Opening up for love

March 2020

I must admit that when I began searching through the various dog rescue websites late winter, I was a little hesitant. We had lost our little Tut girl in the fall after enjoying her love and friendship for 16 years and my heart was still raw. And as I looked at the photos of some cute and adorable and really sweet puppies and dogs, it was as if a conversation between my brain and my heart took place. It went something like this:

Brain: Hey, Heart, you need to think here. Isn’t it too soon? Are you ready to feel that pain again? Because that’s what will happen. You’ll fall in love with this dog, have lots of great times together, and before you know it, this dog will be old and you’ll have to go through it all again.

Heart: Well, yeah… But look at how sweet this dog is. His name is Tuck. And he’s a Lab/Husky cross, 8 months … and he’s good with cats. He would do great out…

Brain: Of course, he would love it out here. All dogs love being in the country. But don’t you remember how much it hurt you when Tut died? You loved her. And now you want to open yourself up to love again?

Heart: Yeah, I know I’m still not myself. I really do miss her, but…

Brain: But what Heart, but what?

Heart: Sometimes it’s not about me, it’s about giving a dog a much-needed home. And…

Brain: And what?

Heart: And it’s better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.

Brain: Hmph. You’re going to throw that old maxim at me? Yeah, well, whatever you say. But don’t come crying to me in a few years. I’ll only say, “I told you so.”

And that was the end of the conversation.

I filled out the questionnaire on the Paws for Love Website and waited for a response.

Kim, the director of Paws for Love, contacted me the next day. She told me Tuck had come from up north and was in need of a good home. He was a gentle soul but had had to fend for himself since he was a pup. He was in rough shape when a man found him and took him into his home. She then told me Tuck’s foster mom would be contacting me shortly to arrange a time for us to meet and if I decided I wanted him then I would have to go through a home inspection. I thanked her for her compassion and dedication to helping these animals and then waited by the phone with great anticipation.

A couple of days later, when I went to Tuck’s foster home to check him out, I was excited – and nervous. Would he be the right kind of dog for our farm? Would he fit in? Our old dog had some strange habits that made up her personality. She was a survivor. She ate everything from the raspberries and blueberries in our gardens to dried worms on the road. She and our cat, Max, went hunting together, sharing their mice and cuddling up for a nap after a busy day out. Would this dog have a personality? Would he grow on us? Would he fit in too?

When Tuck’s foster mom opened the door, Tuck came bounding in. He was energy to the max with all springs loaded. And as he bounced around the house, so happy to see his foster mom and his dog buddy, his face smiling and his tail wagging, I thought to myself: I think I like him.

His foster mom showed me how well he could sit on command, what his favourite toys were, and answered all of my questions. In the end, I said yes, I wanted to try him out. I left with the promise that I would pick him up after my home inspection in a few days and I would have a week to decide if he was a good fit with our family.

Our home passed the inspection and I brought Tuck home. He fit in perfectly. He was great with our cats, my daughter’s puppy, and even the horses. Everyone became his instant buddy, getting lots of licks on their faces – including the horses. I thought to myself: Yeah, I do like him.

I called Paws for Love and told them we wanted to keep Tuck. They were so happy. Yes, he would have a good home, lots of places to run, lots of friends. It was a new life for a dog who had so little before.

We spent our new days together going for long walks, playing fetch, getting to know some of the other dogs in the neighbourhood, and forming a lovely bond. Tuck followed me everywhere; the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom… He was like my shadow 24/7. I was liking him more and more each day.

The next week I had to go to work for a half day and leave Tuck at home. All morning I wondered how he was doing and if he was laying in the porch sad and lonely, missing me and having nothing to do. When I drove home and looked at our yard, I realized Tuck had found an “interesting” way to keep himself occupied while I was gone.

A trail of hay went from the barn, across the yard, across the driveway, up the front steps and in through the dog door.

I followed the trail and looked into the porch. There was Tuck lying in a bed of hay, wagging his tail. He looked up at me, all proud and happy, as if he was saying “Look, Mom! Look what I made! My own bed!” I laughed.

The next day, after I came home from work, there was another surprise. Tuck had brought several logs from our wood pile and stacked them up on the front steps near the door. “Look, Mom!” he said “Look what I did! Firewood! To keep us warm!” And I laughed again.

During the next few days Tuck delivered more and more presents: “Look, Mom! Dead squash from the compost pile!

I brought you food! Look, Mom! Poop! Nice and fresh from the barn! It’s tasty! Want to try some? Look, Mom! Look what I found! Tools from the garage! Were you looking for these?”

Each time I laughed. What a crazy dog. Tuck certainly had style and personality. Then, it happened. Little by little, my heart opened itself up to love and I finally said, “I love you, Tuck.” I knew we would have many wonderful years together. And my heart told my brain it’ll be worth it.

Donna White is an accomplished author and Jubilee Medal winner for her volunteer work with World Vision. Visit her website at

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