Adopted Dog Proves Good Things Come in Small Packages

For Leo, Skeeter is truly man’s best friend.

Leo + Skeeter

Skeeter was only supposed to be an overnight foster, but this little dog with a big personality won the hearts of his new family — especially dad Leo.

"Skeeter and I are a comic contrast in shape and size but we have become inseparable."

My wife says I’m like a dog with a bone. I’ll say stuff to shake things up and I don’t always let go when I should. “You’ve been particularly crabby lately,” she said. Yeah, I drive her nuts … criticizing her driving and her dishwasher loading technique. Like everyone, my 2020 vision has been a blur. My personal MANdemic — home-stuck without pro sports, holding tickets to cancelled concerts, bereft of company and favorite eats at shuttered restaurants — was further amplified by the passing of my best dog of all time, Patsy. As much as I tried to count myself lucky, depression was eating at my edges.

As a volunteer at the shelter, my wife gets her dog fix every weekend. She’s brought many dogs home to foster for a time and each one was adopted (I would have kept them all). A month after Patsy died, a strange little stray turned up at the shelter and the next thing I knew, Skeeter showed up for a sleepover. Looking like the offspring of a Siamese cat and a Martian, my wife intended to take him back to the shelter the next day. When I couldn’t stop saying, “He’s SOOOO cute,” and “He’s just like a mini Patsy,” she caved.

Skeeter and I are a comic contrast in shape and size but we have become inseparable. My wife doesn’t lick my fingers after a handful of peanuts, or lean in with excitement to smell my breath, but Skeeter does. My wife no longer heralds my arrival home with a happy dance, nor does she hop into bed at 8 p.m. with me and wag her tail, but Skeeter does. I admit that having a little dog is a bit incongruous with my MANtasy world of fast cars, fine cigars, and electric guitars. Wary of entering the white belt and shuffleboard zone, I intend for Skeeter to share the couch and enthusiasm with me on football Sundays, familiar with the smell of a fine craft beer and the very real prospect of a leftover pizza bone. My blood pressure takes a dive when he hypnotizes me with those big brown eyes, and I’ve become a shameless shutterbug.

Some people say after the loss of a dog they couldn’t get another one. I’ll never forget Patsy, but the fact is that nothing could soothe my troubled mind faster than having another dog to focus on, dote over, and care for. For me it’s not a home without a dog. I look forward to the day when other icons of manliness latch onto this small dog ethos. It would be cool to see DeNiro on the streets of New York with a Yorkie, or Peyton Manning petting a Peekapoo. That would go a long way to laying the groundwork for all men to walk small dogs with dignity intact. Now that I’ve MANaged to conquer any lingering embarrassment when walking with this little Skeeterbug, I just have one question… does this dog make me look fat?

Each year, the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Leo won Angel Ridge Animal Rescue in Meadowlands, Pennsylvania a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.