The Pup That Never Gave Up

Halsey wasn’t what they wanted, but he was everything they needed.

every gift saves lives

every gift saves lives

Jeannie + Halsey

A common refrain from our daughter consisted of: 1. a reminder of her three brothers, 2. the suffering they cause, and 3. thanks to the logic only an eight year old can pull off, the obvious solution: “My life would be so much better if we had a dog.”

Agreed. It is, after all, the least we could do for a girl with her afflictions. Unfortunately, the aforementioned brothers have allergies. We are firm believers in adopting dogs. Surely somewhere out there is a hypoallergenic one waiting for a family?

"There is no companion like him: a friend to snuggle with on the couch, a furry pillow to rest a small head upon, a comfort after a bad day."

Finally, after months of online searching, we found a standard poodle available for adoption. We piled in the van. Walking through the aisles of dogs, the air vibrated with the howls of excited pups. We located the poodle only to find out he was not a good fit for kids. Crestfallen, we hung our heads and filed out.

Before we got to the door, my hand brushed up against a pink tongue and I looked down upon a whimpering, shaggy mess determinedly wagging his tail behind the bars. One look at all that matted hair and I thought, “No way this one is going to pass the allergy test.” But his plaintive cry of, “What about me?” was moving.

Before we left, the adoption coordinator asked if we were interested in a particular dog. I told her that with our allergies it was unlikely any dog there would work. However, I mentioned my hairy friend, noting that at the least, my kids would love to play with him before we went. She brought him out and of course, we fell in love.

He was ecstatic to find little hands and faces petting him, offering his belly for a long-awaited rub. Then the coordinator offered, “Well, we are short on space and if you could foster him for two weeks, it would be a great help. If your family has a reaction, bring him back. If not, we will consider it a successful adoption!” Back to the van with four happy kids and one rambunctious dog. We headed straight to the groomer.

Six months later, we are allergy-free and smitten. Halsey is the friendliest, most patient dog you can imagine and we cannot go anywhere without someone asking to sink their hands in his soft, shaggy mane. His calm demeanor is interrupted by bouts of playfulness with the kids that always end with a lazy plop on the floor. There is no companion like him: a friend to snuggle with on the couch, a furry pillow to rest a small head upon, a comfort after a bad day. He is ever available to cuddle, offering non-judgmental support all the way.

My daughter got the remedy to her problems and, as it turns out, eight-year-old logic is more sound than I realized. Little did we know that we all needed some Halsey in our lives. And our family is, in fact, the better for him.

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 Jeannie Hildebrand won Animal Care Centers of NYC a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.