Josephine and Norah, 13

“Mom and Dad, can we please, please, PLEASE have a dog?” This is what we have been saying to our parents since the age of five, yet we always received the same answer, despite our persuasive efforts. Our 13th birthday was the date that we had agreed upon, the date where our new best friend was destined to enter our household. We would constantly go on walks and watch other dogs frolic with their owners, and we waited enthusiastically when that time would come for us. Our mom had always been the one pushing back on the idea of adopting yet another pet, in addition to our cat. Who knew that it would take schools and restaurants all over the world to close until our mom would be persuaded.

That Friday, everyone went to school like normal. We had all been informed that our school was starting Spring Break a month early and that we would return to school in just a week or two. Every class that day seemed to go the exact same way.

“Hello everyone,” our teachers would say, “Today we are just going to go over the procedure if school is…” Canceled. Postponed. Virtual. There wasn’t a single person at Hardy Middle School that had any idea what was coming. The one thing that no one could get was facts, and that is exactly what everyone wanted.

That night at dinner, our mom told everyone that she wanted to go to an adoption event the next day. We all took that news as normal; it seemed as though we had gone to thousands of adoption events in the course of three months. The one thing that they all had in common was that we returned empty handed. But Saturday turned out to be the day our family changed furever. <3

The day we adopted our new family member, Pepper Corona, from her shelter, Homeward Trails, was a surreal moment. The thought of actually getting a dog hadn’t seemed like a reality until we walked into the doors of that shelter. There was a pretty big crowd and our hearts swelled with the fact that we might find our forever friend today. A man came up to us and told us that he was going to help us find a dog. “We are going to find a dog,” we said to ourselves, our hearts beating in anticipation. The man came out with a black and white lab. “This is Sadie,” he told us. Sadie walked up to me and licked my palm, causing us to laugh. We took a purple striped rope lying on the ground and waved it in front of her face. Our mom was not into Sadie. Apparently she was too big and energetic. We both thought we were going to come home empty-handed. Then, Pepper came into the room, very timid and shy, but her spirit completely won us over. She walked over to Dad and jumped on him, licking him all over and jumping to get in his lap. We all started laughing. She ran from Mom to Dad and then back to us, licking all of us while she was at it. It felt like Pepper Corona was a part of our family from that moment on. We drove home with a dog lying next to us. Our whole family was on cloud nine. It seemed like, in spite of the world today, there is a reason to hope and love. “Happiness is a choice.” That is what our dad says every day we are upset, sad or angry with the world. Our whole family is so glad that we chose happiness by getting Pepper.

A couple of weeks later, the tentative dog we met at the shelter completely blossomed into herself. Pepper fit into our family lifestyle perfectly, like a puzzle piece we never knew was lost. We all developed a new way of life anyway since COVID-19, and Pepper really helped our family have many laughs over this horrible time. She sleeps in her crate and we don’t hear from her the whole night. When we wake up in the morning, we get Pepper out of her crate and then sit down so she can throw her body on us and give us love. She doesn’t have a tail, so her whole butt wiggles the minute someone unlocks her crate.

Our cat, Murray Sparkles Rainbow Cat Caplan, has learned to coexist with Pepper very well. They both wait for us to come home when we go outside to play soccer. One of us pets Murray while the other is with Pepper. It feels like our family is complete.

“Pepper is going to be so upset when we all get back to our normal routine,” our dad always says, laughing as Pepper jumps on him after only 45 minutes apart. No one in our family knew just how long it would be before we would go back to school. We still have no idea. Pepper has brought so much joy to our lives, but the not knowing anything about our future has made us all very stressed. Meanwhile, Pepper Corona is living the best doggy life ever. COVID-19 has made her be in heaven. Every day, there is anticipation, anxiety, sadness and worry in this house, but we just have to remind ourselves of the good. Our family is healthy, we are safe, and we rescued a dog’s life who has brought so much unexpected joy into ours. Everyone out there reading this, adopt an animal! You, just like us, will be very grateful you did, especially in these dark times.

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