By Sarah E. Anderson
On March 19, 2008, around 2:50 p.m., I was frantically driving from my house in downtown Douglasville to my parents’ house in Winston, in hopes of getting my completed March Madness brackets to my dad. “If it’s not here by 3 p.m., it doesn’t count,” he’d reminded me about 10 times the night before.
Of course, once I hit Bankhead Highway, I realized my gas tank was still teetering on the edge of empty for the second day in a row. Also, if you’ll remember, that spring was the one when the Atlanta area saw a record number of tornadoes and bad weather. From the looks of things, if I didn’t hurry I’d find myself right in the middle of yet another nasty storm.
I’m not sure if I was more afraid of the impending weather or missing my dad’s deadlines (his role as family fantasy sports commissioner is a little more Vito Corleone than Rodger Goodell), but either way I stopped at R & R Superette, not two miles from my destination, and willed the gas pump to work as quickly as possible. While I was standing there, I saw a little dog wander up from behind the building. She was just a baby–maybe a few months old at the most. The wind was terrible, it was beginning to hail, and the dog was heading right for the highway.
Now I’m not one to pick up stray animals. While I’d like to take every single one of them home with me, I realize it’s not realistic. However, this little golden brown puppy was so young and so lost and the weather was getting worse by the second. I decided I’d call her, and if she came, I’d take her with me; if not, there was nothing more I could do.
After a few seconds of “come here, little puppy,” the dog ignored me, and I returned my attention to my gas tank. I said a silent prayer that she would not get hit by a car, but just as I was screwing on the lid, I felt something on back of my leg. The puppy had quite obviously decided I was worthy of her time.
I remember showing up at my parents’ house with a sopping wet puppy in one hand and sopping wet March Madness brackets in the other and the look of horror on my mom’s face. “What is that, and why is it here?” she asked. Followed by, “I’m not keeping it; your father will have a heart attack if you leave it here.”
Despite their protests, the little dog ended up staying with my parents for a few days while I spent every spare moment trying to find it a home. My dad, on the other hand, spent every spare moment reminding me that they were not keeping that dog. I ended up finding a rescue group in Dallas that would take her in for a not so small donation. The next morning, my mom and I drove the poor, unsuspecting little puppy to Dallas and left her with strangers. The whole way home, my mom kept asking, “Do you think she’s OK?”
A few days later, I was back at my parents’ house, watching some NCAA basketball. I believe I was contemplating why I’d picked Tennessee over Louisville, when I heard my dad say quietly, “She reminded me of a little deer.”
“What? Who reminded you of a little deer?”
“That little dog,” he said. Then he added, “I wanted to name her Maddie, since we found her during March Madness.”
I’m sure you know what comes next. That Saturday, my mom and I drove to PetSmart in Hiram where “Maddie” had been put up for adoption. We made it just in time; a little old lady was eyeing her when we arrived. A bunch of paperwork and a few hundred dollars later, we took her home.
Maddie has been living with my parents for almost three years now. She and my dad are inseparable. She waits by the window for him to get home from work each day, and when he comes inside she flings herself at him with a look of pure happiness on her face. And though my dad often pretends she drives him crazy, it’s obvious the feeling is mutual.
It might be hard to find the perfect pet, but sometimes, they find you.