Happy Gotcha' Day!

By Benny Huckleberry, as told to Liz Hoffmann | Oct 24, 2019

Have you ever heard of “Gotcha’ Day?” It’s a term that was coined in 2005 to commemorate the day that someone joins a family through adoption. It’s been described as an important step to help demystify the adoption process, tell the story of a person’s arrival, and include them in the family legend. It’s a day of festive celebration; just the same as birthdays and annual holidays are.

My personal Gotcha’ Day is Oct. 25, but I certainly didn’t know that at the time! How was I to know on that day back in 2013, that my life would change forever?

The story leading up to my adoption began sometime in mid-October 2013, when I was shipped up to New York in a transport van. A rescue group in Gallipolis Ohio (where I was originally from) packed a big vehicle with 39 unwanted pups. There was me, my litter mates and 33 other dogs all in search of loving homes. I didn’t know this ride was a good thing when it transpired, since I was so frightened!

Once we all arrived at the New York shelter, things did not get off to a great start. I was sickly and shy, and put into a big kennel with one of my littermates. That’s when the unexpected happened. My soon-to-be human walked in and saw me cowering in the back of the shelter cage. That sight must have upset her and so she came over for a closer look. Then suddenly, she opened the cage door, walked in and picked me up out corner where I was trying to hide. She carried me in her arms down the long corridor of cages and into a big room. I was so scared and shaking! Anyway, once she put me down, instead of doing my signature tail wag (which didn’t exist at the time,) I ran from her and hid under a table. I wanted nothing to do with humans since I had met some mean ones. I kept my distance from her and recoiled from her touch, but she persevered. She tried again and again to hold me. Finally, she was able to keep me in her lap for about ten seconds. And boy, were those an important ten seconds! During that time, she looked deeply into my eyes. And despite how scared I was, I looked back at her, and deeply into her eyes. She must have seen right inside me; how sensitive I was and how big my heart was. But then she said something odd to the shelter manager. “I really don’t want a puppy.” She looked at me again, and then at the shelter manager and repeated those same words ”I really don’t want a puppy.” I think perhaps she was trying to convince herself, but I don’t know.

After she said those words, she exited the room and didn’t come back for a while. I thought that was the end of it, but instead, (unbeknownst to me and much to my surprise,) she had left the room to go make the arrangements to adopt me. She returned that evening and picked me up. She put me in a crate in her car and took me home. That day was Oct. 25; my Gotcha’ Day and the day that I became part of kind, loving family.

My whole world changed on my Gotcha Day, and so I think we are going to celebrate in a big way. I’ll get some extra tasty treats, a very special dinner, and a nice, long walk. So, I think that the idea of Gotcha’ Day anniversary is a good one! And it’s a great reminder that love, real love and a new better life, can be just around the corner.

In celebration,

Benny H.

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