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The Saga of Nellie and her “Forever Home” Illustrates the Joyous Adventures of Pet Adoption

Nellie at home

Nellie in her forever home

By B. Lewis

It takes a while for relationships to grow. Nellie, the dog I adopted from the Sociedad Protectora de Animales (SPA), and I continue to work on ours as I gradually learn her likes and dislikes.

Nellie had remained for several years at the SPA before she recently came to live with me, and as a longtime resident of the animal shelter, she’s slowly been getting used to life in a forever home..

Except for water in her drinking bowl, Nellie remains convinced that the elixir of life is to be avoided at all costs. Thanks to the Internet, I found a waterless bath—an overall brushing with baking soda. She now smells oh-so sweet.

Now I can add olive oil to the forbidden list. Presented with a little oil on her kibble, Nellie daintily lifted one paw and nudged each kibble out of the bowl, eating them one by one. Those “contaminated” with olive oil, she left in the bowl. Perhaps tuna oil will be more agreeable to her discerning palate.

Her great love is fetching (and fetching, and fetching) a thrown ball. Occasionally, balls go AWOL, perhaps buried doggie treasures in case of lean times. Recently, a friend brought her a new one that made a curious sound when touched. Nellie went gaga for it, gently nosing the ball back and forth, holding it between her paws, taking it to bed every night. Two weeks later, she still treats it tenderly. It makes me wonder if, long ago, she had a litter of puppies that the soft cooing ball recalls for her. It may be another of her secrets that I’ll never know.

Come January, when the weather turned chilly, she didn’t mind, but I did and made plans to go to the beach. This meant another life adventure for Nellie—boarding. My departed dog, Lucky, loved his boarding time in Atotonilco and his new dog acquaintances. But how would Nellie react?

In the car on our way to the kennel, she stuck her head out the window. My guilt went down a notch.

Feeling like a hard-hearted Hannah, I left her in Dr. Cristina’s capable hands and took off without a backward glance. I later learned she had spent the first few days inside a room. On day three, she ventured out. By day four, she was making new friends.

As I pulled up in the car a couple of weeks later, she and her newfound pack barked and wagged their tails furiously in greeting. It was a wonderful sight: my timid Nellie exuberantly enjoying herself.

Having a pet in your life is special—yes, sometimes vexing (who doesn’t like olive oil?) but so rewarding when the love you give comes back so greatly magnified. Nellie had been at the SPA for six years when I took her home. I urge you to go to the SPA website ( and find your very own “forever” dog or cat. Then it will be your turn to share stories of your treasured companion.


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