The Story of My First Time Adopting a Pet

It’s late November 2005. I’m 25 years old, single, and coming home from work each night to silence. On most days, I wouldn’t speak from the time I left work until the next morning when I arrived back at work. Loneliness set in as I tried to navigate the silent nights at home. Then one day it came to me, what if I had something to come home to each night? Having grown up with dogs and cats as pets, I decided that cats were a better fit for my lifestyle. Independent, curious, and laidback, cats offered fine companionship for my season of life.

The Search Begins

As an avid animal lover, I was always spending breaks at work browsing available pets on Petfinder. Petfinder is a site that showcases pets available for adoption. Visitors can drill down by pet type (dog, cat, other), breed, age, size, gender, color, behavior, location, etc. My Petfinder browsing sessions shifted to a full-on search for an adoptable furry friend. Then one day, I come across this beautiful female cat at a nearby shelter in northern New Jersey. She was a younger adult, dilute tortoiseshell named Daisy. I remember her profile describing her as being loving and well-behaved. I just had to go adopt her.

The Big Day

The following Saturday, December 3rd, was the big day. Before leaving the apartment, I called to confirm the shelter’s hours and that Daisy was still there. My first stop: PetSmart. Adopting my first pet meant that I needed to obtain the necessary supplies for owning a cat: litterbox, litter, water and food bowls, food, toys, and scratching post. I make my purchases and head out to my car.  As I’m putting things away, I notice a mobile adoption unit pull up in the parking lot, but alas, I was on a mission to adopt Daisy.

I pull out my MapQuest directions (remember those?) and get on the road, 20 minutes later, I arrive to the shelter. With anticipating building, I approach the front desk and mention how I had seen Daisy online and would love to meet her.

The wind left my sails as I’m told that all cats were placed in quarantine and none are available for adoption in the near future. I was beyond disappointed. My hopes dashed; I return to my car.

The vision of the mobile adoption unit at PetSmart pops into my head. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to head back that way just to take a quick peek and interact with some furry friends?

Words to describe Lucy

Change of Plans

With reverse MapQuest directions in hand, I navigate myself back to the PetSmart. Luckily, the mobile adoption unit is still in the parking lot. It was from the Staten Island location of New York City Animal Care & Control (now known as Animal Care Centers of NYC).

I enter the vehicle to see one side of the unit filled with dogs and cats. Some spots were empty, from the lucky few who had already found their forever homes. I speak to a volunteer and tell her the story of my failed adoption attempt of Daisy. The volunteer tells me to sit tight while she grabs a cat she felt might be a good fit. Gently placed in my arms is Princess. Princess is a tuxedo kitty, black with white chest, whiskers, and paws.

She’s several months old and very docile. I continue to speak with the volunteer as Princess gets comfortable and sleeps in my arms. A half-hour later, I say, “I suppose I’ve been adopted, “ and the paperwork is filled out to take her home immediately.

Introducing Lucy!

The volunteer provided me with food samples, information, paperwork, and a cardboard carrier (with air holes!) Inside the carrier lies Princess. I take the goodie bag and carrier, place them in the car, and start the short drive home. Two minutes from my apartment, I’m sitting at a red light when a paw makes its way out of one of the air holes and starts searching around.

The name, Lucy, pops in my head, and alas, her new name is born.

Lucy’s New Home

Arriving home, I open the carrier and Lucy jumps up on the sofa and lays down. She made herself right at home from the start. In the coming days, I find Lucy to be very dog-like. She greets me at the door when I get home. She follows me around as I make my way throughout the apartment. She’s a bit mischievous, yet full of affection. I find that she enjoys car rides, and she accompanies me on trips whenever possible – including her first Christmas back home in Pennsylvania!

Fast Forward to 2020

Fast forward to 2020: We celebrated Lucy’s 15th birthday on March 2nd. We spent a couple months of the year in Charlottesville, Virginia, first spending a 2-week quarantine at an Airbnb before staying with my parents. Lucy enjoyed being taken out for multiple walks each day in her stroller. We are looking forward to celebrating our 15-year adopt-aversary on December 3rd. She may have slowed down a bit since 2005, but she’s as affectionate and curious as ever. In fact, I think the following words best describe Lucy: adventurer, spoiled (and rightfully so!), best friend.

It’s Your Turn

Have you ever adopted a pet? What kind was it? How did he or she impact your life? I’d love to hear the story of your first adopted pet it the Facebook group #365FirstsChallenge.

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