Lessons from a Chalupa

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. I had finally made it. After more than a month of looking at foster dogs online, I was ready to go and scout one out. Because it was the holiday season (December 2017 to be more precise), there would be a handful of dogs needing temporary fosters. This made it the perfect time for me to give dog ownership a shot, knowing that if it did not work out, I could return the dog with no questions asked.

I had my eyes set on a senior Pomeranian mix named Henry. He was adorable but I had already deemed him non-adoptable because he was also 8 years old, had severe skin allergies, and took multiple medications making him too “high maintenance” in my eyes. (You may call it shallow. I call it practical. Either way, it is what it is. :P)

My roommate Nitza and I got up to the shelter and went straight to Henry and his current foster. Henry did not disappoint. He was an adorable furball with a calm but playful temperament. We bonded immediately.

In the middle of our playtime with Henry, an uninvited four-legged guest waddled up. He had coarse white wired-hair and an awful yellow fauxhawk that ran along his spine. It was sticking up in every direction like a perpetual bad hair day. He also had the energy and demeanor of Eeyore and a glazed look in his eyes.

“Man,” I thought to myself with mild disgust. “What an ugly dog. Who would ever want him?”

As that thought went into my mind, our new guest stopped in front of Nitza and without making any eye contact fell sideways into her lap. Plop. He was down for the count. No tail wagging. No licking. Just a plop.

“What a strange dog,” was the last thought I had of him that day.

Two days later, I received an email from the adoption clinic:

“Thank you so much for wanting to be a foster. Henry no longer needs a foster, but we are in need of a foster for Chalupa. Would you be interested?”

My heart broke immediately. No Henry? Why not?? And Chalupa? Who’s Chalupa? The Eeyore dog? Why would I want HIM?

My gut reaction was to say “no thank you!” I mean after all, the dog was a dud. But after some thought I relented and agreed to foster him.

For those of you who know me, you know that Chalupa, that sad sap of a dog, is now my little guy. And he has blossomed into one awesome dog. He is loveable and energetic and kind. He comes to work with me twice a week and is the most popular person there, bringing pet therapy to my patients and their family members. I once had a patient bring her daughter with special needs in and Chalupa laid with her for an hour. He’s blessed the Instagram stories of tens of patients and will continue to affect lives for years to come. He’s a good boy for sure.

Why do I share this story, you ask? Well, I wanted to share it mostly because it’s National Pet Day and who doesn’t like a cute pet story. Also, it’s a good reminder not to judge a book by its cover. I’m definitely guilty of that in life more often than I’d like to admit. But I will say this…

Chalupa was abandoned, living in the streets, got hit by a car, and had two surgeries to repair a broken leg. When I met him, he was down on life and understandably so. Luckily, getting hit by a car was not the end of his story but only the beginning.

Who knew that on the other side of his pain would be a wonderful story? A story that I would share with many patients who have been through car accidents and surgeries. Who knew that his pain would bring peace to humans that are hurting both physically and emotionally and that it would encourage people to work harder in their rehabilitation process? Who knew???

Of course he probably doesn’t even know the impact he makes in the lives of others. He’s just looking to brighten someone’s day and get a belly rub along the way. But either way, what a life!

So hopefully you found some joy in this post about a dog’s life. And maybe you can relate to Chalupa. Maybe you are a Chalupa, getting hit by life and feeling completely abandoned. But maybe we can all take a lesson from Chalupa and use our pain to propel us into the future instead of allowing it to pull us down until we plop.

I have a verse of the year this year that I will share one of these days. But I would like to think that this has been one of Chalupa’s life verses:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Happy National Pet Day 🙂

2 thoughts on “Lessons from a Chalupa

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