Greetings. It’s been six months since Vincent became a member of our family. And since the moment we picked him up, at a rest stop near the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, we have become more and more smitten with his furry, adorable, and appreciative self. In fact, there hasn’t been a single day when we haven’t thanked our lucky stars that we found each other…connected by the Flatcoated Retriever Society Rescue organization not so long after our last furry, adorable, and appreciative dog Ella died of cancer at the young age of eight.
As it turns out, we were Vincent’s tenth family and the end of his long and very challenging journey to find his “forever home.” A journey that took him to two “kill” shelters and many families before becoming available one last time. He escaped from the first kill shelter just after his brother was adopted, then spent time on his own in rural North Carolina where he was hit by a car, found, and then turned in to another kill shelter. There he was discovered and saved by a wonderful rescue coordinator hours before he was to be put to sleep. But a variety of health challenges including heartworm and some major infections which caused him to lose all of the fur on his underside, combined with being bullied by other dogs and even cats, left him bouncing from home to foster home and through a series of transitions that must have seemed increasingly routine.
And through it all, Vincent remained remarkably upbeat and resilient. In fact, the ad on the rescue website said that a trainer had declared him to be “close to the perfect dog.” It was a statement that must have surely caused prospective families, including ours, to wonder how a “close to the perfect dog” had been in nine homes. Talk about clever or hopeful marketing.
Yet all Vincent was looking for, and all that any of us are ever looking for, is the right fit and the chance to find a place where we can grow, prosper, and make a difference. In all of the relationships we hold dear and the places where we live and work.
After six months we can safely say that Vincent is “close to the perfect dog.” Sure he inhales his food, destroys plush toys, eats large clumps of grass as soon as I mow the lawn, steals a sock or two, occasionally begs at the dinner table, and is afraid of dogs, cats, turtles, cars, thunder, lightning, rain, odd sounds, and even his own shadow. And to be certain, we have spent a small fortune on vet bills and natural remedies intended to cure his last remaining ailments. But there is no kinder, gentler, sillier, happier, cuddlier, retrievier (probably not a word), more grateful, or more loyal sixty-five pound creature on the planet. And each day our appreciation for him and the amazing magic that he has brought to our lives continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
The phrase “forever home” is widely used by rescue leagues and animal shelters to describe their hope that the next family will be the right match and offer the stability and affection that a dog or cat so desperately longs for. And, just like Vincent and the millions of other turned in or abandoned animals in our midst, all most employees are really looking for is their “forever home.” Not in the sense that they intend to stay their forever, but in their hope that they will find a place where their strengths are appreciated, their defects are insignificant, and they can make the most meaningful contribution possible. That they will find a place, for as long as possible, where they will truly matter for who they are and what they can help us to become. A place that will take the time to bring out their own amazing magic.
Which shouldn’t be too much to ask. In fact, isn’t it in our best interest to make this happen?
We win in business and in life when we find a place where we belong. A place that recognizes from our picture, or an ad, or a first encounter that, even with all of our flaws, we too, are “close to the perfect dog.”