"Bijou reminds me why working at the shelter is so important; on any given day, there are 100 dogs like her that have so much potential to be someone’s best friend."
Everyone says she has the best dog in the world—and everyone is right. When I first met Bijou, she was barking at me behind the bars of her kennel cage. A newly trained volunteer at City Dogs Cleveland, I was not sure what to expect. My boyfriend and I became dog walkers with the secret intention of scoping out dogs that we might want to adopt. It didn’t seem like this riled-up 45-pound Pit Bull mix would be the one—until we got her outside. Then she showed us her true self: easy-going, entertaining, and a big affectionate ham.
A couple of weeks later, Bijou came home with us. I could not have guessed the profound impact she would have on my life. Bijou brings me joy in all the cliched ways. I wake up with her curled against my chest, and each day begins positively. She gets me outside—I’ve seen more of my neighborhood and local Metroparks than I ever would have without her. She has taught me responsibility, good humor, and patience. Her resilience is inspiring: despite an unknown history, being found on the streets and spending a month at the kennel, she is self-assured, unflappably cheerful, and endlessly entertaining. But beyond this, she has helped me find a greater purpose. Thanks to her, I have found a lifestyle, a community, and even a career in animal welfare.
After bringing Bijou home, my passion for City Dogs only deepened. I saw what an amazing dog had come from the shelter, and wanted to help all dogs find their families. As a volunteer I walked dogs, helped with social media, adoption counselled, and made many friends along the way. We began fostering, and were anxious at first—how would Bijou react? But we needn’t have worried; she greeted each new foster dog with the same frank friendliness she would give any person and welcomed them into her home. Big or small, old or young, male or female, she doesn’t mind. Our second foster dog was shut down and scared of everything. Bjiou demonstrated how to manage stairs, go on walks, and be a proper snuggly couch potato. Now we are on foster dog number seven! With each new guest, Bijou shares her bed, engages in play wrestling, or simply demonstrates how to be a dog.
I have since started working at the very kennel Bijou came from as the Adoption/Volunteer Coordinator. Bijou is my motivator, my inspiration, and my stress relief. At the end of a hard, emotional day, all I want to do is come home to squeeze her—then all the challenges don’t seem so insurmountable. Bijou reminds me why working at the shelter is so important; on any given day, there are 100 dogs like her that have so much potential to be someone’s best friend. Every Bijou deserves a home, and every home deserves a Bijou! I still marvel each day that I was lucky enough to bring home the best dog ever.
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 Izzy won City Dogs Cleveland in Ohio a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.