My Forever Home

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, Christmas gift shopping and tree trimming have begun, yet the treat du jour is still leftover turkey. It’s a good time to reflect on how thankful I am for my forever home.

It was an entirely different holiday weekend when I went to live with my new Mommy. She took me home on Good Friday! And what a good, no GREAT, Friday it was.

A room with a view!
A room with a view!

I was stretched out on the backroom couch, gnawing on TT (towel/toy) when she walked into the tobacco shop with a wad of cash to pay my ransom. It certainly felt like I’d been dog-napped, and kept in a place where only the bare necessities were provided, rather than the love and comforts I’d remembered from when I was a new puppy, before they shipped me off to live in a tobacco shop alone.

Now I was getting my second chance!

I jumped off the couch and ran over to her, barking and jumping in delight. She exchanged the cash and in return the tobacco shop owner gave her my carrier, TT, half of a bag of dry food, a 20 foot long red lead, and ME, of course.

I listened as they talked about me.

“I was only able to get $200 in cash right now, but will have the rest for you next week.” she said.

“Yeah, that’s cool. I DO know where you work,” he replied in an abrasive tone. The tobacco store owner had always been kind to me, playing with me whenever he came into the store, but I knew he could be difficult to tolerate on a good day and downright miserable on a bad one! My new Mommy didn’t seem bothered by him though.

“Yes, you do,” she laughed. Not really thinking much about him, I’m sure. Her mind had to be consumed with ME! “Oh, and by the way, I’m going to change her name to GiGi.”

A new name! I was starting my life over with a new identity. No more Chloe: tobacco shop pup. I was just GiGi. I might have had a rough start, but things were about to change, I could feel it.

“Oh yeah, so no more Chloe? Okay, she’s your dog now. You can call her what you want. Bye Chloe, or GiGi or whatever your name is.” He patted me on the head, and I jumped up to lick him. Dogs don’t hold grudges and he had kept me out of the cold at least. I figured I could give him a proper, sloppy goodbye!

After the goodbyes, they put me in my crate, he held the Door To Freedom open for us and into her car we went. Talk about a GOOD Friday!

As she drove me to my new home, I wasn’t able to see a lot through the door of the crate, but it didn’t matter. I was headed towards something that I couldn’t see, with no idea how I was getting there, but I had faith, and sometimes when that’s all you have, you discover that’s really all you need.

She talked to me as she drove.

“Okay GiGi, I’ve had two cats for the past 14 years. I’ve never owned a dog. I’ve lived with dogs and had dogs as a kid, but you are my first dog!”

‘Sweet!’ I barked. I didn’t care how much experience she had with dogs, or whether she’d ever owned another dog. All I cared about was a new home and a new life with my new Mommy.

Before I knew it, we were pulling into a driveway and she asked me, “Are you ready to see your new home, GiGi?”

She turned around, reached back and put her fingers through the crate doors, and I licked my ascent. Let’s do this!

‘Now get me out of this crate!!’ I barked.

She attached me to my lead, let me in the door and there I was, in my new home. Five rooms all for ME! There were chairs, and couches and a bed and blankets everywhere. And there was a room outside without a roof, and a big window behind the couch. There was so much to look at and smell and investigate.

A room without a roof!
A room without a roof!

I ran all over the place, from room to room, nose in every corner, jumping on the furniture, running non-stop. It was mine, all mine. My forever home.



Crossed Paws and Puppy Kisses

‘Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored’ is all I could think as I chewed on my pillow, half-asleep on the couch in the back of the tobacco shop, but also on alert for the dinging bell of my Door to Freedom!

That particular day I was on even higher alert for the bell than on most, because I was going to get a visitor from my new friend today! She promised to come visit me and I’d been waiting all morning and into the afternoon. Where was she? I could only hope she hadn’t changed her mind and I’d see her walking through the tobacco store door any minute.

Outside that door I’d seen cars, bikes and squirrels to chase, innumerable things to sniff, countless people to pet me and most of all, other dogs to bark at and play with! A few times a day, my co-worker Nicole would take me through the door and out on a walk in front of the strip center where I was living. In addition to the Catering shop where my new friend (and hopefully new Mommy) worked, I lived near a Liquor store and a Pizza place too. You can only imagine the smells…good, bad and unrecognizable! Unfortunately I only got a few minutes outside every day, which is way better than no time outside, so I didn’t whine about it too much. Every single day I thought about what it would be like to walk further than the front sidewalk, because I knew there was more to see and smell than pizza, booze, cigarette smoke and catered cuisine. The world out there seemed to go on forever and I wanted to explore every bit of it! I tried to pull Nicole as far down the sidewalk as I could, but I usually got turned back around as soon as we walked past the 7-11 in the strip center next door. Nicole had to work, after all, and so did I! Who else was going to bark a greeting at every customer who walked in?!

Speaking of work, I was about to doze off during a particularly slow time at the shop when the bell alerted me that there was someone in the shop. I abandoned my spot on the couch, ran around to the front of the store, and there she was, smelling as yummy as the day before! My new best friend had come back and she was smiling right at me! I ran up to her, jumping at her knees encouraging her to pet me, love me, and hold me.

“Hi, I’m Andrea” she said to Nicole, “I’m here to see Chloe. I talked to the owner yesterday about buying her.”

“Sure, he told me. You can sit with her around back, and stay as long as you like.”

‘You should stay FOREVER!’ I barked at her.

I followed her to my couch, and as soon as she sat down, I jumped on her lap and made a leap for her face. She was completely surprised by my forward nature, but I wanted her to know how happy I was that she was there, and that she hadn’t forgotten about me.

Puppy Kisses
Puppy Kisses!

“Wow, she sure licks a lot, doesn’t she?” laughed Andrea, as she tried to hold me back, but once again my jumpiness and downright doggedness paid off. I launched at her face in excitement a few more times. Being a novice with little dogs, she seemed reluctant to hold me down, and let me continue to bounce off her lap and lick her face for at least two full minutes!

“Yeah, she is a really good dog, but kind of crazy. She’s really sweet though. I wanted to take her home, but my husband said 3 dogs and 2 cats was enough!”

“Well, I’m really considering it. I don’t have any pets right now and I’m only working part-time. It would be a great time for me to get a dog, and I’ve always wanted one. I’m pretty sure I’m going do it!”

‘Yes, yes, yes, she likes me, she really likes me!’ I thought happily, and jumped up at her face again to show my appreciation.

“That’s great, I hope you do. She needs a good home. This store is no place for a puppy to live,” said Nicole.

“How old is she? I didn’t realize she was still a puppy.”

“She will be a year old next month.”

I was turning one and hopefully I’d be celebrating that milestone in a new home. Paws crossed!

After almost an hour of snuggling, petting and face licking, Andrea had to leave, but whispered to me as she stood up, “I’ll be back, little one.”



The Day We Met

I heard the dinging bell of the door being opened and looked up just as she walked in to the tobacco store. I immediately stopped chewing on my TT (towel/toy) and ran up to her, barking my greeting. I sensed something different about her, and it wasn’t just because she smelled SO strongly of food (I later found out why). She bent down immediately and didn’t ignore me like so many of the other customers did. She must have had very little experience with jumpy, little dogs like me, and seemed quite taken aback when I jumped up at her face and licked her repeatedly. She laughed and tried to hold me down, but I’m squirmy and persistent. This didn’t seem to bother her one bit, since she looked up at the owner of the store, and asked, “Are you selling her?’

Did I just hear right? After months of being a tobacco shop girl, was I going to get another chance at living in a real home with this lady who smelled good enough to eat?

“Yeah, I was going to sell her to an employee, but she hasn’t come up with the money. She said if anyone else wanted to buy her that would be cool.” he responded.

“How much are you asking?” she replied. I was feeling so hopeful. Was my dream coming true?

“I paid $1,000 for her, but I’m only asking for $250.” What an awesome deal, right!? Wait a minute…only $250? That can’t be right, I’m priceless!! But that is totally beside the point. Was she going to have enough money to take me home?

“Wow, great deal. She is so cute, and I’ve been thinking a lot about getting a little, white dog actually. I can’t believe there is one here for sale right next door to where I work! What kind of dog is she?”

“She’s a pure-bred Maltese. I got her in the city for my daughter, but my wife didn’t want her anymore, so she has been living here. Where do you work?”

‘Yes, yes, where do you work? Is that why you smell so good?’ I wondered to myself. I jumped up at her legs, as she was now standing, demanding an answer from her.

“I work for the catering company next door.” she answered, as she leaned over to pet me, “My ex-fiancée is the owner, but we’re still friends. I only started there last month. I haven’t been in here sooner, because I don’t smoke anymore,” she laughed, “I’m actually just in here for a water.”

Catering? That means food, right? Lots of food!

‘Please take me home with you!’ I barked.

“Well, if you don’t mind, I need some time to think about it. I have never owned a dog before, just cats. But she is definitely sweet. I’m going to come back tomorrow and visit her!”

‘Cat, cats, did she just say cats?’ I growled.

Never mind, she just said she was coming back to visit me tomorrow. I jumped up in the air and waved my paws around like I just didn’t care! But truth was, that was the best news I’d had in a long time. This lady I’d just met, who let me kiss and lick her, and who smelled SOOO good was coming back to visit me!

That night when I fell asleep, I had dreams of snuggling up next to a big roasted chicken, but it had that sweet lady’s face. Confusing, but also quite comforting. She had to come back, she just had to…

Please come back!
Please come back!

My Origin Story – Tobacco Store Beginnings

No known pictures of my puppy months exist, but I probably looked something like this.
No known pictures of my puppy months exist. I probably looked something like this! Cute, huh?

I was born in the great and windy city of Chicago in May of 2013, adopted by a family with a little girl, little boy AND a German Shepherd puppy. Life was great! They called me Chloe. My German Shepherd brother let me play with him and didn’t mind that I’m a little bit cuckoo (I really can’t help it, I have an exuberance for life!). I guess my owners didn’t exactly feel the same way, because after just a few months, the Mom of the family told the Dad that she didn’t want me anymore and kicked me out of the house. Luckily, the Dad owned a Tobacco Shop, so I had a place to go to keep me off the streets.

“…I have an exuberance for life!”

I spent my days tied up to a 20 Foot, red plastic lead, chewing on pillows or my towel/toy (TT). I didn’t have any other toys or bones to keep me busy, so I decided to make a job for myself. I was able to get just close enough to the front door to make a good greeter. People were constantly coming in, and I’d bark, bark, bark my hellos and goodbyes. When I was real lucky, a customer would bend over to pet me and I’d give them sneak-attack licks on their face (to this day, I’m a pro at the sneak-attack face-lick!)

I must have been pretty good at my job, because a lot of people seemed to like me. I enjoyed being so social, even if the hours sucked (I never got to leave) and it got pretty lonely after hours. When the store closed at 10PM, everyone left. Except I didn’t get to leave, or go home, because I no longer had one. Whoever was closing up the smoke shop that day, would put me in my crate with my TT, shut off most of the lights and leave me by myself for 12 hours. From 10PM-10AM, I was locked up in my crate with only TT to keep me company. There were loud noises and things that went bump in the night. I whined and barked at first, but realized acceptance was best. I would fall asleep curled up next to TT, dreaming of a life I didn’t know yet, running through fields and exploring the outdoors, adventures and travels and beautiful places. I dreamt of it all!

“…acceptance was best.”

Every day was a new day and the possible joys of the next day were what kept me from giving up hope during those long, dark hours alone. I had hopes for a new home and a happy family. I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew it wouldn’t always be like that. It couldn’t be! I was too cute, friendly and full of potential to spend my life as a tobacco shop pup!