Adopted Dog Helps Heal Broken Heart After a Breakup

Stella swooped in to heal the heartbreak.

Katharine + Stella

Together, Stella and Katharine found hope, healing and a second chance at love.

"Full of empathy due to struggles of her own, Stella got me through those unforeseen days of heartbreak with her unconditional love, loyalty, and endless nose licks."

Adopted Dog Stella

Stella has two white patches on her shoulder blades. That’s where her angel wings sprout out. You can’t see them, but I’m convinced they’re there because she flew into my life right when I needed her — just days before heartbreak.

I went to an adoption event with a sound plan: to foster a dog for one night, do it secretly while my boyfriend (now ex, wait for it) was out of town, and determine whether dog ownership was right for me (us). Stella looked like a low maintenance choice: sleeping in her kennel, facing away from all the barking and commotion. As I lifted her out, she gingerly wrapped herself around my neck like a mink stole.

Adopted Dog Stella

When I brought her home, we got to know each other in the backyard. Stella crawled up on my lap and placed her front paws on my chest, gently encouraging me to lean back. I lay down on the grass and stroked her soft fur, making dozens of promises — that she’d be ok, she’d find a home, she’d be loved.

On our drive back to the adoption event the next morning, Stella looked at me disapprovingly from the passenger’s seat. Her knowing, sad eyes asked me, “How could you have made me all of those promises when you can’t guarantee they’ll come true?” Tears of guilt streamed down my face. Unmoved, Stella stared at me with the lower whites of her eyes revealing her judgment.

Adopted Dog Stella

I arrived at the adoption event in peak condition: face blotchy, double breathing, and unprepared for dog ownership. Clearly, they saw I was Stella’s ideal forever home! But maybe I was, given the 12-pound beauty beside me — nippled out from recent motherhood, flea ridden, and with an underbite only a mother (me?) could love. Perfect for each other!

We became even more in sync the next day when my relationship ended unexpectedly. Together, Stella and I boarded the hot mess express with emotional baggage and terrible separation anxiety. When my boyfriend moved out of the house, my heart broke; when I left the house for a run, Stella’s teeth broke (from tearing off the metal kick plate to the back door). My spirit was reflected in her shivering body, the worried furrow in her brow, and the downturn of her tail, which remained defensively curled in between her legs for months.

Adopted Dog Stella

Thankfully, Stella’s tail remained the gauge on my own emotional wellbeing. In time, it began unfurling at an apprehensive 45-degree angle. Soon thereafter, it began sticking straight out, awkwardly parallel. These days, that little tail points straight up with sass and s(wag)ger.

Full of empathy due to struggles of her own, Stella got me through those unforeseen days of heartbreak with her unconditional love, loyalty, and endless nose licks. She swooped in right when I needed her, and truly saved me. Wings or not, she’ll always be my little angel.

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 Katharine won 4 Paws 4 Life Rescue in Littleton, Colorado a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.