It’s not always easy to find where we truly belong. Dogs are no different. Some dogs are lucky enough to be born immediately into loving arms and lifelong bonds. Others take a little longer to find the place, or person, that feels like home.
Eva first adopted Bella in 2009, while a senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Now a Chicago resident, Eva remembers how much of a no-brainer first bringing her home was, even while still a student.
“It was just what everyone did,” Eva says. With a yard to run in and a city where “dog-friendly” is the rule rather than the exception, Bella was quickly right at home. After working in Houston for a few years, Eva then decided to move to Chicago to pursue a new job opportunity. Concerned about her adjusting to such a new environment, Eva had Bella stay behind in Houston, living with her mother.
Things went well in Chicago, but the vacancy she left was significant, and Eva began to look into ways to add some morning walks and wagging tails back into her life. Her search brought her to Australian Shepherd Rescue Midwest (ASRM for short), a not-for-profit rescue organization helping find loving homes for Australian Shepherds in need.
With her interest piqued, Eva became involved as a foster dog mom, helping bridge the gap to care for dogs as they search for permanent adoptions. The first dog that entered Eva’s world was an Australian Shepherd named Libby. She was young, spirited and full of the kind of vigor that make Australian Shepherds such effective herding dogs. But before she stepped into her new Lincoln Park home, Eva got another call.
Four months after she had left Houston, Bella wasn’t adjusting well to Eva’s absence.
“She had stopped eating,” Eva remembers. After concluding she was otherwise healthy, the purpose of her protest was clear: She missed her person. With a new comfort and familiarity about Chicago, Eva decided it was time to bring Bella along for the adventure. She flew to Houston, and after being reunited, she started packing up the family car to drive back to Chicago.
At the sight of the first suitcase, Bella darted into the car, planted herself in the backseat, and refused to leave. She didn’t know that her journey to Chicago was always a part of the plan. But after Eva returned home, she’d be damned if she was going to let her leave again. 1,080 miles later, they arrived in Chicago. Yards were smaller, people a little closer together, and the air a little colder. But with Eva leading the way again, she was home.
And soon Libby joined them. As advertised, Libby was full of enthusiasm. She was also full of instincts to run, work, and corral that were, at times, hard to contain. After a few months in Chicago, Eva and boyfriend Mike heard from a family who owned a farm in Wisconsin and was interested in adopting Libby.
“They had just had an Australian Shepherd that passed away,” Mike remembers, “they fell in love with her immediately.” The family took Libby in without second thought. And because they still stay in touch, it was soon clear that Libby had fallen in love as well.
“She takes rides on their pontoon boat, she chases the bad birds away from the farm, she protects the chickens,” Eva explains, “It was the perfect fit.”
Home sweet home. Eva stays closely involved with ASRM, regularly volunteering at adoption events and fundraisers to help make more stories like Libby’s come true.
About 18 months after arriving in Chicago, Bella’s quite well adjusted to her habitat. Places like Montrose Dog Beach provide much-needed opportunities to run and play like she did in Texas. And other than regular anxiety attacks caused by things like bicycles, trains, or Eva momentarily leaving her immediate sight, Bella is a happy, sweet, and very intelligent dog. As Mike & Eva put it, maybe even too smart for her own good.
“She’s the smartest dog I’ve ever met,” Mike says.
With the skills to plan your own hunger strike turned cross-country journey to get back to the person you belong with . . . he just might be right.
The story of Eva, Mike, Bella, & Libby is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans & their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at ILuvMutts@MuttJackson.com – we’d love to hear from you!