The oldest of our three dogs, the fabulous Yoda, died in August from cancer. My wife Jennifer wanted to honor Yoda’s memory by adopting another dog from the shelter. I was against the idea. Our other two dogs (Beethoven and Buster) are great dogs, best buddies with established routines and our pet ownership experience was on autopilot. Why rock the boat?

We own a horse farm and allow our dogs to roam free. The dogs are well trained to stay within the boundaries of our property. A new dog would mean training those boundaries all over again, training it to be compatible with the horses and introducing it to Beethoven and Buster – who I feared, even though they are the sweetest dogs, could develop a pack mentality and give a new dog problems.

I gave Jennifer all the excuses I could to avoid adopting another dog. She wasn't buying it. Not only was she insistent that she wanted to adopt another dog, she wanted to adopt one that had been on the adoption floor the longest. Great. I was losing the battle.

Then one day, Jennifer informed me she had found that dog and wanted me to go to the shelter to meet her. Her? Female dog? With our two boys?

“Meadow,” said Jennifer. “She’s everyone’s favorite dog at the shelter.”

Yeah, right.

Off we went to the shelter, and I met Meadow: a 4- to 6-year-old white pit bull mix, heartworm positive, who lived outside on a chain most of her life and was obviously overbred as evidenced by the six hanging nipples. Housebroken? Working on it. Basic obedience? A work in process.

Jennifer had found her perfect unwanted dog.

I relented and we took Meadow home. The introduction to the other two dogs was OK; they didn’t kill her. The next day, Susie Cohen, shelter dog trainer extraordinaire, came to our home to assess the situation. When our alpha dog, Beethoven, raised his hackles, Susie was worried. But both Buster and Beethoven began to accept her, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Next, we took Meadow to the barn on a leash to test her reaction to horses. We introduced her to our horse, Bruno, and Meadow sat down in front of him, intensely curious. Then the most amazing thing happened. Bruno bowed his head, sniffed her, and began to lick her all over, the way horses groom each other. Meadow sat still and savored his affection with ecstasy. It was precious. They were in love.

In short order, Meadow fit right in with our family. She is the boss of the boys. We don’t need to leash her anymore. Her manners and her housebreaking continue to improve. She has discovered our soft, cushy furniture, and (of course) she sleeps in our bed with Beethoven and Buster. She gets her daily grooming from Bruno. She is a great athlete, as evidenced by the time she jumped on the counter, grabbed a plateful of people cookies, and threw it to the floor. All three dogs wolfed down 10 cookies before we could intervene. Every day she becomes a happier, more well-adjusted dog.

Pssst! Don’t tell Beethoven and Buster, but Meadow is my favorite. Go figure.

Their lives are in our hands.

By the Numbers

Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. FOTAS sponsors (pays for) Aiken County Animal Shelter adoptions year-round for U.S. veterans and active military personnel.