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My home is Mabel’s fourth. My sweet girl spent the first two years of her life with a man who could no longer care for her, so he relinquished her to a rescue. I assume she was driven to the farm, where she stayed for a bit. Mabel then took another car ride to her foster home, where she spent four months, and then took another road trip to my apartment.

Despite her experience, Mabel’s always been easy in the car, even during our far-too-frequent vet visit voyages. However, when Mabel was on daycare hiatus for two weeks, I had to find a not-overwhelming place to walk her. Armed with Nextdoor recommendations and Google telling me the park wasn’t busy, we hopped in the car, hoping to find a quiet place for Mabel to explore. 

As I drove, Mabel became visibly nervous. Until then, she’d perk her head up at sights and sounds, but she was never agitated or scared, just curious. I knew that face, the feeling brewing inside Mabel as we continued our trip. Gavin gave me that face when my first foster dog was leaving. He got in the foster dog’s crate and looked up at me with his soft, big brown eyes like, “OK, I’ll go now,” My heart shattered for my sweet, good girl as much as it did for my most precious boy that day.

Only in-the-moment comforting and time has helped Mabel understand she’s not going anywhere, just like it did with Gavin, whom my backyard patio was chosen and curated for—my perfect sun-worshipping, nap-loving boy could spend all day lounging outside

Whenever Mabel gets the zoomies out there, my heart pauses a little. Corners, bricks, and astroturf aren’t the setting for a young dog to run after her balls, to really run after them. So, I signed us up for a small Sniff Spot. Given that a hanging branch still sometimes startles Mabel, I didn’t want to overwhelm her with too many new sights and smells. 

As we drove to our private grass-filled backyard, Mabel was super curious. I could tell she knew we weren’t going to daycare, my mom’s house, the park, or even the vet. But I could feel Mabel’s ease, her peace even as her head perked. Mabel didn’t know where we were going, but I know she knew I wouldn’t abandon her. 

It’s taken us more time than I’d anticipated for Mabel and me to trust each other, not to have to work so hard to figure the other one out, and to feel like spending time together is home, yet I think we’re finally there.

The sanctuary of a beautiful relationship (human ones, too), where we feel safe to be ourselves and let our hearts shine their brightest, is a glorious gift we should all be thankful for if and when we’re lucky to have it. If we have dogs, friends, family members, partners, and even those who may not be in our lives today whose nearness on the sofa evokes us to exhale and scooch a little closer so their calm companionship can envelop us, may we be grateful. Being with blessed, loved ones should feel like a homecoming.  

May your day and weekend be filled with gooey feelings of home, even if you’re not an introverted homebody like me. 

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