Adopted Dog Duo Made an Empty House Home Again

For Amanda Sue, Nacho and Soda were the perfect pair.

Amanda + Soda/Nacho

Amanda Sue and her husband were heavy-hearted after the loss of their beloved dogs. Then they crossed paths with two adoptable Chihuahua-Terriers.

"They sleep with me in bed each night. Nacho shares my chair when I eat breakfast every morning. When I pull back the shower curtain, they’re both looking up at me from the bathmat. "

Adopted dogs Soda & Nacho

It was mid-June. School had just let out for the summer. All year, I’d been looking forward to this time with my dogs, Jack and Sadie — trips to the river, after-walk naps together, sunset strolls in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That is what my summers had been made of for the last thirteen years — my entire adult life. My entire teaching career. My entire marriage. But this summer was different; Jack and Sadie had passed away. On this June afternoon as I turned my key in the backdoor, in place of a wiggling Whippet and baying Beagle: silence. I was alone. No dogs to walk. No dogs to feed. No dogs to settle in beside me on the couch while I wrote or read, waiting for my husband to get home. I didn’t know who I was without my dogs. The structure of my day disintegrated without them. Empty house, empty heart.

Adopted dogs Soda & Nacho

Soda was my glimmer of hope. She was a tiny, bright-eyed Chihuahua-Terrier my husband and I had tried very hard not to see during our volunteer orientation at the Richmond SPCA several weeks before. She was 6 months old, not quite five pounds, and seemed to expend all her energy attempting to engage us. Wherever we maneuvered ourselves in the group of volunteers, Soda weaseled her way around her corner kennel to position herself in our view, wagging her tail, wiggling her entire tiny body, and earnestly seeking eye contact. We looked away, went home, and didn’t talk about her until two weeks later when my husband asked, “Have you thought about that little brown dog?”

Adopted dogs Soda & Nacho
“Every day,” I answered.

We inquired about her, and within three days of Sadie’s passing, we got a call: Soda was available for adoption — and she had a littermate. We adopted them. Once more, we were a pack of four: my husband, Soda, Nacho, and I. The family felt whole again. Soda and Nacho renewed my sense of purpose and identity. Taking them to training classes at the Richmond SPCA with my husband, beginning and ending my days on a walk with them, and exploring the East Coast together all summer has given me the sense of fulfillment I lost when I kissed Jack and Sadie goodbye.

Adopted dogs Soda & Nacho

Recently, we were on the beach with friends. The Littles, as we’ve come to call them, trotted behind me wherever I went. “Do they follow you around like this at home?” a friend asked.

I thought for a second. They sleep with me in bed each night. Nacho shares my chair when I eat breakfast every morning. When I pull back the shower curtain, they’re both looking up at me from the bathmat. “Yeah,” I said. “They do.”

I never felt more alone than I did at the beginning of this summer, but with Soda and Nacho, I am never alone. Thanks to two tiny dogs who weigh less than 15 pounds combined, my heart, so recently hollow, has begun to heal.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Amanda Sue won Richmond SPCA in Richmond, Virginia a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.