy love for humans and a mischievous passion for socks. He was born in North Carolina and taken away from his mother prematurely, at only 5 weeks, before being brought to Virginia and left with the fine folks at Richmond Animal Care & Control. (While RACC is technically a government entity, it is additionally supported by a nonprofit, Friends of Richmond Animal Care and Control, that works to increase resources for the City’s animal placement efforts.) Given his very young age, he was placed with a foster mom, a lovely woman named Kathy who is an employee of RACC, to ensure that he’d remain healthy until his little system became stronger. Kathy is a dog trainer and fills her home with canine love, in the form of four other very large dogs. Dallas was blessed to find her and so were we. Dallas thrived as he learned how to socialize with dogs and humans, as well as all the other things that puppies need to know: crate training, potty training, and even a trick or two.

Working together, all of these organizations played a part in our journey to Dallas. They helped us screen potential puppies, listened to our needs, reviewed our family’s lifestyle, and addressed our questions.

You might be wondering what this cute little fella has to do with research and evaluation. Quite a lot, actually. There were two important decisions to be made in this situation: one by my family and the second by the pet adoption agency. We both did our homework, asked questions, gathered information and reached the same conclusion: Dallas belonged with the Willards of Mechanicsville, VA. We were all delighted to find that Dallas validated our assessments with a big lick to the son’s nose within five seconds of meeting him.  (Dallas is still developing his research skills, but he’s got a great intuitive mindset!)

My other point is this: helping people and other beings in our communities…it requires hard work, dedication, and working together. Nonprofits may often lack financial resources, but they are overflowing with the passion and heart that can make good things happen.

Our puppy’s adoption story had many more twists and turns – there are too many details to share here – but please drop me a line if you have questions about our experience or want to check in on Dallas, who will be turning one-year old in September. Chances are good that he’ll visit the blog from time to time, as he teaches me lessons every day.