Just a month into my first semester at college, my mom died in a tragic accident — completely out of the blue, she was gone. My best friend, my confidant, my mommy — gone. No longer would she call me to talk boys, no more would I hear her voice on the other line. I would never get another hug from her.
When I lost her, I lost everything else, too. My whole world seemed to end. I dropped out of school for the semester to be with my Dad, who was devastated and needed someone in the big empty house, someone to cry with, to remember her with, and just sit at dinner with — though we usually sat in silence, our food untouched.
I lost myself, too. I forgot who I was and what my direction was in life. After some convincing, my Dad and sister finally got me to return to school. I had a hard time adjusting; it was tough for me to live in a dorm filled with other girls with normal lives, their parents coming to visit them and taking us all out to dinner, calling them at the end of the day. Halfway into the semester, I decided I needed to move out of the dorms and into an apartment. I needed my space, I needed to get away from everyone. I wanted to be alone.
There was one thing I required, however, and that was a dog. A reason to get out of bed in the morning, when all I wanted was to wallow in misery and self-pity. A month before I moved out of my dorm, I started looking at dogs on Petfinder. For some reason (maybe the Southern girl in me) I wanted a good outdoor dog that I could take anywhere.
Enter Tommy the crazy Coonhound. I saw him online and couldn’t get this lanky, tri-colored boy out of my mind. The day after I moved into my new apartment, I had a date set to meet him. He had been rescued from a shelter in South Carolina when he was one year old and lived in foster care for a year after that. Half of his right ear was bitten off, but from the pictures I could tell it gave him even more character. I knew he was living a good life since being rescued, but he still wanted a home with someone to love.
The second I saw him, I had to have him, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. While I admit he’s not always the easiest to deal with — he is a Coonhound and I am a college student living in an apartment — I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. He knows me as well as I know him, and while I am still struggling with losing my Mom, whenever Tommy senses I am down he is right there, putting his big head in my face and offering his snuggling services.
As he’s the first dog I’ve really cared for on my own, it’s definitely been a learning process. While my friends stay out all night, I find myself staying in or leaving early, wanting nothing more than to be in bed with my main man. When I feel like giving up, Tommy gives me a reason to hold on — he gives me hugs that help me when I’m missing my Mom’s.
Not too long ago, our little family grew, when Bongo the Basset mix bounded his way into both our hearts. While Tommy seems to not like many other dogs, he loves Bongo and is very protective of the little man, almost as much as he is of me. Ever the guard dog, he protects his territory and his family.
Without Tommy, I don’t know if I would still be here today. Every day he’s there, smiling his big, goofy, lopsided grin, and ready for a new adventure. While people say how great it is that I’ve rescued two hounds, I know it was the dogs who rescued me. I am forever grateful for Tommy and for Cullen’s Archangel Rescue; if it hadn’t taken a chance on him, I never would have met my crazy boy.
So, to everyone I say: Rescue a life. It just may save yours.
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