10 years ago this week, on a cold and snowy Ann Arbor day, I walked into the Humane Society of Huron Valley with the intention of adopting a high energy little puppy to be my running buddy. Since this would be my first adoption, I brought along my mom with me for help. Of course I was immediately drawn to all the nippy little pups who clearly were not house broken. My mom, however, kept telling me to look in the kennel by the door.

As I looked over, I’m sure I rolled my eyes as I told my mom that I wasn’t interested. That dog, a giant black fur blob, lay in the back of the kennel and didn’t even come up to the gate when we approached. I kept on walking.

As our visit progressed, my mom kept coming back to that dog. Finally, I agreed to at least take that dog for a walk so I could definitively say that this dog wasn’t for me. Her name was Midnight. Once out of the kennel, she got more lively but wouldn’t really run, didn’t jump and was generally a calm, kind of lazy, dog. She was certainly cute, though!

As we went to take her back inside, an employee asked if we had heard her story. We had not. She explained that Midnight was surrendered at 6 months because her family “was moving.” It was clear, though, that her gait was poor and she soon had surgery for hip dysplasia. She then spent a few months bouncing around foster homes in a sort of dog rehab. That day was her first day in the kennels for adoption. We were told that she would never run, never climb stairs and that she only had a life expectancy of 6-8 years. (On a side note, her paperwork also said she was great on a leash and never barked!) In that moment, terrified of a special needs dog, I knew we were done. Knowing my mom, there was no way she would let me leave without her. So that day, January 26, 2008, Midnight became mine.

Midnight quickly showed us that she was a normal dog! Although she had a stiff gait, once off the leash, she would take off running. While she would never keep up with her “friends” at doggie daycare or at the park, she would always try her best and clearly have lots of fun doing so! Over the years, she has been by my side from the most mundane of days, to the most memorable.

Together, we have endured the passing of my mom, three moves in two states, grad school, marriage (with a four legged brother that even 8 years later she is still trying to tolerate!), two 2-legged brothers as well as her own health concerns. There has never been a day that she has walked “well” on a leash – not even for her final test to become a therapy dog (but she passed nonetheless!) nor has there been day where she didn’t sit by the door and bark incessantly if any of her “family” members weren’t home.

It’s hard to imagine that its been decade already. While her personality is still as vibrant and fierce as ever, I can see that time is leaving a mark on her. Over the past months, she rarely walks upstairs to her bed but instead guards the bottom step and more recently it’s been more difficult to make it outside “in time.” But Midnight has defied the odds stacked against her.

My life is forever changed for the better because of the big fury blob in the kennel by the door. I cannot imagine what life will eventually be like without the dog my mom picked for me.

Moral of the story: Adopt your new best friend at a local shelter!