Ivy | Well and Full

Today I want to tell you a story about a little dog that could.

September 14, 2013. My sister Kathryn and I were at Petsmart, where there was an adoption fair. I was just starting my senior year of college, so I wasn’t seriously thinking about getting a dog. But because my sister and I are huge animal lovers, we thought we’d go to the adoption fair and check it out.

It was a warm and sunny day. Under a white tent, there were about two dozen dogs, each in their own little enclosures or cages. Each dog we went up to had a wagging tail, and came to sniff our hands as we approached. My sister and I agreed that we wished we could take all of them home!

We walked from dog to dog, making sure to give each one a nice pet or scratch. But then, we came across one enclosure, different than the others. In it was a little puppy, rib cage protruding, lying weakly on the ground.

This dog was Ivy.

Ivy | Well and Full

It was very obvious that this little dog was very weak. She didn’t get up to greet us as we came by, nor did her tail wag. She just laid on the ground, eyeing us warily.

My sister and I asked the adoption coordinator if we could take her out and visit with her. Agreeing, the woman put a leash on her and attempted to coax her out of her crate. The little pup’s ears perked up slightly, but she remained on the ground. Tenderly, I reached in and picked her up, light as a feather. At three months old, she weighed ten pounds.

“What’s her name?” I asked. “Her name’s Ivy,” said the adoption coordinator. “She’s from Arkansas. We just brought up a truckload of dogs from a high-kill shelter there a few days ago.” Which explained why she was so malnourished. “What about the contusions on her stomach? Was she spayed prior to coming to Connecticut?” I asked. “She had her surgery three days prior to coming up here, poor thing. She must not have had much a chance to rest on that truck with all the other dogs.”

I was stunned. This poor creature had been spayed, and without even having a chance to recover from the surgery, had been toted up on a truck full of barking dogs, twenty hours from Arkansas to Connecticut. It was no wonder that she didn’t have the strength to walk.

Ivy | Well and Full

I held Ivy in my arms for almost an hour, knowing she desperately needed some simple affection. The wheels started turning in my head. I called my mom and told her where I was, explaining that there was a little dog who really needed a home. Flustered, my mom tried to dissuade me – it was my senior year of college, and although I was living in an apartment, I wouldn’t necessarily have enough time to devote to a dog. She thought it was a bad idea, and so did my dad. They said, in so many words, “Don’t even think about it.”

I put Ivy back on the ground, where she immediately laid down. I sat and looked at her for a good while.

In Catholic high school, I had heard about “callings” and vocations, never really thinking anything of them. In my infinite wisdom as a high schooler, I dismissed it as just a bunch of mystic mumbo jumbo, overzealous Catholics at their finest. God doesn’t talk to people anymore, if he ever even did. Right?

I didn’t realize how wrong I was.

As I was sitting there, looking at that weak, malnourished dog, I felt an inexplicable pull in my heart and mind, an almost physical sensation. I can’t really find the words to describe it. Here was an animal, nearly sick to the point of death, whose fate would lie in the hands of her rescuer. And at that moment, there was not even the least bit of doubt in my mind that I would be that rescuer.

Still hearing the echoes of my parents in my head, I decided to cover my bases. I waited to the end of the adoption fair to see if anyone would take her, thinking that maybe she would be better off with a family that had more time for her. But no one took her. (Later I knew this was not an accident for me to have her.) I told the adoption coordinator I would “foster” Ivy for a few days, so she could at least get some TLC. She agreed, and I was sent off with a crate, a leash, and a few treats to get me on my way.

Driving back to my school, I could see Ivy shaking through the bars of the crate. Terrified that she was about to embark on another 20-hour interstate drive. So during our entire 30-minute ride, I softly sang lullabies to calm her.

When we returned to my apartment, I gave her a little water, and then brought her over to the couch with me. And even after only having met me some hours ago, she immediately curled up on my lap, head resting on my breast. She was fast asleep.

It was at that moment that I knew I could never let her go.

Ivy | Well and Full

Fast forward two years. Ivy is a healthy 45 pounds, energetic and happy. She loves playing fetch, taking naps with mommy, and going on hikes in the woods. Ironically, my parents (Grandma + Grandpa) now absolutely adore Ivy and take her to stay at their house at least once a week, where they spoil her with treats and toys. She always makes sure to bother my parents dog, her uncle Scout, whenever she’s there. (But Scoutie doesn’t really mind.)

Ivy | Well and FullIvy | Well and Full

It’s been two years to the day since I first set eyes on that little, malnourished puppy. While the beginning was certainly hard – Ivy retained a slew of health issues from her time in Arkansas – the amount of unconditional love I have received from her has been beyond explanation. I know there are those who doubt that animals can experience complex emotions. But on that first night, when Ivy curled up against me, I could viscerally feel the love and gratitude extending from her heart, knowing that I had rescued her. Since then we have never spent more than a few days apart. She is as much a part of me as my hands or my legs or my heart.

Today I celebrate that day, two years ago – two lonely souls, needing love and warmth – finding each other against all odds.

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. 

Psalm 40:5


  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    September 14, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Oh this post made me tear up! What a sweet baby dog and it looks like she is SO happy you ended up bringing her home with you! :)

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Aww thank you Abby!! :D

  • Reply
    Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist
    September 14, 2015 at 9:31 am

    What a story Sarah…It is so great that two of you found each other. I loved all of the pictures.

    Before I was born, a dog was left in my parents yard, badly abused. They swiftly took her to the vet who basically told them that the dog should be euthanized because of the extent of her injuries. That dog, Sophie, became a part of our family and lived for 12 years. After meeting her only hours earlier, when the Vet asked my father if he wanted him to treat her injuries for a whopping $1,300 my father answered, perplexed, “of course I do, that’s my dog!” She had horrible nightmares for years until she finally got that she was safe.

    In the weeks after they found her, my parents posted signs thinking maybe someone was missing her (although probably the previous owners were responsible for her injuries). They had one posted on the front lawn and I am not exaggerating at all when I say that every single day Sophie sat RIGHT in front of the sign covering it from view from sunrise to sunset. If there was someone out there looking for her she did not want to be found. She knew she had found her home.

    Happy two-year anniversary!

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Wow! It’s like Sophie knew what was on that sign, and knew she wanted to stay with your family!! Dogs may not be able to “talk” in a human sense, but there is no doubt that they can communicate. Sophie must have been so grateful that you took her in!! Thank you for sharing your story :)

  • Reply
    dixya | food, pleasure, and health
    September 14, 2015 at 11:48 am

    what a gorgeous post full of love. while i didnt rescue my puppy, i can feel so much love and adoration from her when i get after i get back home. puppies are seriously the best thing ever. ivy is really lucky to have you…

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you so much, Dixya! There’s nothing like coming home to a wagging tail, is there? :)

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    September 14, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    O this is so lovely!!! What am amazing story dear!!! This is true love <3

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Rebecca :)

  • Reply
    Audrey @ Unconventional Baker
    September 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    What a lovely tale, Sarah! I’ve been smitten with Ivy since you shared a few photos in other posts, but reading this I’m more smitten than ever :) I’ve worked in shelters and fostering when I was young, and currently have two rescue dogs with similar happy tales. One of my pups was confiscated from an abusive owner and put straight into a high kill shelter {talk about the logic there…} and like yourself, when I saw her I knew she was the one and wouldn’t leave without her. Both dogs are such wonderful little beings and I love sharing my life with them.

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      Thank you so much Audrey!! Your pup sounds lovely as well and I know she’s lucky to have you :D

  • Reply
    Alison @Food by Mars
    September 14, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    This is so sweet <3 – there's no bond like the one between a gal and her pup. Gorgeous!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2015 at 7:50 am

      Thank you Alison! :)

  • Reply
    Nicoletta @sugarlovespices
    September 15, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful! I have tears in my eyes I can hardly write! So so happy she found you and you found her. Everything happens for a reason. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you so much for leaving a note, Nicoletta! <3

  • Reply
    Vermont Maple Lemonade | Well and Full
    September 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    […] I get started, I want to thank each and every one of you who read my story about Ivy earlier this week. It’s amazing how much this little furball means to me. I loved reading the […]

  • Reply
    Jessie Snyder | Faring Well
    September 16, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Oh Sarah! This made my heart brake. I got the chills just reading it. What a sweet sweet story. You have the biggest heart, happy birthday Ivy!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      <3 Thanks Jessie :)

  • Reply
    September 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

    i loved this story! you’re a superstar in my eyes. :)

    • Reply
      September 21, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Aww thank you, Grace!! :D

  • Reply
    Shiitake Donburi | Well and Full
    October 1, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    […] rescued my own pup from a shelter in September 2013. To find a wonderful shelter dog near you, click […]

  • Reply
    The Well + Full Holiday Gift Guide | Well and Full
    December 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    […] is an organization that is very near and dear to my heart. I rescued my dog, Ivy, from Pack Leaders Rescue in September 2013. Rescuing an abused, malnourished animal completely […]

  • Reply
    Christina Pope
    April 8, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Sarah, what a wonderful story. It touched my heart deeply. How beautiful Ivy is. I hope you both have a long and loving life together.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Thank you so much, Christina!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    I just discovered your blog through a recipe on Pure Wow. While I loved that post this one has me in tears. I understand that pull and am sitting next to my rescue pup Chelsea 13 years after I first met her- scared, starving and skittish (her) and me, not much better. Ivy is one lucky girl and so are you.

    • Reply
      February 19, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Thank you so much for your sweet note, Justine :) Chelsea sounds like she is one lucky dog too :)

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