Welcoming Home Michelle

About three months ago I was reading a book to Soleil that revolved around two siblings. About 2/3 of the way through, Soleil asked me who her brother was.

It was a profound moment. I’m 99 percent sure she’ll never have one given our 40 something status, and the difficulties we experienced having Soleil. She will be an only child.

One thing I have learned over the past year or so is that toddlers and geriatric pets are not a great mix. Our two cats, 18 and 16 respectively, and Junior (an 11 year old pug who may as well be a cat) just don’t have much play in them anymore.

Caitlin and I started discussing the matter. We felt Soleil needed someone more youthful to play with at home, especially given that Daddy “the play guy” is at work during the business week. A slow three month search began for our new dog, someone a little younger who would enjoy Soleil’s attention.

We began working with Homeward Trails, a local rescue organization, which happened to come in second place for most donors during Give to the Max Day. As the GM of that $2 million giving event, I was thrilled to work with this local community rescue.


At one of their local dog rescue events in Arlington, I walked into the pen. Michelle, an American Fox Hound/Beagle mix, came right up to me. She was as sweet as could be.

We went to a private stall, and introduced her to Soleil. The two got along famously, playing catch, and Michelle tolerating Soleil’s incessant hugging of all things furry. A match was made, and three weeks ago we brought Michelle home.

Things have been awesome, though Mom and Dad are adjusting to a two-year old dog with lots of energy. Michelle is a real dog, unlike Junior, who will counter surf and even consumed a whole loaf of bread. But she is still as sweet as could be. Bonus miles: Because Michelle is a real dog, she actually barks when strangers come to the door, a new thing for us.

Most importantly, Soleil has a playmate now. Michelle will trot around the kitchen table while Soleil chases her, and will sleep with the little girl sometimes. Michelle tolerates Soleil’s rough and tumble nature to a much higher degree than the older pets, who simply run away from her. And yes, we’re actively working with Soleil on respecting animals.


With the dog comes the poop.

Our third rescue experience has been awesome. There are so many animals out there that need homes. While we considered getting a bred Labradoodle, this seemed to be the more mindful path for our house.

Soleil has her sibling now, and you can hear many more sounds of little feet going pitter patter throughout the house.

Do you have pets? How did you find them?


  • Love this. And Love Homeward Trails. I adopted my two girls and my boy before that from a rescue group. These volunteers work tirelessly to insure that animals are not mistreated or if they have been, that they are given to loving homes to heal. I am glad that Soleil has a new best friend; that is an experience that will stay with her forever.

    • They are really great. I love the follow-up calls, the tips, and the sugestions. I have owned animals for a long time, but I learned a few things from Homeward Trails, for sure!

  • Congratulations on your new furry creature! So great that you’re giving Michelle a new home and a lovely new playmate too! As you know, we have a house full of pets, all rescues, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • My parents had a dog before they had me (I’m the eldest)… so that tells you what my family is like! At the time, rescues in India were unheard of, so most pets were bought from breeders. I’ve always been around dogs my entire life, and growing up we had three dogs (used to joke it was one for each kid). Then the rescue culture started to come to India when I was in my 20s, I think.

    After I got married, bought a home, etc., all our pets have come from rescues (we have three dogs); from my brother-in-law who couldn’t take his dog with him (he’s in the military), from California, and from NYC. As you know, I worked for a huge animal welfare organization, so know quite a bit about the rescue and animal welfare worlds in general. They really do God’s work, but the one thing I did learn was to not look down my nose at folks who buy pets from reputable breeders (which, let’s face it, many of us who rescue animals, can have a tendency to do). So had you gotten a pet that way, I wouldn’t have thought any worse of you (if that matters!) :) but I’m very glad you found Michelle via the shelter, and that she and Soleil are so in love!

    • Absolutely, I have a Siamese cat, pure bred. I’ve always had Siamese cats in my life, but this guy is such a stinker he may have ruined that streak ;) Just kidding, Blues, you are getting better in your 16th year (Geez!).

      Thank you for your service to society in the past (and present), and your continued focus on helping animals by adopting them!

  • We adopted a 3 year old german shepherd mix from Ohio in October. Nathan was super iffy on getting a dog due to his neat freak nature. After falling in love with his picture online, his foster mom drove him 5 hours to Hagerstown and we drove the two hours there to get him. He was a “prison dog” in a program that helped rehabilitate prisoners and was impeccably trained, so we got very lucky. Nathan originally bought the dog for me as company because of his working hours (he’s often gone overnight) but Mopar has turned into a “Daddy’s Dog” and doesn’t give a crap about mommy as long as Nathan is around. He’s awesome though. Lol :)

    • Now if only all dogs would come pre-trained! Sounds like you got a great animal, who knows who feeds him. LOL! He looks great, and I’m sure he makes the Miller household a warmer one!

  • Hi Geoff, We have been the proud pet parents to Charlie, a Brittany, for the past 14 1/2 years. If you’re not familiar with the breed, they look like a large-ish (35 lbs) King Charles Spaniel but are in the hunting-retrieving family, similar to a German short-hair pointer or a Vizsla. Charlie came from a breeder since we had our hearts set on a Brittany and it’s hard to find one through a rescue group. But I heard a disturbing story from the Ontario Brittany Rescue Club a few weeks ago. They are expecting over 140 Brittanies from a breeder in Louisiana who was closed down recently. If any of your readers live in Ontario and are looking for an energetic, loving family dog, they should get in touch with the Club. Here’s the link: http://www.brittanyspanielclub.on.ca/brittanyrescue.htm

    • Charlie sounds like a wonderful dog. When I was a kid, we owned a brittany spaniel named Star, and she was a great friend. I hope those that are reading from Ontario will follow the link , and get one of these great animals!

  • Pets are so amazing. They are always there for you. Sometimes a furry face and slobbery kiss are just the thing to make your day (except for my daughter’s hugs). I grew up with a dalmatian, then we had a yellow lab, my cat adopted me when I graduate from college and we currently have Tillman, our bulldog/boxer mix. And we constantly dog sit, so right now Jazz (our neighbor’s chocolate lab) is visiting. My daughter just loves the dogs!!

  • Pingback:What I Learned at the Dog Park | Geoff Livingston's Blog

    […] we brought Michelle home, she has demonstrated that she is a high octane dog who needs some running time at the dog park. […]

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