There was one thing I always knew growing up – I loved dogs, and so did my family. We always had a full house of four-legged fluffs.
When I moved away to college, life started to become overwhelming. I had always struggled with depression and anxiety, but it didn’t start to become unbearable until the end of my freshman year. I missed the comfort of my furry best friends, my confidants, and the ones that I told all my secrets to. I began hounding my parents with the idea that once I moved off campus, I should get a dog; but, as they put it, “the timing and logistics weren’t right”. Second semester sophomore year took a turn for the worst.
Each day seemed to pass even slower. Nights became terrible with time ticking at a snail’s pace, but my mind racing at a million miles a minute. I was becoming physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. As midterms approached, I lusted for time away – to recuperate and try to get my mental back on track. One Tuesday afternoon, I was walking back to my car from North Campus, where I was skimming my Facebook feed and talking to my Mom – and there he was on my newsfeed – my future furball – sitting on death row with less than 24 hours to live.
And I instantaneously knew in my heart of hearts that we were destined to be together. Even though I knew that I wanted, needed Rescue Ralph in my life, the rational side of me began questioning our fate. – What type of dog was he? Did he get along with other animals? Can I even have a dog in my apartment complex? – to name a few.
After a call to the rescue group, Angels Among Us, I found out that a woman in Tennessee had sponsored Ralph, and his name had been taken off the list to be euthanised. I’m not sure who God was looking after at this point in time, whether it was Ralph, or me, but my heart fluttered when I heard this information. Confirming the details I had locked in place, I began researching the answers to my previous questions.
As the days of that week passed, I already felt myself having a higher sense of purpose – a reason to get up in the morning, something to look forward to, a new escape, a way of dealing with my depression and anxiety, and it was all thanks to this dog that I still really knew nothing about. And then it happened. An email was sent out saying that someone was needed to transport Rescue Ralph from Commerce to Atlanta.
Immediately, I volunteered. What better way to kick off my Spring Break than to pick up this clunky 8 month old puppy?!? This was the first time I truly believed in fate. That Friday morning, I bought a doggy seat belt and headed on out of Athens to the shelter in Commerce to pick up Ralph and take him to his foster family. Those two words foster family – broke my heart. This boy deserved a forever home. As I pulled up to the shelter I prayed that Ralph would love me back as much as I already loved him. There was a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I told the desk attendant I was here to pick up Ralph – they didn’t seem to notice me nervously fidgeting with my hands.
From around the corner I heard the vet assistant being pulled by a dog, who I assumed was Ralph, and boy was I right! This 8-month-old puppy was not a small dainty thing; instead he was 70 lbs. of rambunctiousness. Barreling towards me, Ralph proceeded to knock me over and then cover my face with kisses. Fate, I told myself, fate would make this happen. Our car ride was nothing less than adventuresome.
I was not going to pass up the opportunity to show this boy off to my parents and give them my own puppy eyes to get their approval. My parents’ biggest concern was if Ralph would get along with our current dogs. After a brief introduction to the pack, it seemed that everything I had hoped and prayed for was for nothing.
My mom volunteered to ride down with me to drop Ralph off at his foster family’s home. Heartbroken and teary eyed, I welcomed the thought of company. As I gathered my things and prepared to load Ralph in the car, my dad walked into the garage. He must have seen how much love was already in my heart for Ralph because he asked the golden question, “Are you sure it won’t work?” And without hesitation, I started to cry tears of joy; this boy was officially going to be mine.
After filling out the paperwork and getting Ralph adjusted, I renamed him Sarge because of the way he sat and observed the outdoors. Six weekends stood between Sarge and I being together full time. My landlord would not allow me to bring him up to Athens; so, every weekend I made the trek down the 316 to my parents’ house to spend Friday through Sunday with him. He was exactly what I needed, and still is. I always ask – “who rescued who?”
In the last 4 years he has helped me face my social anxiety, makes me want to get up in the mornings, and has become my best friend. Looking back, overcoming these logistical hurtles solidified the fact we were destined to be together. Having Sarge in my life has been the biggest blessing God could have given me. He is the reason I smile, he is the reason I wake up and he is the reason that I am reminded that even on my worst days, life will get better and there is always something to wag your tail at.