Thank You for Loving Me
“Moose,” “Nelly,” “Nelly Noo.” These are the nicknames I recite with overt joy and a brimming heart, and the designations that have lovingly, unconsciously been bestowed upon my ten-year-old English cocker spaniel, Nila. While most people with senior dogs have had them for their lifetime, Nila came to be mine at a ripe nine-years-old, with a greying muzzle and saggy jowls. I never knew that a mode of transport could be a canine, that a dog could take me to the beach, mountains, and high desert, ripping me from the comfort and perceived safety of my apartment, and connecting me to the outside world.
Before Nila, I had not yet known, nor understood, the love of a dog. As I transitioned from college and my mother’s home to a bungalow in Hollywood with my partner, Lee, and my first full-time job, I found myself living in loneliness. I had always suffered from anxiety and mild depression, which seemed to growingly sting as I navigated an uncertain, amorphous future. While Lee’s 14-year-old chihuahua, Freda, kept me company on the many evenings that Lee was at work, and when I couldn’t quite bear to leave the house, I knew I needed a companion, and a bridge between Freda and myself.
I searched on Petfinder for nothing in particular – I hadn’t any criteria, other than a dog to be loved. Within hours, I found a face I wouldn’t, and rather couldn’t, forget. Second Chance Cocker Rescue (SCCR) had posted a nine-year-old cocker spaniel in need of adoption. Upon an application, phone call, and a visit to Nila’s foster home with Freda, Lee and I, enraptured, promptly adopted her.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. What a sweet, funny-looking creature, I thought. Nila rapidly acclimated, ultimately succumbing to sleep in the center of our queen-sized bed. Although Nila and Freda ignored each other for the most part, one always looked for the other if they weren’t in their line of sight, even after Freda passed away only three months later.
“Nila looks at you as though she’s trying to tell you something,” my mother said upon meeting Nila for the first time, and for many times after. It was impossible to imagine how my life would change in the following year. In SCCR, I found a community – Lee and I befriended Nila’s foster parents, and spent many golden afternoons in their backyard. My anxiety and depression ebbed with the love of this obsidian creature. Suddenly, I had a place and purpose: Nila inspired trips to the central coast, and moments on the outskirts in Joshua Tree. She showed me unconditional love, even on the days I told myself I didn’t deserve it, and unwaveringly so.
The stress of the pandemic threatened my mental health once more; however, Nila has been there for me now more than ever. After celebrating her first Gotcha Day, I finally understood what she has been trying to tell me all along: “Thank you for loving me.”
Do you have a SCCR cocker that you adore in your family? Would your life not be the same without your fur baby?
You can help us win a $100,000 grant from @petcofoundation by sharing your adoption story with them and mentioning Second Chance Cocker Rescue!
Head on over to their page for all the details!
We’d love to hear how your SCCR cocker has changed you life too! If you’re so inclined, please send us a copy of the story you submit along with a few photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share in your joy!