Joni By My Side
In her own words, here is Martha's story about adopting her best friend Joni from BARCS.
In 2016, I was 23 years old and my father was dying of cancer. I talked to my therapist regularly, and one day I half-joked to her that I should get a dog to help with how I was feeling. To my pleasant surprise, she told me she thought that was a good idea.
When I arrived at BARCS, I told the staff person working with me what kind of pup I was looking for, and they recommended several sweet dogs to me. I was having a really hard time deciding who to take home, so I then asked if they felt there were any super deserving dogs that had been overlooked for a while. That was when they showed me Sandy. She was sitting quietly in the back of her cage, looking pretty sad and scared. As soon as we took her outside, though, she lit up. She was so sweet and so excited, I thought her tail might wiggle off her body. I could tell how much she just wanted to be loved. I thought about it overnight, but called first thing in the morning to bring her home. I named her Joni after Joni Mitchell (I was listening to the album "Blue" a lot).
My father got to meet Joni a couple times before he passed away. At that point, he was bedridden and very low energy in homecare hospice. The couple times I brought Joni over to his house, though, it really seemed to brighten his day. He wasn't laughing much at that point, but Joni's little wiggle butt definitely got a couple chuckles out of him.
Sadly, my father died a couple months after Joni came into my life. On the days when I had trouble getting out of bed, Joni stayed cuddled up next to me until I was ready.
A year later, I started dating the man I would marry. When I saw how much he and Joni adored one another, I was done for. Joni was the ring-bearer at our wedding ceremony last year. Weekend mornings are filled with dog sandwich cuddles and sloppy puppy kisses. We just absolutely adore her.
Joni was invaluable in my healing process during and after my father's death. But even under non-stressful times, I deal with anxiety regularly. Coming home to Joni melts away my stress and anxiety like nothing else. Giving her a hug when I'm having a bad day always makes me smile. Taking her for long walks at parks and around our neighborhood is as good for my health as for hers. Whenever my husband and I are coming home from a trip or vacation and feeling blue about having to return to "real life," we always point out to each other that there is a dog waiting for us at home, and it makes everything better.
Adopting a dog from BARCS is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I cannot imagine my life without my pup at my side.