Happiness came in a 40lb package.

I’m unsure how I’ve failed to write a single thing about my best friend in the world, Theodore Roosevelt.

I first saw Teddy on Petfinder.com in March 2010.  At the time, Josh and I were looking for a place to live with friends of ours.  The timing was perfect and we found an ideal space that was happy to allow a small dog.  (In all honesty, I would have changed my circumstances to accommodate the dog – he was the most perfect and adorable creature I had ever laid eyes on and that remains true today.  I had no choice but to adopt him!)

Seriously, who could say no to this face?

Teddy was listed for adoption by an animal rescue group based in the south.  He was in a foster home in Alabama after being saved from a small town called Center Point.  Teddy had been stray, living with his mate and their three puppies.  After several complaints from townspeople, the sheriff of Center Point decided the only reasonable way to take care of the strays was with a shotgun.  He scheduled time on a Wednesday to eliminate the little homeless family.  Fortuitously, a local animal welfare group heard about this and on the Sunday before Teddy and his family were scheduled to be hunted and put down, a group of truly kind souls hit the streets of Center Point.  They located the dogs and scooped them up using some special equipment, thus saving five lives.  (I still get pretty emotional just thinking about this.  The idea of someone hurting Teddy pushes maternal instinct-esque buttons in me that I never knew I had before I adopted him).

To make things more lousy and complicated, Teddy was found without his left eye.  He underwent several procedures while in foster care to close the socket and drain it of remaining fluid.  He was also found with broken teeth and scars – all on the left side of his tiny, adorable head.  What happened is a mystery, but I can tell from the way Teddy cowers around tall men that someone treated him very, very badly early on in life.

Teddy makes a fantastic study-buddy.

Josh and I submitted pages of paperwork to the rescue group, Friends of Retrievers Rescue.  After a couple of phone interviews, we were approved to adopt and began the process of getting Teddy to us.  He was driven by an animal transport company from Alabama to Windham, New Hampshire.

Looking fly in his winter coat from Muffinhead Dog Jackets!

It was a week’s worth of waiting from when we were approved to adopt Teddy until we could pick him up in New Hampshire.  My excitement that week was tantamount to all of the anticipatory birthday and Christmas thrills from my entire life (combined!).  We arrived in New Hampshire to meet Theodore on May 8th, an overcast Saturday.  The Park-and-Ride pickup spot was full of other adopters (which made my heart swell!  I love people who love animals).  The transport van pulled up and everyone gathered by the sliding side doors.  Inside were stacks of crates containing nervous looking dogs.  Spotting Teddy was easy – he was in the front row.  He looked so much smaller than I had imagined!  He was the second dog to be released into owner custody.  We put on his new leash and the first thing he did was bolt towards a flock of little brown birds on a nearby patch of grass.  He hopped around, enjoying his freedom from the crate (Teddy detests confinement more than the average dog), then settled into the car with Josh and I for the ride home.

Hanging out in the blanket fort room with Josh.

Since that day, Teddy has been the best friend a girl could ask for.  He loves to cuddle and share snacks with me.  He is a bit neurotic like me, and we have developed a pretty strong codependency.  I could not have asked for a better companion.  I adopted Teddy at a time when I had few friends and lots of stress – he has made dealing with those troubles infinitely easier.  It’s damn hard to be sad with a 40lb pup slathering your face with messy dog kisses.

Ted’s first time playing in the snow!

This isn’t to say that dog ownership has been easy.  A few months after adopting Ted, we found out that his eye socket was still producing tissue to fill the empty cavity.  This caused swelling and pain in his non-eye, and required over $2000 worth of diagnostics and surgery.  He underwent a complete inoculation in October 2010.  Seven short months later, and Teddy was diagnosed with heartworm disease at a routine vet visit.  He just finished treatment for that at the end of this past summer.  His love of non-dog-friendly sweets has prompted a small handful of trips to the emergency vet.  He is terribly inconvenient, occasionally eats out of the garbage, harasses my cat, and has awful-smelling flatulence.  I hate walking him in extreme temperatures (which we have plenty of in Maine), and I hate sweeping animal hair from my floors every day.  BUT – I readily do all of these things because Theodore pays me back 100x with unconditional love.  Each and every hassle of dog ownership is absolutely worth it.

Decked out in his Halloween costume a week after having his inoculation.

There are many incredible dogs like Teddy waiting for people to rescue them.  The number of dogs being euthanized in high-kill shelters each day is startling, and I wish more people would consider adoption before going to an animal breeder or pet store when searching for a companion.

I really don’t think anyone could find this level of adorability in any dog other than a mix-breed!  Lab/Chow/Pit never looked so handsome!

Perhaps the best family portrait of all time.
Adorably gangster?
Hilarity in the kitchen!
After this was taken we headed home for snacks and snuggles.
The perfect dog.

If you are considering bringing a companion animal into your life, please consider adoption.  There are so many incredible animals waiting for loving people to rescue them.  Start at Petfinder.com – there you can find every kind of companion animal in every area of the country!  I would be even more pleased if folks would take a minute to peruse the website of Friends of Retrievers Rescue, the group that saved Teddy.  If you’d like to help but can’t adopt at this time, FOR Rescue is constantly in need of donations to help feed and medicate their animals.

Oh, one more thing!  If you’re interested in the exceedingly cool jacket that Teddy has, check out Muffinhead!  Josh’s friend, Emily finds various clothing items while thrifting and up-cycles them into dog coats of all kinds.  Teddy loves his winter jacket and we’re hoping to pick up a Muffinhead raincoat for him soon, too!  It would come in handy now, given all the rain that Maine has been subjected to of late.  Speaking of, I’m going to go enjoy this overcast weather with a cup of tea and my Dedalus Book of French Horror!

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